A Rich Brew

It was at Poona Coffee House at Deccan Gymkhana where a young NR Narayana
Murthy proposed Sudha Murthy over a cup of coffee. Today, a Barista Lavazza
outlet stands just a kilometer away from the coffee house and is thronged by
youngsters, who are unlikely to know that checkered history. However, coffees
connection with IT remains, best exemplified by that Barista outlet…and
several others across the country.

In a span of ten years since its inception, it has witnessed multiple
takeovers. What started out as Barista Coffee Company by Kolkata based Turner
Morrison, in 2000 was taken over by Sterling Infotech Group in 2004. Later in
2007, Italian coffee giant, Lavazza, bought all stakes and re-branded it as
Barista Lavazza. Despite the changes, one thing that has remained intact with
the company is its IT back-up.

"As the business spread, it was extremely important for us to have
connectivity among stores and have a complete control over them," recalls Rajesh
Sharma, chief financial officer, Barista Lavazza. "Hence, we started
implementing SAP in 2006. It was mainly done to collect sales and purchase data
from all outlets, and then analyze each outlet as a cost center or a profit
center based on its revenue, expense and assets figures," he says.

Rajesh Sharma, chief financial officer, Barista

IT helps analyze if an outlet is a cost center or a profit

Data collected from each point of sale goes to the back-end, where it is
uploaded on SAP, and a centralized database is maintained. Later, a tracking
team at Lavazza analyzes this data with the help of Hyperiona business
intelligence tool. This is done on a monthly basis, hence enabling constant
review of each outlet. Currently, SAP at Barista includes four modules,
namelyfinance, cost, supply chain management, and sales & distribution. Each
module has tremendously helped the operations of the respective department. For
instance, the sales & distribution team now has a fair idea of the timeframe
when footfall is at its peak and the products that move faster at each outlet.
The module also helps the team assess which format and size of store will work
best for different locations. Similarly, real-time information on raw materials
available and replenishments required helps the supply chain team channelize and
predict demand at each store more accurately.

Such are the benefits, that the management feels SAP implementation was worth
the effort. "Back in 2006, we had to pay Rs 20 mn for SAP. Today its much
cheaper. But the business edge we got from being an early adopter was
tremendous," points out Sharma. The company did face initial hiccups. "Most of
the data entry was done at the point of sale and often there would be errors. It
took us two years to settle down with the new system. But today, its the basic
need of business," says Sharma.

Coming to the front-end, the company has outsourced its customer relationship
management to a service provider. This apart, it has enabled Wi-Fi zones in
forty-five outlets. Recently, it has joined Ideas use mobile, save paper
campaign. Through a unique mobile application that can be accessed at Barista
outlets, customers can now view the menu card and receive bills on their mobiles
rather than on paper. This application is currently available in ninety outlets
across Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bengaluru, Hyderabad, and Pune. "We are
also trying to make our point of sale application more interactive, informative
and user-friendly. There are plans to install some multimedia informative
screens in a few outlets," sums up Sharma.

Monalisa Das

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