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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.

Nemani recruited six people and provided them with three months of intensive training in SAP. Hiring and training, he says, still worked out cheaper than the outsourcing package -- by almost 20 percent.

As Hyderabad's evenings got chillier, the city geared up for festival season. Dussehra and Id were round the corner and Diwali wasn't too far. While almost everyone logged off early to shop for the festivities, Nemani's team was putting in extra hours at work. It was make-or-break time and the team knew it. The slightest trip up could mean the end of everything Nemani had promised. "The whole company watched my team and I, wondering whether we were up to the job."

It wasn't easy, Nemani recalls. "October 17, 2007, was the last working day (given the holidays and the weekend) before the upgrade went up on Monday morning (October 22). At that point one of my team members quit, asking to be relieved immediately," Nemani remembers. As hard as it was, Nemani knew that the team would cope. "At VST, we do not allow people to hold work at ransom. Nobody is indispensable. As a CIO, I knew [the ERP upgrade] would work -- with or without him. I was sure we would manage with the in-house team."

Manage they did. Nemani's team successfully completed the upgrade. The new version went live at the appointed time, and everyone breathed a sigh of relief. But even as Nemani validated the confidence that was placed in him and his team, the last few days had taught him a lesson: attrition -- the problem that had crippled vendor -- had been insourced with the company's ERP.

In his endeavor to fight attrition, Nemani says he has support from across the organization. "We were all confident -- not only the CIO/CFO but also all the team heads -- that we are one team."

Nemani also made one thing clear with his vendor: that there would be poaching of each other's people for six months after the ERP was insourced. "Today, we have enough backup, so at any point in time, anyone leaving cannot really spell trouble," he says.

Today, Nemani maintains a good relationship with his vendor -- partially because they still handle other parts of the outsourcing deal. But, also because Nemani made it a point that there would be no bad blood between them. He isn't just taking the high road. He says he empathizes with his vendor's attrition problem. In fact, after a recent employee satisfaction survey, Nemani's outsourcer found that its happiest employees were those stationed at VST.

Nemani's cordial relationship with his vendor has another reason: they taught him how to fulfill his new role as a vendor -- and he's gentlemanly enough to acknowledge it. "I have to say, all that I've learnt about this business [consultancy] is what I have learnt from my vendor," he says.


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