INTERVIEW OF THE MONTH
INTERVIEW WITH MR. JOYDEB CHATTERJEE,
Senior Vice President and CFO – Packaging Films
Laminated and Coated Fabrics Business at SRF Limited
What are some of the transformation trends in the finance function with large enterprises? Could you share some of the transformation initiatives that you have taken at SRF?
We have a captive shared service centre, and it is playing a significant role considering the size of the organization. The volume of routine transactions is increasing leaps and bounds and not only that there are a lot of automation initiatives that have been taken in the shared service function for example uploading of documents, approvals etc, everything is now a workflow. Even during the pandemic, we did not have much of a problem in getting things organized through the shared service because of the workflows in place. We also have our automated budgeting software; we use a Hyperion tool which is an oracle tool we use for not only budgeting but also for consolidation of financials across the group globally. This has also led to improving manpower productivity. Additionally, we have a very robust financial dashboard. Earlier we used to prepare reports in excel which we had to circulate over emails previously. Now everything is automated, the reports are automated, so anyone can access the dashboard, see the reports and the numbers. The other significant thing is the banking transactions have been automated which has happened during the lockdown period. We have automated the process of uploading AI/A2 documents which is the foreign payments through the banking portal and the workflow of approvals is also present. So, there are lot of automation initiatives that we at SRF have taken including automation of our capex approval, our sanction notes for capex etc. We are also doing a lot in the area of robotics and packaging; we do not use manpower for our packing system in our plants.
What is the role of a CFO in the context of these transformations?
The role of the CFO is to visualize these trends and implement them in the organization for improvement and productivity as the business grows. I think the main role of a CFO is more strategic because as I said earlier that have to visualize what is happening in the industry and take proactive steps, so their organization is the first to market in everything they do. We follow the principle of ‘easy to do business’ in our packaging system. We make life so easy for our customers that they do not have to think of anyone else than SRF. For example, we have a system wherein we track our dispatches online in terms of which customers’ products are being dispatched on which day so that we can inform the customer beforehand and they are well informed.
We also have a system of online quality control while in production so that we do not delay in delivering good quality products to our customers. If there is an error in the composition of the recipes, for example, we accordingly make changes and ensure that the right product is finally produced and delivered to the customer on time. I think CFO is more or less a facilitator of IT enablement, compliance, and growth.
How is a technology contributing to accelerating the pace of such transformations? Do you also see this resulting in better execution?
The more important aspect in any successful execution is the quality of people you work with. They should not be resistant to change. If they are resistant to change it is very difficult to implement such transformations. The implementations are smooth when the employees are also aligned, and they understand this improvement in productivity will help them engage in more value-added tasks. Our resources in SRF are completely welcoming of change and as a result, the automation initiatives have been outstanding.
Do you believe there will be a significant skill gap in the future as a result of such a transformation?
The skill gap for example will be in the manufacturing function where enterprises will have to make sure that they have the right people in the right place to ensure that they are easy to do business with the customers. With the pace at which the businesses are growing, there will be a need for the right talent. In certain roles, outstanding employees make a lot of difference and they ensure that the boat is sailing smoothly. For the run of the mill functions, we can have average people but for key positions there is a need for the right talent. In SRF, say before launching a software, we do a lot of training in terms of UAT and CRP so that the resources are very much up to pace by the time implementation happens and it makes life easy for all the resources.