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My railway experience

People who are in their 50s can relate to this more easily. In my childhood days (40 years ago), the train journey was always an adventure. Right from getting a seat, food, or even water for an overnight journey was a nightmare. Those days out of 15 coaches, almost 12 coaches were unreserved. No one knows what time the train comes to the station (start point) and when will reach the destination. Train delays were so common.

I used to live in Chengleput. My college was in Chennai. One fine day the Nagarkoil Passenger usually comes late by 7 to 8 hours. But that day the train was on time. All the passengers got excited. The excitement did not last long. After the train arrived, the Guard said that it was yesterday’s train which had come 24 hours late.

A few of the reasons for this delay!

There were 100s of reasons as to why the train was running late. There used to be multiple Caution Orders! This means, there were track works in progress. So the trains have to run slowly at those points. Accidents were the order of the day. Whenever there is an accident the trains will be stopped for 2 to 4 hours. Over and above, many people used to pull the chains to stop the training between stations. Also sadly, in those days there were acute water shortages in many villages. So they used to stop the trains for their water needs. Also, there used to be only one track in some regions. So whenever any goods train used to pass through until the train passes the next station where it has a loop line, all the trains behind will invariably have to wait.

Metro, Highways, and High-speed trains in India

The movie “The Bullet Train” (1975) was one of my favorites. In those days Japan was at the forefront of technological evolution. Now look at the metro trains in India. To be frank, I never thought that I would see these trains and highways in my lifetime. But thank god, it is a reality now in India.

What is the difference now?

Between the Passenger trains of those days and the present Metro trains what are the differences?

  • The complete metro train transit routes are not accessible by anyone. It is either up above the ground or underground. Period.
  • Full trains are automatic
  • The signals are automatic
  • Tickets are automatic
  • Entry and exit points are clearly bifurcated
  • Ease of access
  • The frequency of the trains is high.
  • 100% power backup
  • foolproof security system

All of these put together made the on-time as a natural outcome.

In the last 40 years, nothing has changed for ERP in India!

I have been working in various manufacturing industries since 1983. In 1996 I have started Syscon and been serving the same segment with our ERP systems.

The ERP selection and implementation still happens like the Passenger trains in 1980s. The list is as follows:

  • Unready ERP systems (ERP vendors do not even know about the Indian business and statutory needs)
  • ERP vendors will leave the customers at their partner’s mercy for the critical software requirements.
  • Unready Enterprises and users
  • As a result, too many customisations of both necessary and unnecessary. This leads to Cost and Time overrun.
  • Zero project management and No project owners.
  • Top management is under the illusion that one fine day ERP will go live on its own.
  • Most of the ERP project takes about 8 to 10 months to know where they are.
  • Most of the ERP projects are not even close to their basic business goals, even after 2 or 3 years of time.

What is the solution?

Only India-Centric (regional-centric) and Vertical-centric COTS Commercial off-the-shelf Software systems can solve this issue.

  • When referring to COTS, it is not static software, but a dynamic system like an Operating system (Windows, Linux), and Databases (MSSQL, My SQL) that constantly evolves with new releases.
  • When we say region, it means the system exactly meets the business flow and statutory needs 100% of every region. This also has to evolve constantly as above.

This means the base software will have to have all the business needs and statutory needs 100% percent pre-configured in the software on the day-one. Hence this does not require

  • System study
  • Process mapping
  • Gap analysis
  • Customisation
  • Army of Functional and Technical Consultants.

3-4 weeks of implementation, training ,and go-live needs the following steps:

  • Installation (only for On-Premise and not for cloud)
  • Configuration
  • Master Data migration
  • End-use training
  • Cut-off Date
  • Opening balance migration
  • Go-live
  • Either 1 month or max 3 months of parallel run to close the legacy system.


Choosing the COTS ERP system itself will guarantee success for 80% of enterprises opting for the implementation. Because, even such industry-ready ERP systems also may fall through due to user resistance and lack of change management issues. So if the system is not a COTS one, then the success will obviously be less than 30% with all time and cost overruns, also does not see any ROI.


The selection criteria for the ERP system have to be vertical-specific to India COTS. This has to be non-negotiable. The ERP and Industry consultants, Ministry of MSME, Industry Associations, CEOs and CXOs of the industry and enterprise have to spread this awareness across each and every of their contacts. Because this is key for the growth of enterprise and the GDP of the country.

S. Vijay Venkatesh

Author S. Vijay Venkatesh

The author of this article S, Vijay Venkatesh is the MD and CEO of Syscon Solutions. He has put togethar over 4 decades of Manufacturing Industry & ERP experience. At Syscon he has handled over 150 ERP implementations for various verticals manufacturing industries.

More posts by S. Vijay Venkatesh

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