Garment industry has always shown resistance when it comes to software implementation. The reasons given are several including high costs, low adaptability and poor acceptance. Tirupur however, has led the industry with an example, by inventing a model which not only is well-designed for their use but is also cost-effective, Team StitchWorld reports.
Tirupur, known as the textile city of India, is now ready to take up challenges of shorter fashion cycles. E-readiness Centre (ERC), the IT wing of Tirupur Exporters’ Association (TEA) with 700 me
mbers, was established with support from Microsoft in June 2007 to oversee the procurement and deployment of new IT solutions. The ERC has launched a web-based ‘pay per use’ model for its members that includes online office with anti-spam, storage up to 10 GB, hosted email by Global Outlook, email services through Microsoft Exchange (starting at Rs. 250 per user per month) and Unified Communications, a seamless communication software by Wipro Communications.
“Many exporters have been misled by several software and IT companies, resulting in hundreds of different Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) applications running in the city,” explains Sanjay Kumar Gupta, Chief Executive, E-readiness Centre. “We now plan to have a centralized ERP system covering all the aspects of the industry that can be delivered to the exporters for a monthly fee of Rs. 3,000 to Rs. 4,000 without having to invest upfront,” he says.
Sanjay is confident that planned ERP will not only improve the connectivity between various task owners but also drastically improve the efficiencies and help cut down on wastages and shipment delays. E-readiness Centre (ERC) has floated a proposal for the ERP for which bids have been received from various major companies in India like Wipro, TCS, HP, HCL and Infosys. The final decision on the ERP will be taken by the company this month with assistance from Ernst & Young as consultants, while the implementation will take another 6 months.
Sanjay, who is also an Electronics Engineer from IIT Delhi, heads an SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle) at Tirupur called G-Tech Info Solutions, constituted to speed up the adoption of information and communication technology (ICT) in the knitwear cluster. “The problems with most of the IT solutions are not their implementation but their continuation. G-tech focuses on sustaining all our IT efforts in Tirupur,” explains Sanjay.
“IT penetration among small and medium enterprises (SMEs) is pretty low (with only about 2-3 million using any IT program among India’s 8 million SMEs), because the IT industry has not yet understood what SMEs want. Even their capital expenditure capabilities are not large enough compared to what any big or even medium enterprise has. And even if they manage to have enough money to spend on systems, they hardly have enough leftovers for other miscellaneous expenditures, not to mention the patience involved, of handling an attrition-prone set of manpower commanding IT system,” explains Sanjay.
Significantly, this new approach would add numbers and strength to the offerings of the E-readiness centre to the ecosystem. Reaction from the Exporter “All the offerings we see in the market are attractive. But we cannot afford all of them. For instance, a good quality ERP comes at a minimum of Rs. 25 lakh for the SMEs. For us, it’s too costly,” avers Muthukumaraswamy R of APR Textiles. The cluster approach, he feels, makes access to good software possible.
Muthukumaraswamy further cites the example of a basic tool, the E-mail, which about 20 of his staff members use. If his company were to host its own software, it would cost him Rs. 25 lakh in purchasing it and further about Rs. 50,000 per month on its maintenance, including AMCs, manpower costs, etc. Now, he could have that at prices as low as Rs. 250 per user per month. All he needs per user is a computer with a Net connection.
Muthukumaraswamy is also enthusiastic about the unified communication solution on offer by Wipro. “In one tool, we have video, audio and data integrated,” he says.
Currently, his supervisors send real time information through SMS on his mobile phone – giving the production status, deviations, if any, emerging from inspection, planning, etc. via www.160by2.com which is a free sms sending website. In time to come, the tool would help integrate most forms of communication so that a decision maker can view it when he requires and in whatever medium. With a ‘per use’ model, he expects to have quick and high returns.