HCL Technologies' Success Lies in Its Collaboration with Customers

A core strategy of the company is to 'put our skin in the game' and collaborate with customers.

Having built up a nice business over the years HCL Technologies, headquartered in Noida, Uttar Pradesh, India, has staked its claim on being a value-added company. With 1.6 billion in revenue for 2007 and 47,954employees the company is the one of the top five IT companies in India. As a provider of software IT solutions, remote infrastructure management services and BPO, the company's reach is global with 56% of the company's business coming from the U.S., 14% in Asia and 30% in Europe.

Its revenue growth of 42% from 2006-2007 might be due to its somewhat unique business model of financially flexibility. A perfect example of this is how HCL is working with Boeing.

"In 2003-2004 when the aerospace market was rebounding Boeing wanted to launch its 787 but had some financial challenges. Since we had been in the aerospace business for 10 years at that point and understood the market we approached them with a unique proposition -- to construct a business model where part of the payment to HCL gets linked to the airplane deliveries by Boeing to their customers," explains Ramesh Pillai, head of Aerospace Practice, HCL America.

Pillai points out that part of issue Boeing had to face was that Tier 1 companies were just coming out of tough economic times and would also have cash flow issues. Given the sheer size of this project, HCL decided to look at earning profits in stages rather the usual short term perspective and offered Boeing the opportunity with this innovative deal construct. "One of our core business strategies is to put our skin in the game' and to be active collaborators with our customers by throwing our lot in with theirs," says Pillai.

HCL also worked very closely with a lot of Boeing's Tier 1 suppliers as well.

This has paid off for the company since as they have been the exclusive partner on the project since 2005. Over 70% of the systems on this aircraft have HCL employees involved at some stage.

"One of the challenges our company faced was getting our engineers to adapt the policies necessary to working on the Boeing project and do it very quickly. Luckily our policy is to keep moving our engineers around and not lay off people when a project is completed. Therefore we could move people into training programs rather quickly," said Pillai.

The commitment HCL shows its employees is based in a program that the company calls Employees First. The motto is "Employees First, Customers Second", not something that is often heard in business. The company understands that its most valuable assets are its employees. The program works on trust and transparency. The program includes a Five Fold Path to Individual Enlightenment which ensures employees are given Support, Knowledge, Recognition, Empowerment, and Transformation. The program is working as their attrition rate is low.

What is also working well is HCL's manufacturing business which is collaborative in nature as well as it works with companies to help them maximize their IT systems to ensure that information is conveyed to all parts of the organization. "We partner with our customers and help them put in a framework that supports the necessary integration of data that they need to implement their continuous improvement efforts," says Sujatha Anand, Practice Director, HCL Manufacturing and Plant Automation Services.

One way HCL does that is through its Synchronized Applications (SynAps) for Manufacturers, which was recently showcased at ARC's 11th Annual Manufacturing Forum.

"One area we might look at is how the company can leverage PLM (Product Lifecycle Management) as a master data management platform," says Anand. "We have a templates and processes which defines what needs to be managed in a PLM system and how to set up collaboration between engineering and manufacturing."

As always companies need to determine what architecture is optimal. "While a company may choose SOA at an enterprise level, we can help them set a solution that will integrate all of the other systems such as MES, Asset Management, etc," says Anand.

"Companies are just now standardizing shop floor systems and engineering systems and it is a major challenge. Change management is an important aspect of these efforts as well," explains Anand.

Automation, or lack of it, can be an issue as it was with one of HCL's clients which was facing poor yield in its four U.S. plants. The high volume electronics manufacturer had inadequate automation in its plants. HCL worked out a solutions working closely with both the IT departments and the shop floor team to work out a solution that made sure that the machines became 100% automated, which involved integrating information from 250 systems that were spread across multiple plants.

Working with partners and suppliers is also an area where information must be more closely aligned. IT systems and frameworks must be in place to ensure proper channels of communications.

"We find ourselves working in greenfield projects as well where we come into the picture to set up program management across plants working with business department and also working with third party vendors," says Anand.

HCL has roots in discreet industries but is now becoming involved in process industries as well. And as pharmaceutical companies face mandates that require more information, HCL is able to provide solutions as well.

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