A Deal with Winter Blues
eClerx Services

On a cold and windy winter night while Kapil looked out of his office window, he realized that the weather inside was no different. Endless work had made everyone unresponsive and frosty. The situation would only worsen with the upcoming high volume season.“Our work is not specific and does not follow any kind of set procedure. Only the experienced people in the process are able to complete work on time” said one of the newly hired resource. The work was monotonous in nature, and consumed significant amount of time.

This winter was nothing new. Many other team leads had tried in the past to deal with this problem and had failed miserably. To lead his team out of this dark night, Kapil decided to involve the Quality team that had helped them in fighting these winters, in the past.

With help of his project mentor Pratikesh, Kapil developed a quick action plan that included the use of internal framework for process improvement, 'WiSE', for waste identification and solution development. Looking at the increase in restlessness of the team members working in the process, Kapil decided to include the technology team to speed up the solution phase.

The process was scoped for robotic process automation. This solution was equivalent to setting up a fireplace in this cold winter night. The solution was proposed to the client, but Kapil had not anticipated what was coming next.

The client refused the solution due to high cost of implementation.

Not ready to give up, Kapil and Pratikesh conducted multiple discussions with the team, which resulted in generation of possibilities like standardizing deal names, development of a deal name repository, tool enhancement, etcetera.

Solutions were proposed to the client one-by-one. Only to be rejected one after the other.

Sitting by the office window, Kapil felt that he had not done anything to fight the chill. Once again, he called the project mentor to discuss if anything that could be done to help his team. This time Pratikesh proposed to combine multiple solutions that were identified previously. They sat together and decided to build an internal repository of deal patterns which were then coded in an autonomated (automation with human intervention) solution. This tool had the capability of extracting the deal name based on deal patterns.

This gave birth to the 'Auto Deal Identifier' tool. This solution was able to draw customer buy-in. Further, the team was able to reduce manual efforts in the process by 92%. The solution drew more synergy amongst the teams and generated the heat that was required in such chilly nights.

Tales of their deed were communicated so that it would become a source of inspiration to sustain their legacy.

Adaptability to Technology
Tata Teleservices

As the businesses are evolving with more digitization, we are constantly looking at innovating things that help us to do our business more smartly and also increase our efficiency.

It was during one of our weekly review meetings with the leadership team we came to a discussion point where we pondered on how our Channel Sales Manager, who is our frontline contact with retailers and distributors, can add maximum value during his market visit. We wanted to understand if he is planning his market visit on priority tasks and if yes, what is it that is helping him to plan better . And if there is any way we can use technology to assist him.

 As the discussion progressed, we started building on his ‘Day Out’ in the field listing on the specific tasks from beginning of the day.  The first question was - How is he planning his daily market visit? We realized, it’s not a simple thing to plan your day well in advance everyday. Even at senior level people at times aren’t sure how to prioritize their work.

Next thought up was how and what he talks when he meets up with the channel partner or retailer? Is there a structure to it? While there is no dearth of information available to him which he carries with him but again which are top things that he should be discussing is critical.

One of our colleagues then said “Can there be a structured data dashboard which the channel sales team can access on the move? “. This will help them refer the data and initiate the discussion looking at those data points.

The ideas then just started to come on table. Next we heard was someone saying “can there be a digital list of retailer with their performance as well, basis which sales visit can be planned and prioritized basis their performance.

That was enough to set the ball rolling for developing a SMART APP (Sales Management and Reporting Tool ) , a structured performance dashboard that each of the Channel Sales user could access and deep dive for his territory, for his team, for his zone, for his region going upwards to set of COO’s for the regional head and finally President and MD getting a national picture in a tablet screen with a click on tab.

With the SMART APP, the frontline sales user could access his set of retailer and plan his market visit in advance basis their past and current performance using the calendar in the tablet. High productivity retailers, having higher frequency of visits which is indicated by red and green dots in the app. Daily plan pops up every morning for the user to follow. On selecting a retailer/channel partner its gives a preview of performance indicators, followed by service related questions and finally remarks before submitting the visit.

Other feature like taking picture of activities done in the market, capturing competition action, guiding the user to ask business led questions and tick mark in the app where some other salient features of the SMART APP that has helped structure the business discussion not only in the market but within the organizational reviews.

A good movie has all characters playing their role as assigned, similarly here IT help join the dots with the creative sales team requirements. The developer stuck the brief given that the app isn’t complex to use. Various versions changed hands to ensure simplicity is maintained. SCM helped resourcing tablets, creating buffer for damages. The premier was done circle by circle with 100% audience attending and accessing the app during the launch session to explain all the features.

The channel sales users were initially apprehensive about being tracked through the app but after seeing the many benefits that the SMART APP would give them were delighted to accept and adapt to it as it will simplify their work to a greater extent. They are the true heroes who have been using this religiously for the last two years now.

Since inception we have rolled SMART 1.0 to SMART 4.0 version with lot many more filters making the search more meaningful and added many more tools. Today SMART is an integral part of S & D ways of working and stands a backbone of performance.

Aspiring Green – The Million Dreams Biosphere
Vedanta, Sesa Goa Iron Ore

The earth was roaring with rage as the thunderbolts and storm hit the ground. It had been a dark gloomy weather since more than a year. Sara tossed and turned in her bed unable to sleep from the smoke that filled her room from the nearby factories.

A big jolt woke her from the sleep and she was shocked to see animals standing inside her house!!

There were wolves, jackals, hyenas and towering over all of them stood the lion. Oddly they all looked famished and on the verge of death.

Suddenly the lion roared, “You are shocked to see us here. Why? The destruction you have caused should not surprise you humans. You destroyed all forests and lands to satisfy your greed.”

Sara was baffled, “But I have not cut any trees or forests. I am even a vegetarian. I did not kill anyone. Then how am I at fault?!”

The lion roared, “You say you did not cut trees, what about the endless papers you wasted for which they cut more trees? All herbivores have perished. Now we have nothing to eat. The reckless behavior of humans is responsible for the downfall of our dear forests. We will take revenge KILL THEM ALL!!”

Sara jumped from the bed to realize it was just a nightmare. But she was still trembling from the gory picture in her head of barren lands and dead animals. She decided to take responsibility and change things.

Sara went to office next day, with the nightmare still playing in her mind like a horror story. As she looked at the heap of bills and invoices that towered her desk for the commercial department. She could see an opportunity of rectification. She called her team and shared with them the idea of digitisation. The team together brainstormed to come up with an efficient blue print of digitisation of all bills and invoices which gave end-to-end solution as well as timely processing of payment of vendors.

Overtime, Sara and her team got rewarded by the management as digitisation saved them lot of time, money and resources. Vendors were happy as they could check status any time and got their payments on time. Everything became online and therefore no need to generate travel or courier invoice.

Thus saving lot of paper and resources.

From that day, she got good sleep and dreamt of a green and clean land with all animals and humans living in prosperity.

Challenging Today for a Better Tomorrow
P.D. Hinduja Hospital and MRC

Mr. & Mrs. Goswami were in my office on a Monday morning, and as they narrated their experience in an emotional outburst, there was a strong message for the hospital.

“Our 2 year old son Arnav had high fever and diarrhoea for two days and on the third day, i.e. 10th March, he became drowsy and we rushed him the hospital to Dr. N. Shah. On his advice for immediate admission we rushed to the admission counter at 12 noon only to be informed “sorry, no beds available”. In utter despair we waited in the casualty, with a sick child in my lap who was started on an IV antibiotic drip. We were unprepared for a casualty stay and were drained taking care of our child and ourselves. At 10 pm a bed was given for Arnav! After a comfortable hospital stay, completing seven days of antibiotic course on 16th March, with improvement in Arnav’s condition, we eagerly awaited discharge. But in spite of enquiring, we were not given a fixed discharge date.  Finally on 18th March morning suddenly the doctor confirmed discharge at 11 am. We happily arranged for a car by 12 noon, giving an hour for the usual discharge formalities. However, the reality was far more complex!  We were waiting till 4 pm as the discharge summary wasn’t ready. We kept asking the nurses for updates, but were only told that ‘doctors are informed’. Then when the summary was ready, the medicines took another hour to be delivered. Finally, we were called for bill payment, only to realize half day bed charges were added to the bill! Discussions, arguments and finally intervention of customer care; a refund was worked out! We were exhausted. My baby restless. Even our relatives at home were worried because we were taking so long to come home! After nine long hours, we finally left the hospital, taking with us bad memories of the hospital despite the fact that the medical care was beyond par and our child had recovered well. Will we come back if needed…? I don’t know!”

We are a 66 year old multispecialty, tertiary care hospital with 400 beds. During 2016, we admitted more than 33,000 patients with over 1, 30,000 inpatient days.

Lessons Learned:

  • We have long waiting list for admissions
  • Process inefficiency is leading to underutilization of hospital resources and evident patient dissatisfaction
  • We need patient’s involvement in the care plan
  • In this case patient’s hospital stay could be easily reduced by 30-35hrs with a proper discharge planning, proactive approach, team effort and simpler processes

The hospital management reviewed the above mentioned and other similar cases to improve our performance.

We decided to undertake a project to reduce Average Length Of Stay (ALOS) of patients by 3.6% from 3.91 to 3.77. This was done by improving both core clinical and non-clinical processes like the admission and discharge processes. This in turn will improve bed availability and also ensure a happy and memorable patient experience.

Changing the Wheel of the Car
JSW Global Business Solutions

The backlogs were mounting for the vendor payments and for PO releases. There was lot of noise, that "the head count available is not adequate to meet the input volumes". This opinion was fuelled by the fact that head count was not released from the plant locations (parent company), during inception of our company, as per the pre-transition study done by an external consultant.

Also, the volumes have been continuously increasing since inception and are more than the volumes estimated before transition by about 25%. The opinion thus created, is that due to this lot of backlogs are being created in the process resulting into emergencies and firefighting. The overall situation looked unmanageable. The employees were spending extended hours in office to make the ends meet, and a stage had come, where the entire team had got highly frustrated, and had started complaining that their health and personal life is getting out of gear.

Above all this, the company’s Annual Operating Plan (AOP) required an increase in productivity by 20%, (as management expected some benefits from transition to take place), which at that time looked as an impossible task.

Considering AOP as the “Voice of Customer”, and in order to find a resolution to mounting pressures, our CEO, Navneet Bansal, set a challenging goal to save the situation from failure. He floated the idea of undertaking this project, across the Procure to Pay process.

A cross-functional project team was selected including stakeholders from plant locations and all verticals of the process. Persons from IT were also roped into the team, so that they can help where technology can be of use. The best of the talent was chosen, to ensure that no stone is left unturned to bring the desired change.

The project was launched and:

  • Monitoring through data was started at granular level to control the process fully
  • Standardisation and simplification of the processes was done
  • Where possible, technology and digitisation was used
  • Communication processes were strengthened, by installing help desk, portals
  • Governance was strengthened through VCs and personal visits
  • Load balancing and concepts of mass production were used.

In-view of the criticality of the project to business existence, the CEO took keen interest in its success.

The results were widely unexpected, as these were against the common belief that the situation cannot be managed without adding headcount. The project team was rewarded in the Quarterly Rewards function, and the success story was also published in the JSW group news-letter.

Chromium: Blood for Stainless Steel
Jindal Stainless Hisar

A Stainless Steel Manufacturing major in India was facing competition from cheaper imports from China. COO was a worried man; to sustain the company’s market share he had to rework the costs to stay competitive.

During the review meeting itself a young and energetic metallurgist, Mr. X quipped that we must look at the chromium losses and do something to reduce these losses.

COO: Why Mr. X? Why do you think so?

Mr. X replied: Sir, chromium to stainless steel is like blood to human body. Its very existence depends upon the presence of chromium.

COO: Yes. I do agree.

Mr. X: Sir, if we work on other issues they may impact cost of a particular type of stainless steel. But improvement in chromium recovery we will gain cost benefit in all types of stainless steel.

COO: But Mr. X, your chromium loss occurs at different stages of production.

Mr. X: Sir, I have done a Pareto analysis of the magnitude of loss at different stages and found that significant amount of chromium is lost during Electric Arc Melting.

COO: Ok. Mr. X so you lead this project to reduce chromium oxidation at EAF.

Mr. X: Definitely Sir.

A cross-functional team was made comprising members from

  1. Steel Melt Operations : Impacted Team, Main Lead,
  2. R&D/QA : Process Guide/Measurements,
  3. Maintenance: Equipment Health/Availability & Modifications, if required.

The team started to work immediately on the task at hand. Various technical papers and other scientific literature were browsed. Past data was analysed using advanced statistical tools like multiple regression and DOE. A comprehensive implementation plan was made and successfully completed within stipulated time frame.

COO and senior management reviewed the project status every fortnight to understand the progress and provide support and other useful inputs.

After all the hard work the results were out there for everyone to see. The team was successful in reducing Chromium oxidation i.e. loss of chromium in EAF slag by 1.5% through replacement of manual practice by injection practice. This saved Rs.3.51 Crore for the company per year, recurring.

The project got full support from the workers as the major outcome of the project was reduction in manual injection practice. Looking at the results, COO provided an opportunity to the team for showcasing this project journey to the Vice Chairman who applauded the team for the improvement and personally felicitated the entire Team.

Death and Resurrection
YES Bank


On a daily basis I am bombarded with so many offers from my bank…so many coupons…so many rewards points…loyalty points. However, when I wish to actually avail them, no offer is enticing enough.

In my experience, these alluring cash backs are never insta! I even wonder if they are ever credited to my account?

What’s the use. When I actually need to shop I find no discounts!


The “Reward Programs” cost is high. I wonder if they really work? Various reports, excels and MIS show that some activity is happening. But does it is really impact the bottom line?


Eventually, last week, the Managing Director ordered that the current Reward Programs should be buried. The cost is much too high with negligible visible impact.

Angry, he also dictated that unless the team developed a cost-effective plan, they can pack their bags.

There was a flood of gloom. The team assembled in the boardroom. Tense. How could they resurrect the loyalty program?

This meant replanning. Quality replanning. Disruptive planning. The first step in quality planning is:
Who is the customer? The second step is: What are the customer needs?

The enlightened team realized that their customers are very confused with the current Reward Programs. The initial excitement wit offers, invariably experiences sudden death! Sad.

Consequently, the replanned loyalty program offered a differentiator – INSTA CASH BACK. The processes were designed to win customer trust.

Post roll out…VOICE OF CUSTOMER….

Wow.. This is exactly what I was looking forward to! How did the bank know? I can actually get cash back discounts instantly!! Wonderful!! This bank understands me.

Customer loyalty increased. The Managing Director reversed his dictate.

Fraud Terminator
eClerx Services

Chetan received a worrying phone call from one of his clients. The client had raised concern, over the dropping performance of the team and the lack of tool feedback. This was something that he had been expecting from the last two months. Thinking about the same he started walking towards the cafeteria.

On his way to the cafeteria, Chetan started recollecting the initial days when the process – GSD Fraud Monitoring was transitioned to his team. The client, a global leader in computer manufacturing, was facing severe financial losses due to the fraudulent warranty claims in the market. To curb this, the client had designed a system that would assign a unique service tag to each product being produced and then the product would be tracked using this for its lifetime. Since then the process of uploading the service tags into the newly designed tool was managed by Chetan and his team. The team was also tasked with doing sample audits on the uploaded service tags and provides regular feedback to the client on the functioning of the tool.

This process ran smoothly when the team had to process service tags of a single product class per day. However the situation changed once the team was asked to manage five additional product classes which increased the volume by 300%. Owing to this increased volume, Chetan estimated that, this would require tripling of the team size. However, the client agreed to only double it owing to the budget crunch. This led to team members not being able to manage the upload of service tag and the audit of upload volume at the same time. Not knowing what to do Chetan reached out to the black belt for support.

The black belt analyzed the process and suggested that a six sigma project be initiated. Subsequently the project team was put together and senior management approvals taken. The problem was defined, measured and analyzed on all the possible aspects. Solutions were developed, but they needed to be tested. Hence a pilot test was initiated to test the solutions. However, the pilot was a failure and the solutions had to be redesigned. The project team got together to understand what went wrong to ensure that they come up with unique solution for the problem resolution. All available alternatives were thoroughly analyzed and studied. This led to implementation of out-of-the-box ideas, which finally led to extraordinary result.

The client appreciated Chetan and the black belt by rewarding them with gift vouchers.