Pantaloons: Scaling with SAP

By : |June 7, 2007 0

Shashwat Chaturvedi

While anyone can dream big, only a few brave ones go on to turn those dreams into a reality. The story of Pantaloon is one of such story of a small dream turning into big reality.

In the nineties, Pantaloon was just another garment manufacturer (still is) like so many else. But somewhere down the line, the script changed, driven by Kishore Biyani, the group made a foray into retail market in 1997 with the launch of Pantaloons retail store.

Over the years, the scale got bigger and bigger, having around 20 different retail formats in more than 200 locations and an employee base of 20,000. The company closed last fiscal with revenues of over Rs. 2000 crore.

This entire flurry has turned Chinar Deshpande’s (Chief – IT) life topsy-turvy. It isn’t as if, he is complaining. An MS in Computer Science, armed with a management degree in business from University of Louisville, he is ensuring that IT is a catalyst in the growth story.

Deshpande’s biggest challenge has been the sheer growth in terms of size and scale, as Pantaloons (now a part of Future Group) has been posting double and at times triple digit growth year on year. Take the case of its flagship store, Big Bazaar, launched as India’s first hypermarket, in the last few years, the numbers have nearly touched 30 and there is no sign of that abating.

Good for goose not for gander

In the early days, the systems at Pantaloon were running on a custom built platform, with Retail Enterprise Manager (REM) as the central application. The company was also running other standard applications like Tally, etc. But this infrastructure did not lend itself to the meteoric growth scale envisaged by the company. That’s when Deshpande and his team started evaluating the options at hand.

After much detailed analysis, Pantaloon zeroed in on SAP. It deployed all the major SAP solutions, namely, mySAP CRM, mySAP SCM, SAP NetWeaver, etc. “We are extensively using these applications and have over 3000 users on the system. In the past 15 months that we have gone live on SAP, we have already crossed 9 million purchase orders in the system and are paying our vendors through 167 banks integrated in our system,” says Deshpande.

Nearly all the stores are linked through VPN to the data center using Sify infrastructure and the last mile is wireless. Even the data center is big. “We have the HP Superdrome the highest class server, it weighs around two tons and stands eight feet tall. We required 20 laborers just to move the machine into the center,” says Deshpande with a touch of pride. The center has 80 other servers running on Unix, Windows platforms.

Going ahead, Deshpande is keenly looking into BI and data warehousing solutions. Though, the group already has a set of analytics in place, Deshpande is already thinking about the future. After all, the group wants to ramp up from 200 locations to 4000 in the next few years. Deshpande surely does not have the privilege to rest; as the problem with big is that it just keeps getting bigger.

© CyberMedia News

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