Interview with Mr.Sandeep Kulkarni – Center Head & Senior GM Tata Motors (GDC)
As the Head of Global Delivery Centre (GDC), Mr. Sandeep Kulkarni heads the global center delivering all the back office (business) services across 25+ companies in the Tata Motors – Jaguar Land Rover Group. This center is the backbone of all commercial activities for Tata Motors’ group companies in India, UK, US, China, Germany, Italy, Korea, Thailand, Indonesia, Spain and South Africa. Sandeep has worked in multiple management functions over the last 20 years in US and India.
Over his career, he has successfully led offshoring / outsourcing/shared services functions at BEA, VeriSign, Symantec and Yahoo! He has also been in various roles with service providers including Practice Management, Delivery Management, Client Partner and Business Development. Sandeep hails from Nagpur and did his Engineering from VNIT – Nagpur (1990), MBA from SIBM – Pune (1993) and is a Certified Outsourcing Professional from International Institute of Outsourcing Professionals (New York, USA)
Interviewed by Parth M Doshi
1.How was the Tata Motors JLR Global Delivery Center incepted?
The Tata Motors – JLR Global Delivery Center in Pimpri, Pune was incepted in 2004 primarily as a shared services center to centralize the finance function across Tata Motors. The Tata Motors JLR GDC was launched in late 2013. Today the GDC services across 12+ companies in the Tata Motor Group including Tata Motors and Tata Motors’ subsidiaries in India, South Africa, Thailand, Korea, Indonesia and Spain as well as Jaguar Land worldwide subsidiaries. The Global Delivery Center with its focus on multiple areas currently handles key finances for Tata Motors in form accounts payable, payrolls, ledgers, Purchase and Supply Chain services along with Human Resources and Sales Operations functions. Today consolidated worldwide sales figures of JLR are published by the Tata Motors – JLR Global Delivery Center from Pimpri, Pune
2.What was the major Contribution of the Tata Motors JLR Global Delivery Center and its business case since formation?
The Tata Motors JLR Global Delivery center leverages huge amount of data stored in the group companies ERPs and through intelligent analysis of this data, the delivery center is now working as a data analysis engine for the company. This enables the company to make better judgment on the group’s expenditure on business expenditures like consulting, car hire, telephone expenses and other procurement services. These data analysis initiatives have delivered cost savings of 10-20% across several areas including services, travel, telecom etc. to Tata Motors.
Tata Motors offers annual maintenance contracts at a fee to its customers that replaces certain auto parts and pays its dealers accordingly. With over 8 million Tata motors vehicles on roads the Tata Motors customer center needs to process millions of such claims each year. With limitation of manpower and resources, Tata Motors could not possibly go through every submission or track them real-time which would lead to delay in payments to the dealers as well as material losses. But now with the Global Delivery Center, not only are the claims processed faster, but Tata Motors is able to get the trends and information analysis helping the management take decisions to improve the AMC contribution as well as fill rates for spare parts.
The new automation and technology implemented by the Global Delivery Center has helped Tata Motors to adopt a completely paper less electronic payment method to process all the payments for its 60,000-plus vendors and 80,000 employees worldwide. Apart from this, the Global Delivery Center automates HR Functions such as Offer Letters, Employee Databases, and Confirmation letters among others. When work gets transitioned to the GDC, work pyramid is redefined reducing the need of highly experienced people for doing routine transactional jobs and providing value to the company back by executing these functions faster, cheaper and accurately. This also frees up the bandwidth of experience people to take additional or strategic responsibilities.
3.How many people currently work at this center & what are your future plans for this GDC?
This center currently employs 400 people with plans to grow to 1000 people over the next 12 months. Unlike typical shared services centers that focus only on delivering transactional activities at a lesser cost point – GDC, from the beginning has been focusing on value addition and contribution both to the topline and bottom-line through data analysis, process standardization, automation, and reengineering. GDC has, in fact patented some of the process automations that have led to significant efficiency and accuracy improvement.
Innovative technology implementation is the key for any successful business today. Realizing this, the Global Delivery center plans to implement process innovation at multiple levels within the organization. Right from automations to invoice scanning, work flow approvals all leading to an increased efficiency for the organization. The Global Delivery Center wants to move to other areas where cost savings could be realized and process efficiency could be improved where it expects the next level of savings. The strategic project group of the global delivery center consisting of service delivery process experts works as a consulting group partnering with Tata Motors’ Group businesses to provide them the solutions from process reengineering to calibrate things from automation.
4.How was your experience of leading projects in the US & Why did you choose to return back to India?
For most of the projects that you work in the US, significant time is spent on planning and earmarking resources in advance. This has a direct impact on the success of the project as well as improve the odds of project completion in time.
In today’s flat world, you are a global citizen. You may be based in one geography, but the playfield is global. When I was based in the US for about 14 years, significant part of the work has been to set-up and manage operations in countries outside of the US including India, China and Egypt. Now, even though I am based in India, it’s the global organization that I manage. Besides this, India is at an inflection point and we wanted to be a part of the change. Family reasons like ageing parents also played a part in deciding to move back.
5.What is it like to be working with the Tata Group & advice for the management students aspiring to work on business transformation projects?
This is the second time that I am working for the Tata Group. I worked with TCS after my MBA and working with another Tata Group company after a gap of about 16 years.
Integrity, giving back to the community and working on much larger goals than getting driven only by the quarterly results is in the DNA of the Tata group companies. I immensely enjoy the creative freedom backed by prudent and time tested processes that you experience across the group. This brings out the best in you while you work. First step of working on any business transformation project is to challenge the status quo. Students who are aspiring to work on such projects should not only challenge the status quo, but also continuously look for opportunities to simplify, automate and eliminate processes to make them more efficient.
Any business transformation project results in change. Change management planning and implementation is the most overlooked aspect in any business transformation project. Students aspiring to work on business transformation projects should always keep in mind the importance of change management.
The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the interviewee and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of Tata Motors.