On 29 May, India’s leading software services exporter, Tata Consultancy Services Ltd (TCS), got a six-year, Rs.1,100 crore contract to equip India Post with modern technologies and systems. The aim is to help the department deliver not just postal services but also insurance, disburse pensions, accept deposits and collect bills, similar to postal departments in developed countries such as the US, Canada and Germany. Tanmoy Chakrabarty, vice-president and global head of the government solutions unit at TCS, has a 70-people team working on integrating the core systems of the India Post modernization programme. In an interview, Chakrabarty spoke about the status of the project and the challenges he faces. Edited excerpts:
What does the modernization project envisage, and how big is the role of TCS in it?
There are many parts to this programme. There are different vendors doing various jobs such asintegration and rural systems integration (RSI). About 35,000 post offices in the country are , hence RSI is very important from a technology standpoint. Then there are financial systems integrators that are working on the automation of all manual entries, book entries, etc. In addition, there’s a data centre project which comprises a data centre and a disaster recovery centre—the first in Mumbai and the other in Mysore.
The modernization programme also envisages a rural ICT (information and communications technology) platform to deal with the supply of hand-held terminals for services such as capturing biometrics, accepting postaland disbursing payments—essentially all mobile postal services. The mail automation programme consists of barcode readers, automatic sorters and automated mail-handling equipment in such as Kolkata, New Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai.
Our work revolves around CSI, or core systems integration. This means that we join all the dots, and completely digitize the internal workings of the postal department.
What’s the status of the project?
We began work around two months ago. We have around 70 people working on the project currently. Since the work is very important both to the DoP (Department of Posts) and to us, we will eventually have around 200 people working to make this project a.
The information technology modernization project, dubbed India Post 2012, is expected to help the postal department achieve a wider reach among the Indian population through increased customer interaction channels and new lines of business.
The scope of the project for TCS includes developing and supporting mail, finance and accounts, human resources, customer interaction management solutions for all channels including the rural ICT platform, data migration, infrastructure, service level agreement, call centre and centralized 24x7 service desk operation for the DoP. It also includes providing security solutions, an enterprise management system.
We expect to start testing the integration of core systems in the next 6-8 months. We believe the system should be ready to go live in 12-14 months.
What challenges are you facing?
The postal department is a very traditional organization with well-established manual practices.
TCS has also got the mandate for organization change management. This means we have to conduct workshops to sensitize the staff and ready them for changes that will be introduced because of modernization.
Apart from getting revenue, how does TCS stand to benefit?
The CSI project is about service delivery transformation through a technology-led, service-oriented approach to offer world-class delivery of postal services to Indian citizens. This project once again reiterates TCS’s commitment to help the government deliver citizen services more. The payment is linked to service-level performance, hence we have to deliver the goods on time. (TCS’ India revenue currently accounts for about 10% of its total revenue, which stood at $11.5 billion as on 31 March.)