ERP Implementation for IoT Startup

Introduction

ERP is critical to all Businesses. Following is case-study of how correct implementation leads to better business outcome. In Digital era leverage technology to unlock efficiency.

Results

Aeron systems have successfully optimized their Business Process, this allowed them to

  1. Digitize internal Operation
  2. Automate Reports for Sales and Inventory Management

Specifically Aeron Systems achieved

  1. Improved their Sales turnaround time by 50%
  2. Reduced overstocking by 40%

This was possible thanks to ERPNext Implementation services rendered by Fafadia Tech.

Overview

Aeron Systems Pvt Ltd is a Pune based Tech company which offers a wide range of tech-driven products and solutions like IOT/N2N sensors and Inertial Sensors.

Firmly believing in their goal of coming together and Innovating on challenging problems, Aeron Systems have developed and manufactured a wide range of sensors and hardware to tackle Industry faced problems and serve quality products to their global customers. Some of Aeron Systems products include

  1. An Inertial Navigation System called Pollux 2 , which is ideal for Defence Applications like Unmanned System and Smart Soldier Navigation systems
  2. Weather Monitoring Devices for Smart Agriculture or for Solar Power Plants
  3. Other Machine to Machine (M2M) devices like Wireless Datalogger and Wireless Data Gateway
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Aeron Systems Founders interacting with Chief of Defense Staff of India, General Bipin Rawat

Challenges

Day to Day business operations were carried out using Excel File and Google Sheets. This setup worked for Sales, Procurement and Production. However, as the company started growing, Aeron realised that Google Spreadsheets had the following limitations

  1. No access control: No restriction or track of who made changes to the common Google Sheet like Inventory Sheet
  2. Tedious and Cumbersome: Generating transactional documents like Customer Order Copy (COC) on Google Sheets was tedious and cumbersome requiring a lot of manual work
  3. Lack of Actionable Insights: Since all the transactional data was logged in separate spreadsheets, it was difficult for the management to derive actionable insights from scattered data. For example: Expected Delivery Date on Customer Order Copy (COC) and the Actual Delivery Date on Delivery Note had no link, making it difficult for the management to figure out the magnitude or trend of Delays in Delivery.
  4. Manual Reporting: Since the data was scattered across multiple spreadsheets, reporting had to be manual. This required a lot of manual effort and would often have manual errors.

This led to slow down in operations and under utilisation of resources since data was scattered.

Aeron Systems decided to implement a centralised ERP software for their Operation to streamline their process and automate report generations.

Decision-Making Process

On receiving their call for interest, Fafadia Tech responded quickly and initiated the process by conducting following activities:

  1. Business Analysis: Detailed understanding of Client’s business process. This meeting was guided by Fafadia Tech’s Business Understanding Questionnaire which asked probing questions to the client to understand their business process in detail
  2. Pain Point Understanding: At this stage, we tried to understand Aeron’s pain points. Understanding the perspective of Management as well as the Executive workforce was equally important as the success of a system requires everyone’s participation.
  3. Solution Demo and Implementation Strategy: Based on the Business Process and Pain Points, a solution demo was created by Fafadia Tech which showcased how the right product along with the right Implementation Strategy will address the current pain points.

Looking at the conceptual presentation of the solution, Aeron’s management was confident that Fafadia Tech will be able to help them overcome their pain-points and provide a valuable information system to enable them to make informed decisions.

Solution

It was clear in the initial stage that the success of this project would depend on the combination of Right Product and Right Implementation Strategy.

Right Product: Prerequisites for a start-up the product had to be

  1. Cost Effective
  2. Tried and Tested
  3. Easy to Customise

Fafadia Tech considered a few options for the Product that could be implemented. We narrowed down to the following open-source alternatives

  1. Odoo
  2. ERPNext

However, Odoo had to be eliminated as an alternative since it was only open-core and had other modules that had additional cost associated with it.

ERPNext was finalised for the following reasons:

  1. ERPNext is a fully open-source product without any licensing fees compared to SAP or other leading ERP Products.
  2. ERPNext is being used by 5000+ Customers in 50+ countries making it a tried and tested product.
  3. ERPNext has a Python based ERP built with MariaDB (open source Database) which makes it easy to customize when required.

Right Implementation Strategy: Most ERP Projects fail not due to the Product but Implementation Strategy. The reasons being

  1. Change is Difficult: Human Beings are creatures of Habit. An ERP Implementation entails a complete paradigm shift in the way an organisation operates. Everyone is used to their way of working and tools, any change will face a huge resistance. This resistance can lead to failure of adoption and thus the project.
  2. Scope Creep: It is easy to get carried away when you see automation at work, one may feel the need to automate everything and one automation may break other parts of the system. If new feature requests are not handled with proper judgement, it may fail the system as a whole.
  3. Big Bang Approach: Since an ERP involves multiple business functions, getting the right balance of cross functional implementation is tricky. If you try to achieve a lot at once, it is easy to get confused and try to implement conflicting functionalities. This may lead to loss of motivation of the Technical team as well as the client.

Our experience of developing software for 11+ years and 60+ projects has helped us develop a tried and tested Implementation Strategy. Particularly we approached as follows

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Our Lead ERP Consultant, Manan Shah (R) with the Aeron Systems team

  1. Change Management:
    1. Rapport: We decided to involve the users of the system from the initial stage. This helped us understand their pain points and also helped us build a rapport with the team.
    2. Communication: All along the implementation, we ensured that the importance of each data point was explained to the entire team. This helped them understand the significance and therefore made the adoption easier.
    3. User Acceptance Testing: A detailed User Acceptance Testing was performed in person to make sure that the right process was followed by the users. It also helped us understand practical problems faced by the team which were eventually addressed by our Implementation Team.
  2. Phased Implementation: We implemented the system by starting small. We implemented one module at a time and then started working on cross functional requirements. This helped us keep the implementation simple without introducing complexities before time.
  3. Industry Best Practices: Our knowledge of Industry Best Practices helped us limit the amount of Customisation required to satisfy certain requirements.

Project Management

To ensure on-time delivery of this Project we worked in an Agile manner. We broke down the project in the following components:

  1. Enlisted all the requirements
  2. Analysed all dependencies
  3. Made a list of all the data required
  4. Prepared a prioritised list of Tasks with person responsible for the task

Once the tasks were allocated, everyone including the Aeron Systems team started working on their tasks. Since all the independent tasks were performed simultaneously, it reduced the total timeline of the project. This approach helped us Release our first version of the solution with actual data in a short span of 4 weeks, which was followed by 4 weeks of User Acceptance Testing and making minor tweaks based on the feedback from the Client.