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Ramco Systems: Going beyond ERP

Zafar Anjum | Feb. 26, 2013
Indian IT company Ramco Systems has been around for about two decades. Will it finally make it in the tough ERP market with its ERP on cloud and ‘Beyond ERP’ message?

As the story goes (documented in a case study by Ross School of Business, Michigan, USA) by mid-1990, Ramco Systems had just finished the development of its e.Applications ERP suite. The fledgling company was in search of a client where it could showcase its new solution package. Ramco Cements, its sister company, looked like the perfect guinea pig for this. They offered to assist Madras Cements and solve its problem by deploying the recently completed e.Applications ERP suite.

A Reluctant Guinea Pig

But the guinea pig was cautious about this offer, even though it couldn't have come from a more credible provider. The proposition was fraught with risk as many companies had gone out of business because of failed ERP implementation. In addition, the proposed ERP system, e.Applications 1.0, while being a completely developed system, had never been tested in a production environment and also not customised.

However, the fact of the matter was that both firms needed each other badly-like the dramatic need of the two characters in a narrative. Ramco Systems needed to demonstrate a successful implementation at Madras Cements in order to be able to successfully compete in the ERP market. And Madras Cements needed to put its house in order in terms of its ERP requirements.

After the initial vacillation, when Madras Cements agreed to the offer, things didn't work out fine as feared. The first attempt to implement ERP failed and after facing opposition from the old guard, the e.Applications 3.0 system by Ramco Systems was finally implemented.

Having tasted success in the implementation of ERP Version 3.0, the company continued to use the application till 2008, when a need was felt for improvements in the system. That is when the company decided to upgrade the ERP to the version 4.2, which was a Web-based and centralised system.

This was a big leap for Madras Cements. When Dharmakrishnan first set forth on the ERP exercise, he did not even have a computer at his desk, let alone having computerised processes to track his business. Today, he is running his company off an iPad.

But this dramatic turn was only one side of the story.

The Emergence of Ramco Systems

On the other, the success of ERP implementation at Madras Cement gave the Ramco System's solution a validity that mattered in the market.

With this validation, it was time for Ramco Systems to spread its wings. According to a report in The Business Today, Ramco Systems had hardly any income between 1994 and 1997 but it spent more than Rs100 crore (about US$18.5 million), employed over 1,000 people, and designed Marshal 3.0, which was launched in 1997. It was Ramco Systems' first full-fledged ERP product. Microsoft founder Bill Gates launched it in India, which was quite unusual. It created good buzz for the product and the initial sales of Marshal 3.0 were brisk and impressive.


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