On The Razor Edge

On
The Razor Edge

Thirty-year-old Rajeev Tandon’s meteoric
rise reads like a child prodigy’s story. Starting as a Management Trainee (Systems) with
Goodlass Nerolac Paints Ltd, Tandon subsequently moved up to become MIS Manager at
Pepsico, heading the Western India IT function from Mumbai. He joined Gillette in April
1996, where he is responsible for the entire IT functions of the Indian operations. A
Bachelor in Physics Honors and MBA from the University of Delhi, Tandon’s motto in life
is: "Achieve gold standards through executional excellence." In an interview
with Sharmila Chand, Tandon reveals how the motto is held forth in
Gillette. Excerpts:

First, tell us about the IT
build-up of Gillette?

Being into FMCG industry it’s important to have a solid S&D [Sales and Distribution]
infrastructure. It is in this area that IT provides S&D backbone on WAN connectivity
to our 30 odd branch offices/C&FAs [Carrying and Forwarding Agents] and five regional
offices. IT also facilitates in the manufacturing and material management which includes
an ERP application. Also deployed are the CAD/CAM systems for mold designing, shopfloor
planning and layouts, movement of goods etc. Other systems include Payroll and Fixed
Assets software working in tandem. Backend software comprises OLAP tool,
Oracle/Express-based sales analyzer, market research software-Quanvert retail audit and
IRI non-retail audit, marketing funds controlling, HRIS [Human Resources Information
Systems] etc. In a nutshell, the entire organization works in a highly automated manner
with lot of dependence on state-of-the-art IT tools and communication infrastructure.
Every single employee is 100 percent PC literate and has his own PC to work on.

Being an MNC, how is Gillette
different from other companies in its IT functioning?

Outsourcing is a well-established feature at Gillette. Our entire networking management,
both LAN and WAN have been outsourced to MicroLand as Facilities Management. Similar is
the case with software development, implementation etc. which have been outsourced. The
managerial time which we save due to outsourcing is then utilized for BPR, strategic IT
management, change management etc., which actually is a function of a true IT group.

How does your manpower meet this
exercise?

We do not do headcount, which is a derivative of outsourcing. Gillette does not have a
battery of in-house so-called EDP/MIS professionals. We believe in keeping our size small,
yet a team of solid and robust IT professionals.

How much does the company spend on
IT every year?

About 2.5 percent of the annual revenues.

How critical is IT to your company?
Gillette is committed to leverage IT for gaining competitive advantage. We have an IT
steering committee chaired by the CEO. This reflects the top-down positioning of IT within
the organization. The operational IT Bible: STP-Strategic Technology Plan for the next
five years, is formulated well in advance in consultation with the Strategic Business Plan
for five years. How the organization is to take shape until 2002 is already frozen, both
from the business perspective as well as the technology point of view.

Which are the major focus areas
these days?

Gillette worldwide is moving from the legacy systems to SAP R/3. We are now getting ready
to roll out SAP to Indian operations as soon as possible. We will do the major Business
Process Reengineering and weed out the inefficiencies in the system. Then, we will be
shortly on gillweb.com-Gillette’s intranet site. Now that Gillette intranet and Internet
messaging will be a reality, our entire WAN strategy is being reworked across the country
comprising 30 C&FAs, eight plants, five regional offices, six other offices, and the
head office.

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