Friday, April 27, 2012


I  got a rare photo of one  of my relatives  from the internet by chance..I have not seen him..but have heard of him. His name is K K Ramachandran and used to teach medicine at Calicut Medical College. I used to know his father  Dr, P C Nambiar FRCS who was principal of  Assam Medical College in the 1950's  and his mother Madhavi and used to stay in a victorian style bungalow in wood street in Cox town of Bangalore. I have visited this house as a child.He had five daughters and did meet one of his daughters who practices ayurveda in Udupi .The wife of this man is the daughter of Udupi Kelu Nambiar who was an ayurvedic physician in Udupi. I have met his youngest sister Janaki many times during her old age.

I know he had a brother Madhavan who used to teach medicine at  Kasturbha Medical College and in one of the meetings with Prof   B M Hegde and Dr. Pai of Kasturbha Medical College happened to fondly remember him. Madhavan had married a swedish lady and I know for sure had two daughters.

If any of these family members ever happen to see this blog please get in touch with me.


What is ERP ? Is it a fad or does it deliver definitive results? such questions have always plagued the minds of practitioners in this area and as make this write-up I want for sure to be  communicating something long standing so that by and large some resemblance of sound understanding dawns on the reader.

Note that the key focus in an ERP which is an abbreviation of "Enterprise Resource Planning" is the word Enterprise and what it stands for. ERP helps in better Management and decision making they does but much of it depends if the implementer and the user of ERP has some understanding of the underlying concepts.

For long and for very long it appears to me that the perpetrators of business or production had a faint understanding of Management  and Management of corporations very often went into wromg hands. We have developed a word "Corporate Governance" for right reasons and have commenced using the word Governance as against Management suggests by itself the complex nature of handling the various facets of business. The building blocks of production are Land , Labour , Capital and Organization. Land and Capital are inanimate whereas Labour and Organization are animate because they constitute people. Both these kinds of people do different kinds of work....Labour looking into the present and organization trying to charter the future..and the word organization largely refers to Management in modern terms.

Let us try to decipher the the possible trajectory through which ERP evolved. The earliest computerization of business processes were possibly in the manufacturing era of the 1930.s where large mainframes were used to probably undertake pay roll processing and making and selling of mainframes were an active predisposition for people and these systems worked with punched cards and by punching cards large scale calculations were undertaken. Every month only few cosmetic changes need be made on an already existing card and repetitive pay roll calculations were undertaken. I think industrial societies as we see today emerged all of a sudden with the motor car industry and a hither to unknown phenomena of tens of thousands of people working at one place to make products come into existence and with it managerial problems of various kinds demanding ultimately the entry and synergy of information systems.

Somewhere the auto sector of Germany in the 1970's saw the need for an integrated information platform not only to solve pay roll processing but also included inventory and the like. They say there was MRP 1  and MRP 2 and it appears to me MRP 1 was Material Resource Planning  and MRP 2 was Manufacturing Resource Planning and in the latter for the first time Finance appeared as a module.

Few decades ago ERP implementations became rampant and continues to grow and many implementations were failures due to various reasons in the past. ERP is sometimes confused with words like MIS though they mean separate things. An organization has to be ready for an ERP which means its operations have become complex, works in a competitive environment and Resource mobilization, utilization and economics dictate to a large extent sustainability. When these conditions are true ERP  has increased significance. MIS on the other hand is not resource centric in its approach and is to a large extent a fast acting decision making tool very relevant when an organization is facing rapid market expansion and growth. Somewhere an MIS matures into an ERP and an ERP though by default performs the functions of an MIS  has a more extended goal the conversion of a mere organization into an enterprise.

I believe any human cluster  that eventually lands up becoming a larger corporation starts as a federation..thereafter becoming an organization and eventually if at all becoming an enterprise.This journey is beset by many different kinds of managerial problems from time to time  and various kinds of people steer the set-up through this course. A federation is a loose connection of people who are in charge of a fledgling endeavor and the success or failure of the endeavor resting on the wits and skills of these people and in a federation there is scant need for formal information exchange or transfer. A federation over time starts becoming complex owing to market dynamism and the need for a formal information structure that forms part of organizations. There is a hierarchical set up and the organization re frames its information systems occasionally finding a need to do so considering the environment in which  it operates.This environment is largely characterized by its "on-demand" nature which means that you get information only when asked for ; the information so obtained may or may not be fully useful and decisions are based on them. An organization over time matures into an enterprise and an enterprise is characterized by its "by-default" nature which means information is constantly updated as a matter of practice one needs it or not. Constantly all the points of an enterprise are enlivened with the updated information concerning the enterprise there-by making day to day decision making and any analysis there-of more accurate with lesser processing and reduced transaction times.

The word ERP is sometimes misconstrued. If a bank were to connect all its branches through some information back-bone would it tantamount to an ERP ?  the answer is no.It is still within the realms of an MIS. In the ultimate analysis it is resource economics that defines an ERP and a bank in the strict sense is not working with a differentiated set of enormous resources and its sustainability is not dependent on resource rationalization and does not by itself qualify for being called ERP. What is resource economics. Mobility of resource , avaliability of resource, transfer of resource, allocation of resource, cost of resource and cycle time of resource constitutes resource economics.

At a fundamental level what is the difference between MIS and  ERP ?

If  the acronym MIS were to be dissected into M   I    and  S........M stands for  management and implies management of an organization. An organization is a formal structure with hierarchy  and    I    the "information" is largely used for decision making ...and  S the system is the way information is collected and distributed for decision making. Contrasting this with ERP...the E stands for enterprise and the conversion of organization to an enterprise unlike an organization there is a criss-cross matrix flow of information and information updation across several related  nodes happens on a continuous basis..the R relates to resource and resources and their rationalization and the resource planning and dynamics that result as a result of this organizational transformation and strategic shift.

In what kinds of an environment is ERP ideal. Especially when an organization has got large individual and independent resources that comprise manufacturing and operations resource economics of various kinds can dictate competitive advantage and reduce cumulative costs of operations. ERP makes the organization system driven as against people driven. What is the difference between system driven and people driven organizations. In people driven organizations you rely on people for information and in system driven institution they are available on a contrivance.

As the world recognized the word ERP there was a frenzy of implementations around the world precisely in the late 1990's  and many of them were destined to doom for various reasons of Entry barriers and Exit barriers. Entry barrier is when the people using any existing system contradict the advent of an ERP  for any reason and Exit barriers arise from the question what to do with existing paraphernalia which would be rendered obsolete in the event an ERP has to make its way. These situations can differ from organization to organization but they exist. ERP implementations did fail from the actions of pressure groups who silently violated the implementation activity and jeopardized them without redemption. Today implementations are by and large reasonable and successful. When an ERP is implemented there are two distinct issues. TCO  and BRF  ..TCO meaning  " total cost of ownership"  and BRF means "benefit ramp factor" .TCO involves all the transparent and hidden costs involved in an implementation  and BRF is indicative of how quickly the various benefits of an implementation can be realized and any successful ERP implementation is characterized by a judicious balance of these forces else implementations can result in some kind of relative failure of various degrees. All ERP implementations have a component of relative failure but this component must not be unduly enormous and must be capable of correction through some process of customization.

How to successfully implement ERP ? Present day success rates of ERP are high largely because of the awareness and experience in this sector . Eventually every organization in the world will have some form or kind of ERP. Largely the percentage of ERP penetration must be less than ten percent which means there is large scope for ERP implementations around the world. To successfully implement ERP the following points must be noted;

1. Estimate the typical resource definitions of the organization. Resource definitions are a prioritized list of resources that run any organization and the elements of the list and realities vary from organization to organization.

2. Identify the total number of Major nodes and sub-node terminals required by the ERP which should cover the geographical land scape of the organization.

3. Conduct a generic process study  through some formal and non-formal pictorial analysis which traces the supply chain from beginning to end and obliterate, merge and demerge various processes where ever possible.

4. Choose a set of ERP packages from the industry that would necessarily cover the various issues listed above and deliberate with the vendors how their ERP would fit into context.

5. Identify the final vendor and preferably give him a turn key contract on acceptable terms.

6. Most importantly give formal training to all employees for at least 10 hour duration about critical aspects of ERP and their possible advantages and fine tune the implementation based on any inputs or concerns.

7. Discuss the implementation methodology with the vendor..his comfortable implementation methodology..his past success rates..and the requirements of the organization.

8. Closely supervise the implementation process and react to any exingencies.

9. Spend time thereafter to enter all critical resource data into the ERP system.

10. Run the system and customize thereafter if necessary.

Monday, April 23, 2012


Extreme right red circling    .......Col Bailey Tomb   Sangam is just ahead

Red circling just before above.......masoleum housing the tombs of  Tipu his Father and Mother

Extreme left red circling  ........breach through which the forces in the IV mysore war stormed the fort

Red circling on the right of above along the upper Cauvery component  .......Dungeons

the next red circling on this river component    .........water gate

the only circling on lower cauvery component..................ruins of the its right is ranganatha Swamy temple

the lone red circling in the middle.............daria daulat palace

I  have presented above a very old drawing of  Srirangapattana. I got it from a rare source. Recently the British government has made a list of its key enemies all time and alongside George Washington  and Napolean figures Tipu Sultan and thus my sudden fascination for this place.I have written about Srirangapattana on earlier occassions but this time over it might be special ib the backdrop of this sketch.

Some 500 years ago a place like Bangalore probably never existed in significance but this place called Srirangapattana was at the center of local affairs for this part of the world was probably ruled from there and power fell into different hands successively and aonly to be abandoned thereupon as world affairs began to change.

Cauvery river is some kind of  a life line in this part of the world..taking its birth in the district of Coorg and emptying itself near pondicherry  the river goes through an arduous course largely gushing down a downward gradient as it traverses this part of the Deccan. As it rushes down in a relatively exaggerated pace as it appears to me compared to other rivers it circumvents itself through three island like formations the first of it being at Srirangapattana island which must be 10 kilometers in breadth and some 06 kilometers in length and the other two island formations at Shi vana Samudhra  and the other at Srirangam. All these islands are sacred from centuries as stone built temples deifying Ranganatha Swamy were built ansd strikingly so I find the deity of Sri Ranganatha Swamy at Sri rangapattanam very similar in demeanor to that at the Padmanabha Swamy temple in Thiruvananthapuram ; there is some link to the possible unified source from which these statues emerged.  

Some resemblance of a fort first built with mud and later with stones has taken shape within this island and can be seen even to this day and to Indian and some European communities this island has special significance. In recent times more precisely the earlier parts of this millennium the fort and the complex was the administrative headquarters of the Vijayanagar kingdom. Sriranga was the name of one of the viceroys of Vijayanagar who was overpowered by Raja wodeyar during the early 17th century as the Vijayanagar empire began to fumble and the power usurped by Hyderali in one of the confusions that beset the wodeyar king who along with family were imprisoned within this complex. The marattas seem to have played their part in this sudden transition of power the Wodeyar king  being helpless in paying the tribute demanded by the marattas had entrusted Hyder Ali to negotiate the issue with the marattas and the balance of power slowly slipping into the hands of Hyder Ali under an overall scene of uncertainty and skirmishes.

What is Srirangapattana all about now ? It is a tourist place and any tourist entering this place would find the following write up of mine useful. If you are approaching Srirangapattana from Bangalore it is 125kms and the main road or highway cuts the city island into two. Mysore is some 15kms away. On the left of the highway you get places like the Daria Daulat  ; the mausoleum housing the graves of Hyder Ali; Tippu Sultan and his mother Fakrunissa  and Sangam. It is a drive of about six kilometers on this stretch.Near the masoleum there is also the tomb of Col. Bailey a Scotsman tortured to death during the wars. (There was another man Col. Baird who narrowly escaped death and was released as a consequence of some peace deal and he was the one who gave front-line leadership in the war of 1799). Col  Bailey it appears was imprisoned in Bangalore fort too which points to the possibility of his being taken to Srirangapattana from
 Ar cot through Bangalore of those times. Sangam is the terminal point where the two tributaries of the Cauvery that encircle Srirangapattana converge.

If you were to get into the fort complex on the right you see the Masjid built by Hyder Ali..; leading to the spot where Tippu Sultan was found dead in the fouth Mysore war on 4th may 1799..the Ranganatha Swamy temple behind which is the dungeons and later to a view of the ruins and ramparts of what remains from that era.

The present day Srirangapattana looks more like a residential lay-out as against a place of historical significance and the Government can develop this place which has historical distinction by putting up an auditorium and musuem within these precincts where the true significance of the place can be communicated to the casual traveller who must get transported through the bygone era to appreciate that he stands on a land that spells heritage on every stone.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The sinking of the TITANIC

                     It is hundred years the TITANIC sank and the tragic tale of this ocean liner on its maiden voyage sinking in the Atlantic ocean will haunt humanity for ever. On the night of the 14th of April 1912 after a struggle lasting around three hours this supposedly invincible creature created by man was helplessly devoured by the ocean a sight witnessed by some 700 odd people from the life boats into which they were hurriedly accumulated. This sight of horror must have haunted these people for the rest of their lives and what unfolded in front of them in the back drop of a moon less but starry night  would be some kind of a scene from a horror thriller and an logical end to a tragic situation put to an end all of a sudden. Titanic split into two halves and imagine the sudden noise and thunder it would have created a final roar before it went down silently into the ocean never to rise again and all its majesty and invincibility and aura silently trapped in the debris that lies at the bottom of the ocean.

                   What went wrong? was it carelessness, callousness , arrogance that was primarily the reason at the back-drop somewhere that dictated this tragedy. This ship built in Belfast was possibly the first of its kind during that time creating  60,000 horse power of energy from three steam engines with large exhaust vents that operated from even distance from each other and located at calculated points on the length of the ship to provide uniform thrust. On the 2nd of April 1912 the ship sets sail from Belfast where it was built to Southampton from where it was to sail to New York. The ship had a capacity of 3000 people and on that fateful voyage had more than 2000 people on board largely composed of Englishmen and other Europeans who were largely capitalizing on the economic boom that possibly happened in America at that time and many workers who paid 2 pounds for a berth on the Ship to reach the promised land searching for occupation and opportunity.

                 On its maiden voyage the Titanic had the best of the crew..Edward Smith a seasoned Captain not to mention the various officers who were the best in the trade. Note that with the onset of summer the various ice glaciers in Greenland under go  a cracking process and set sail southwards into the ocean melting very slowly as they pass thousands of kilometers and shrinking in size. Note that ice bergs found in the ocean are much stronger and lethal in their composition as they are formed out of solidified snow as against solidified water and they have more tensile strength than conventional ice making it a dangerous impediment in the event some obstacle were to crash into it. Even today ice bergs pose a threat to ships and ocean liners but technologies of various kinds exist today unlike the wireless-telegraph that existed in 1912.

                  The TITANIC received adequate warning as it entered the fourth day of its voyage covering 700 kilometers every day and possibly having a maximum speed of 40km/hr and cruising for most of the time at near  high speed. Note that there is a commercial angle to the episode. Note that the ship was only 2/3 full and the owners would have liked it to be full to the brim and if the ship were to cover the trans-Atlantic journey faster it could perform more number of voyages thereby contributing to economic gains. The Captain was possibly under some kind of orders to finish it as soon as he could. It was a Sunday and the waters were particularly cold owing to the icy waters drifting down  the ocean and the temperatures at various parts of the ocean as the Titanic traversed was distinctly deviant.

               There are two trans-Atlantic corridors..the shortest  northern corridor  which is almost a straight line drawn from Europe to new york but infested with a higher density of ice-bergs and a more elongated southern corridor which was a circuitous route and often undertaken when there are warnings of ice-bergs and the captain in all his wisdom put the ship few kilometers below the southern corridor and thought it befitting to cruise at full speed...a tragic error of judgement. the Captain retires to bed at around 8:30 pm leaving the fate of the ship with the underlings and there was no indication of the disaster that lay just ahead and two spotter boys on the top of the ship braving the cold and trying to identify any ice-berg that might be in the offing. Most of the passengers retire to bed and it is 10:25 pm and before long the spotters on the top of the ship see an ice berg the size of an elephant barely visible in the cold and signal to the engine room barely 30 seconds in advance. The engine room puts the engines on reverse and turns the ship leftwards but owing to the momentum arising from the speed  at which it was cruising dents 200 ft of its side the rivets giving away and water gushing into ship in a continuous flow. The bottom front of the ship is steadily getting over-loaded with water pulling the ship steadily downwards and after a three hour struggle the inevitable happens the ship splits into two and is devoured by the sea and with it go the lives of 1512 people all meeting a cold watery grave in the cold waters of the Atlantic.

This story has been said many times over by many people at many times and will continue to be told for ever. The debris or the remnants of this great ship rot on the floor of the ocean. Humanity must try to do one thing as an act of revenge to the seas that so gulped an ocean liner so fantastic to the pomp of the human eye and that simply is to reverse the process of sinking by pulling out the debris of the TITANIC from the ocean floor and setting it up as a monument in Belfast where it had its birth and sea of humanity can visit the once worsted TITANIC salvaged from the sea and would be for ever a tribute and honor to the 1512 who laid their lives for no fault of theirs on the waters of the ocean a hundred years ago and rest once and for all the anguish that goes with this incident that a ship that had once fallen to the seas has been extricated from its position of helplessness to be seen by all humanity.

Monday, April 9, 2012


Every child wants to study in a professional school and every parent wants to send his son or daughter to such a school  and  by professional education we mean  courses like Engineering , Medicine or Management.

What is the typical characteristic of a professional school....point 1  the education is long dawn meaning that it takes several years..point 2 there are several subjects....and point 3 the courses are compact meaning that there are frameworks like the semester or trimester.

Students undergoing such courses face several pit-falls and scares and challenges but once they emerge from such institutions have under their belt a formidable education and experience which could be applied in the times to come. But however any one reading this write-up for whatever reasons must be largely influenced ina positive way about the training provided at such places and how to encounter it.

To my observation professional education does not demand high IQ ..the paradox is that though entry tests may demand a high IQ   the day to day demands at such institutions demand application as against IQ.. This is the contrast ..the confusion and the irony of professional training and trapped somewhere is the possibility of students landing up with back logs or pending papers in spite of being good , capable and professional.

This problem will be further augmented  if  teachers of such schools are not subjected to periodic appraisals regarding their ability to teach which is a serious folly and also various other hygiene factors of the institute and environment.

As always let me summarize with the following six  points;

1. Students who embark on such courses should know that  +APPLICATION IS MORE IMPORTANT than intelligence in such courses+.

2.  It is a mistake if faculty of such institutes are not subjected to appraisal in some form about their ability to teach.

3.Never impose laws that prevent students from advancing through the semesters just because they have some back-logs..let the students complete the course and thereafter clear the back-logs.

4. Make attendance also as one of the major yard-sticks in promoting students or passing them in subjects.

5. Always stock libraries with mainstream as well as non-mainstream books.. Mainstream books are the prescribed ones and non-mainstream books are simplified books written by less accustomed authors but never the less simplifies subjects.

6. The system , parents and environment must help children with back-log and provide support for them to clear the pending subjects with a constructive attitude.