Om Logistics : Back to the Future



Being an ISO 9001:2000 certified company, Om Logistics is known for its value
added services with real-time online information. The company has its presence
across the country, covering over 450 satellite locations. And what has made Om
Logistics special is its ability to update online data on real-time basis even
from its remotest branches. This has been made possible through its home-grown
ERP system developed on Micro Focus COBOL platform. Deployed in 2001, the
application has helped the company to improve its overall business productivity.
The company has grown from sixty to 450 branches and achieved a turnover of Rs
500 crore in 2008, from that of Rs 35 crore in 2001.

At present, the company has over thousand delivery locations spread across
the length and breadth of the country, and a fleet size of 4,000 dedicated
vehicles. All these are managed effectively by the in-house application deployed
centrally to provide seamless services to its customers.

Logistical Conundrum
Prior to the adoption of the present infrastructure, Om Logistics had to
face major challenges related to IT. The company had a scattered network in more
than sixty locations across the country. Lack of centralized connectivity, led
to the problem of information flow within the organization. Hence, data had to
be couriered to the head office which was then manually fed into the system.
Therefore, there was no real-time data available, which led to a delay in
reporting, and hence, delays in bill generation. Many clients refused to pay due
to the delays in their bills being generated, and this often resulted in revenue
loss for the company.

The company was unable to provide its customers online value added services.
In addition, Om Logistics needed information on the movement of outbound
materials, status of its fleet and manpower resources in order to plan a
schedule. It was also important to know in real-time if any problem had occurred
during transportation liketraffic blockades, disasters, accidents, or thefts.
The business required faster decision-making, quicker response time, and
transparency in operations. In its quest to achieve greater customer and
employee satisfaction, Om Logistics decided to improve its IT infrastructure and
implement a core enterprise solution. Before we integrated and implemented this
solution, we had some other program installed. But it did not provide us the
expected results. We wanted our customers to get real-time online information on
their consignments. But the previous solution did not provide it. Also, we were
unable to maintain transparency within the overall operations and that was a
hindrance for our business process and growth, says SK Goel, vice president, Om
Logistics.

The COBOL Touch
Realizing the need for a centralized system, the company made a thorough
research on the available solutions and finally went on to deploy the present
one. The integration of the GPS system with Micro Focus COBOL application
allowed real-time data from the vehicle consignments location. It could be
accessed within five minutes, and thus helps in avoiding the uncertainty of
solely depending on the manual feedback of the driver. This helped in providing
valuable information which enabled better resource utilization, explains Goel.

All kinds of new-age
applications can be developed on COBOL and the cost is much lower

Ashish Masand,
country manager, Micro Focus India

The application that we
developed on the COBOL platform allowed us to run it even under poor
connectivity conditions

SK
Goel
, VP, Om Logistics

There was some initial skepticism while opting for COBOL due to the perceived
notions of it being obsolete. However, after a user acceptance test for a month,
Om Logistics discovered that the solution required low bandwidth, is stable, low
on maintenance and cost. We required a solution that would run even in low
bandwidth or even through dial-up or a mobile phone connection. COBOL has this
unique feature that runs in minimum bandwidth. The application that we developed
on the COBOL platform allowed us to run it even under poor connectivity
conditions, says Goel.

The new system allowed all the branch offices to be directly connected to the
head office through a central server. All data now resides on the central server
which can be accessed and updated online through Telnet anytime, anywhere. It
also removed the need for regular data synchronization. With improved
infrastructure and data quality, we are able to maintain a good work-life
balance. Real-time access to data and standardizing technology processes has
helped us provide excellent service to our customers, he says.

The application also saved Om Logistics from expenses on storage and server
requirements, and security solutions. We have installed firewall in our server
that automatically identifies threats and blocks them at the entry level. The
system is working fine for the last eight years, and so far we havent faced any
security outbreaks, informs Goel.

Tracking IT Now
Through the above mentioned solution, IT has proved to be a key enabler for
Om Logistics in terms of expanding its business rapidly and minimizing business
challenges related to this industry in general. It has reduced operational
costs, maximized business efficiencies and increased profits as well. Through
improved billing cycles, it has reduced the number of outstanding receivables,
enhanced real-time tracking system, and improved customer service. Therefore, it
has enhanced the operational, financial, and customer support system.

Speaking on the effectiveness of the COBOL platform Ashish Masand, country
manager, Micro Focus India says, Its a misconception that COBOL is not the
right platform on which one can build high involvement online applications. All
kinds of new-age applications can be developed on COBOL and the cost is much
lower. Elaborating further on the desired results achieved by Om Logistics, he
says, Unlike Java or ASP based solutions, COBOL requires less complexity in
overall infrastructure. The formers is more network and resource hungry in terms
of computing requirements. COBOL provides equally effective online solutions to
its users at a much lower cost. Om Logistics is a typical example of it.

Today, Om Logistics has seen a significant improvement in its communications
and data transfer ratios and have been able to achieve an increase in output,
improved productivity and reduced costs. With data being directly entered into
the central server, the company has achieved accelerated turnaround time and
optimized workflow. This led to a reduction in errors and reliable and accurate
data flow with fast, real-time exchange of information.

In addition to the implementation of a self-service system, customers can
track and keep a record of their respective consignments. This service has
resulted in enhanced customer service and improved quality control, which has
increased customer satisfaction. Apart from the transactional and business
benefits achieved, our manpower requirement also reduced considerably. We could
expand our business without any additional spend on IT infrastructure, informs
Goel. The company has further plans to market this in-house application to other
players in the industry. However, we would prefer to do it outside India
through some partnership, he signs off.

Piyali Guha
piyalig@cybermedia.co.in

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