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Against the grain: Bucking the outsourcing trend

Kanika Goswami | Nov. 24, 2008
Underneath its distaste for chrome, glass and anything loudly modern, VST's been busy pulling off an IT feat few other modern companies have attempted.

In the meanwhile, poor support was taking a toll on VST's Tobacco Inventory Management Systems, an application at the heart of the company. The repercussions began to be felt among the 15,000 tobacco farmers who had associated themselves with VST and were crucial to business.

Then, in 2006, the Union budget, which was held on the last working day of February, required all companies to amend their taxes. "We had to revise all our invoices for taxes because our trucks had to leave the factory with new prices," remembers Nemani.

With no support from his vendor, Nemani was left to deal with the problem himself. "I was up till 2 AM at the factory and there were about 30 trucks lined up outside the factory. I worked 72 straight hours to ensure that invoices were made and that the trucks kept moving," Nemani says.

That was the last straw.

Against The Tide

His presence -- not only at crucial junctures such as these -- but throughout the project, made it easier when Nemani asked VST's management to let him bring the company's IT back in-house. "After they outsource, most companies don't bother. In our case, while 100 percent responsibility had gone to our outsourcing partner, my responsibility grew to 200 percent just to ensure nothing went wrong."

In that sense, Nemani says, he was always at the helm. Clubbed with the fact that outsourcing was not really an option any longer, Nemani asked for a chance to run it himself. "When VST cannot avoid risk by outsourcing, we thought that we could convert that risk into an opportunity," he says.

But that decision could not have been easy for VST's management: as bad as the situation seemed, changing horses mid-stream could have only been a daunting proposition. Factor in that they were going to entrust the backbone of their business to an accountant and Nemani's request must have seemed absurd.

To their credit, VST's management looked at the problem practically and showed boldness at a critical time. They gave Nemani the nod to bring VST's IT back inhouse -- but not before they put him through due diligence.

"When I offered to takeover IT, I was interviewed by Sankar over two days. He wanted to get to the bottom of: 'why do you want to get into IT?' He wanted to be sure because there were so many potential issues. I think I convinced him when I told him that he could replace me if I didn't do well in IT," Nemani says with a smile.

It was a bluff VST's management never intended to call, mainly because they were not going to risk their business -- and the additional Rs 1.4 crore that Nemani requested for -- on sheer bravado.


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