by July 4, 2012 0 comments

A tight integration of applications across six business streams saves Bharti Infratel CapEx and OpEx worth Crores of Rupees each year.

Bharti Infratel was a young organization when it started the passive infrastructure provider business on B2B model, with all major telecom operators. However, due to lack of integrated business applications and non existence of unique master data, the management faced major challenges to operate 33000 towers, loaded with appx 2,64,000+ assets. Moreover, there were lack of tools for project management of deployment at sites. Also, since multiple MIS executives work on manual data, redundancy of work and loss of efficiency was a burning issue for the young organization. Also, the document management for statutory and legal contracts, and invoice approval was done manually.

What was deployed

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To overcome manual transactions using disintegrated data, the Infratel Enterprise Suite (IES) was conceived. IES has automated and aligned business processes within six value streams: Sales & Marketing; Site Acquisition; SCM & Finance; HR; and Operations and Maintenance. The delivery team accomplished a herculean task to migrate legacy data which involved identifying 60+ masters from 60 TB of data from manual data sources, and cleansing of legacy data based on new IES system architecture.

The IES was formulated by the architecture team keeping in mind the following: Minimum points of integration; Reusability of common services / information; and Scalability considerations as per projections (33,000+ sites to go upto 60,000+ sites).

The IES Integrates 6 COTS applications (Oracle ERP, IBM Maximo, GE Smallworld, Netcool, Filenet, IBM Websphere) through a robust Enterprise Service Bus. To overcome manual transactions and enable employees to work more efficiently, they matched the business functions with a stack of technology platforms and integrated multiple applications like Oracle ERP, Maximo, GE Smallworld, Netcool, Filenet, and IBM Websphere. The project delivery was done post rigorous performance and load testing, performance testing of database, application and middleware servers, based on non-functional parameters such as number of concurrent users, number of simultaneous transactions, high load scenarios based on all the value streams, etc.

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Challenges faced

The organization wide implementation of IES was a significant challenge, since on one side it amounted to rigorous engagement with external partners ie, customers like Vodafone, Idea, Reliance, Uninor, Airtel, etc and vendors like Mahindra, Kirlosker, ACME, etc. On the other hand, there were more than 2,000 employees internal to Infratel requiring HR processes automation. The key task in front of the Delivery team was to blend the IT automation with industry best practices ensuring that the integrated application stack allows a single data entry channel, which would enable accurate, integrated reporting across application stacks. This should also enable a single source of data truth, extensive use of online documents like “Check lists’ and photographs using document management system, site level data entry for all capital and operational expenses, integrated MIS across all functions, last mile availability of business applications, and business controls implementation as per information security policies.

The project is fairly complex. What makes it unique?
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The project entails complete business process re-engineering and has automated and centralized six business value streams, some kind of a first for the tower infrastructure industry. It is complex enough to integrate six key applications (Oracle ERP, IBM Maximo, GE Smallworld, Netcool, Filenet, IBM Websphere) through robust Enterprise Service Bus (EAI layer migration of legacy data (30 TB), in 60+ masters and GIS apps. More than 700 field users access IES using data cards and are able to efficiently manage the infrastructure and energy requirements.

How does it contribute towards Green IT initiatives?
As our contribution to Green IT, the company saves over 7 million A4 sheets per annum, due to paperless transactions, and can now redeploy used DG assets worth USD 20 Mn, which results in reduction in scrap generation.

What have been the benefits of the deployment for various end users within your organization?
The applications of IES are being used by on-ground cluster incharges to order materials on site, place asset replacement requests, get invoice approvals for site expenses, and create preventive maintenance schedule for all assets onsite. The zonal energy managers use IES for Energy Management, Deployment Project planning, to deliver sites within SLAs. The circle business controller manages circle level balansesheet, through automated IES financial modules. Now, the site level cost and expenses can be analyzed to take informed business decisions. There are 20 warehouses managed by SCM using IES warehouse management and inventory management systems. This helps in timely dispatches to sites for quick deployments. The Delegation of Authority (DOA) automation has helped in timely payments to partners with due approvals of invoices. Automated energy and rental billing by HO has resulted in higher accuracy and customer satisfaction. Contract management by SCM with partners enables better control over rates and service delivery agreements.

The Result

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Automated asset management processes enable preventive maintenance, predictive and breakdown management, helping the organization to enable 99.9% uptime. They are now saving asset expenses of approximately USD 4 Mn/pa through automation of infrastructure asset issuance. They are saving USD100,000/pm (18000 mh/pm @285/hr INR) by way of automation of delegation of authority for invoice approvals. They have already saved USD 60,000 by introducing paperless business transactions. Efficient deployment monitoring aids in faster tower construction by 20%. Automated partner/vendor payment reconciliation helps reduce conflicts and results in a saving of USD 100,000 / pm. There is now a 20% faster processing of staff expenses with an automated approval system. They were able to improve recruitment efficiency by 50% through recruitment automation and achieve 25% faster staff performance reviews.

Onsite there has been a 10% reduction in landlord disputes and timely payments. There is an 82% reduction in Invoice payable pendency, a 12 day reduction in deployment TAT, resulting in improvement of speed and quality of deployment, and significant reduction in inventory value worth over USD 7 Mn.

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