How Havmor Ice Cream kept operations from melting in lockdown heat
Dhaval Mankad, Vice President - IT, Havmor Ice Cream, shares how his firm’s preparedness has helped in addressing the challenges caused by the pandemic, the company’s experience of WFH and how he sees things ahead
What was your organisation’s readiness to tackle the situation, and how did you plan?
We were proactive in our preparedness and, in a way, we had extremely smooth work-from-home (WFH) transition as it could be. This was possible due to well informed decisions taken by management team at Havmor, to which I am part of. There was a great responsibility on to ensure everything works and help business continue the operations.
With Covid-19 cases increasing in India, we planned a mock WFH activity on March 17 and it continued, with cases being registered in Ahmedabad during the period. In view of the situation, we decided to plan another three days WFH approach from March 22 to 24 and had planned to follow 50 per cent team working from office as per the Korea model. All these planning led to smooth transition to WFH amidst sudden announcement of lockdown first in Gujarat for three days and thereafter, nationwide lock down. We had no last-minute panic and rush to make things work.
During the mock drill, we used the available inventory of laptops to make people ready for WFH. Secure VPN IDs were provided to employees needing access to on-premise shared file folders.
How was the operational redundancy built?
We use public cloud for all our major business applications, which provides great relief as far as infrastructure availability concerns. Accessibility was never an challenge; with applications already on cloud, there was no challenge in monitoring infrastructure as in case of on-premise or backups. For organisations that were completely relying on office infrastructure, this was extremely difficult, especially managing backups.
We have been working with multiple public cloud partners for different accounts and all the partners did continue to manage 24/7 support. Cloud provided us an opportunity to downgrade few on-demand instances to save about 30-35 per cent cost on cloud operational cost for the months of April and May. We also had continuity of our consumer call centre operations from day one, thanks to preparedness of our BPO partner.
What were key challenges faced during the lockdown period?
Impact on organisational culture was a major challenge. Being in ice cream manufacturing, we never had WFH environment although employees with laptops continue to work for any urgent needs. But to our surprise, WFH during lock down went well and we feel people adjusted to it in a short time. This also addressed the concern of productivity and trust. We also took the opportunity to quickly set up internally developed page to capture daily work log with dashboards for functional heads.
Another challenge was on the collaboration front, although we had started using tools like Microsoft Teams or Zoom much earlier. But this set the tone and collaboration was made quite easy for each employee and now has become part of our work culture. Interestingly, meetings are becoming more productive. We have not printed a single paper for the last 60 days, that’s biggest change. All approvals are granted on email. Through this opportunity, we have also started leveraging inherent capabilities of SAP S4 HANA for documents attachment.
Other than physical production floor activities, we have no serious challenge on managing any of activities. Of course, business front challenges remain and until lockdown 3.0, we lost major season sales. We are hoping for some normalcy post lockdown 4.0.
How did you manage during this uncertain time?
We continue to seize all opportunities for business and as well our initiatives on business process digitalisation enablement. We could conceptualise more processes and put few of ongoing enablement on fast track with more discussions with partners. On the people front, we used the time for trainings for all functions such as IT, HR, sales, etc. The tranings were conducted for the existing systems, with further discussions on enhancing processes and developing new processes.
From the business front, we continued to explore newer ways to reach to consumers as we launched a portal for safe home delivery. We also reached out to consumers with focus on deliveries, and formed new tie-ups with Dunzo, among others.
What are the security concerns and how did Havmor address them?
With proliferation of cloud, digital technologies and Internet of Things (IoT), security is always a concern and it will continue to remain. We need to stay updated, continuously review all configurations, access, etc to ensure protection. And that is what we continuously do; we have adopted open VPN for cloud server access for our partners. We also continuously revisit all cloud security configurations to ensure that we do not have any gaps.
In this era of Covid, with increased WFH, there are more cyberattacks likely, and we need to continuously remain aware. We send different awareness mailers to all employees on how simple practices can keep one safe while computing.
What are your takeaways and key learnings from the situation?
Covid is once-a-lifetime episode and even robust of BCPs would not have worked for many organisations. The current situation has taught us about building resilient BCP to take into considering this kind of situation in the future. Technology investment always pays off and we realised that through our cloud experience.
It is time for organisations to move with the digital agenda and remain adapted to new ‘ways of working’ (WoW) or define a new WoW. Proactive approach makes you win half of the battle. The situation has also brought in few more learnings: trusting people and making WFH a reality which was otherwise seen as non-productive. If you trust employees with the problem statement, they will come up with innovative ideas to make sure that the problem is addressed.
We, at Havmor, continue to stand by our promise to serve happiness to our clients, partners and associates while keeping safety, health and wellbeing of our employees, partners, associates, and their families on priority.
If you have an interesting article / experience / case study to share, please get in touch with us at [email protected]