Samir Sachdeva | July 19, 2010
Ramco Systems, part of the $800 million Ramco group, is a Chennai-headquartered global provider of IT services, serving over 1,00,000 users operating out of nine countries. Ramco has delivered enterprise software and services since 1989 and has designed and implemented solutions for municipalities, corporations, and public sector units worldwide. It has executed several e-governance projects in India, Asia Pacific, the Middle East and Africa. Saravanan V, general manager (project & delivery: e-Gov) at Ramco Systems, spoke about the company's e-governance initiatives in an interview with Samir Sachdeva:
How do you see the journey of e-governance in India?
e-governance originated in India during the 1970s with a focus on in-house government applications in the areas of defence, economic monitoring, planning and deployment of ICT, to manage data-intensive functions. The efforts of the National Informatics Centre (NIC) to connect all district headquarters during the 1980s were a watershed. From the early 1990s, e-governance has seen the use of IT for wider sectoral applications with policy emphasis on reaching out to rural areas and taking in greater inputs from NGOs and the private sector.
While the emphasis has been primarily on automation and computerisation, India has seen significant progress in connectivity, networking, setting up systems for processing information and delivering services. At a micro level, this has ranged from IT automation in individual departments, electronic file handling, access to entitlements and public grievance systems and service delivery for high-volume transactions such as payment of bills and tax dues, to meeting poverty alleviation goals through the promotion of entrepreneurial models and provision of market information.
How has this progress in e-governance impacted the lives of people?
The thrust has varied across initiatives, with some focusing on enabling the citizen-state interface for various government services and others focusing on bettering livelihood. Through the various e-governance initiatives, quality of service delivery and quality of governance is perceived to have improved. Although, in reducing corruption the outcome is mixed, various impact assessment studies have indicated that citizens have perceived significant reduction in corruption in service delivery.
Which parameters, according to you, lead to successful e-governance?
Although policies may have lofty goals, much seems to have happened only in automation and computerisation. Almost all states and union territories have a web presence. However, few have progressed to delivering e-services. Despite these trends, it must be said that five years ago IT was the handmaiden of a few states like Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka; today most seem to have jumped on to the bandwagon. Through the lens of good governance, the touchstones to assess the various initiatives in e-governance have to essentially come from expectations of good governance. In that sense, the success of e-governance is not about technological marvels; rather, it is about whether good governance has been attained through technology. If we were to render the touchstones operational, it would encompass the dent that IT interventions have made, not only on the goals of efficiency and effectiveness, but also on the equity, transparency, accountability, participation, responsiveness, strategic vision, and the rule of law. In this regard, several e-governance projects have delivered significant value.
What are Ramco’s plans and offerings in the government domain?
The specialists in the government domain are based at Ramco’s global e-governance competency centre at Chennai. They conceptualise and collaborate with government customers and co-create and implement the solutions. These could be specific point solutions or comprehensive ERP class solutions across various government domains. Ramco has been partnering with various organisations and consortiums to participate in delivering world-class e-government initiatives, and this endeavour will be strengthened in the next two years with a focus on the emerging markets.
How big is your e-governance practice?
The e-governance practice at Ramco is handled by a 150-member team, comprising domain specialists and consultants with several decades of experience in conceptualising and implementing solutions in the government space. The practice team is currently involved in co-creating a comprehensive revenue management solution for a large customer. This team has also rolled out solutions which address complex business requirements in the areas of revenue receipting, property rates management, revenue billing for water reticulation, procurement, inventory, financial management and business analytics.
What role did Ramco play for India Post?
The Department of Posts (DoP) wished to provide a value-added IT-enabled instant money order service at selective post offices, where customers could transfer money to the receiver immediately. In this space, DoP is facing competition from banks and the courier industry. In order to sustain the leadership in courier/mail/parcel and fund transfer processes and increase its presence and customer base, DoP had to implement innovation to serve the customers. To address these business needs, the NIC chose Ramco VirtualWorks as the platform to provide the IT solution needed for the prestigious project—Instant Money Order (IMO). The pilot implementation of IMO was carried out in 30 post offices and rolled out in more than 1,000 post offices. Ramco developed and deployed the application using its solutions delivery platform Ramco VirtualWorks. The IMO solution is centrally deployed and can be accessed from various locations using a web browser. Ramco’s solution comes built-in with multi-level security.
Tell us about the project Ramco did for UN Relief and Works Agency?
UNRWA required a comprehensive ERP solution to manage their processes. Ramco had designed and implemented a comprehensive solution addressing UNRWA’s unique requirement. After implementing of Ramco’s solution, UNRWA derived significant benefits in the efficient management of budget, grants and funds, centralised control over procurement, reduction in sourcing cycle times and costs, compliances with procurement processes and guidelines, transparency in their processes, and complete control over the inventory.
Ramco has assisted SingHealth of Singapore. What was the solution delivered to SingHealth?
SingHealth is the eastern cluster of public healthcare institutions in Singapore. Its members include three hospitals, five national specialty centres and a network of primary healthcare clinics. Each year, SingHealth institutions attend to over three million patients. Their A&E departments handle about 3,50,000 cases and they perform over 1,70,000 surgeries annually through a team of 12,000 professionals. SingHealth wished to implement a comprehensive IT solution covering HRIS, information unification and more. Ramco’s implementation involved rolling out the solution in eight locations, each with diverse specialisations, covering 4,000 employees involving in the areas of personnel administration, payroll, benefits and claims, time management, employee development, employee self service, and interface with high-end ERP backbone. ?
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