HERD TECSOL – IT Arm of HERD Group of Companies

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Images – Courtesy Google

HERD TECSOL is a private limited IT company attached to the HERD Group of companies. It came into existence in June 2016 that makes it a very young startup, just barely beginning to get noticed. Starting in a small way, it was self-financed and operated by founders Dr Amol Deshmukh and Dr Suchika Gupta. IT Manager Jigar Joshi runs the operations with help of a small team. As yet in its early stages the company is doing it all – developing, testing and marketing its IT services brand.

As we all know pretty well a startup company is an entrepreneurial venture that typically follows an emerging, fast-growing business aiming to connect with the marketplace. Improvising a viable business model around the idea, HERD TECSOL offers IT services through the platform offered by HERD Group of Companies. Small in size it is gradually working its way around to develop and validate its existence.

On a typical day we can see IT Manager Jigar Joshi responding to numerous in-house projects spread across the city as well as catering to out-station assignments every now and then. Just last week took him to Kurha and Titamba villages of Amravati district to install biometric machines in two remote schools located there. Fixing biometric machines, CCTV cameras, or computer peripherals as and where needed, he is also catering to installation of IT communication gadgets in sync with service providers.

It is ongoing research that opens up new markets. Aside from regular in-house jobs that come, HERD TECSOL watches out to offer services in under served areas. For doing this the manager has to stay alert around the local market to grab upcoming opportunities. With increasing number of web-based IT services the potential is definitely out there. Our best route as of now has been through the in-house niche that helps us to reach out to known institutions. We are now ready to offer IT services to the open market as well.

As HERD TECSOL prepares itself for offering needed IT services and skills, the team is advised to keep honing their talents to serve and ensure that they are at par with existing trends and requirements. Whenever feasible they attend seminars and conferences sponsored by IT sector to stay up to the mark in an industry that works on current knowledge. Credibility in the IT industry is critical and HERD TECSOL strives at being successful as a reliable IT company.

The founding directors of the company launched it with the knowledge that their networks and skilled operational team will help it get on its feet in the all-pervading robust IT environment. They were not wrong in their assumption. With a planned business approach in line with the HERD Group credentials it has been an experiential process thus far.  The team uses its work experience to identify customers, services, features and IT products that make it known as a hub for information technology. Satisfied customers will be our best bet to lay the foundation for HERD TECSOL.

As of now the prognosis looks good and we have secured good business even as we look beyond the potential of just profits. The small team wearing all kinds of professional hats is working hands-on with all kinds of tasks.  They have undertaken work for reputed companies and venture on in every direction to turn it into a profitable venture. They are confident to take on increasing targets for IT delivery services.

With customers in academia and education the going certainly looks good. Although the information technology industry can be highly competitive HERD Group of companies is confident it can establish HERD TECSOL on its own credentials with a stronger business plan and by offering innovative services. It is the drive and efficiency of the team that will pave the way to future success.

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Agony & Ecstasy of Organic Farming

HERD Organic Farms (HOF) has been working on organic farming practices right from day one. Knowing full well about the hazards caused by chemical-based farming, HOF was all prepared to face the distress of diminished production, lengthy transition period and unavailability of ready market. The grim picture did not discourage the team that went on ahead to rally around teething problems of organic farming. Tiding over the hindrances in organic farming the team worked with due diligence and relentless efforts to promote organic farming production.

The team pushed forward even as the fear of less production and unavailability of a premium market loomed large. It was a sense of inner conviction that had HOF promoting its organic produce and it has been a real struggle to survive in the face of the wider non-organic market. Joining hands with other organic growers who banded themselves under a common group, the intention became to make people aware of the positive health benefits of organic produce and to cull out a consumer clientele keen on demanding organic fruits and vegetables.

Approximately 42 acres of farmland spreading around the periphery of buffer areas of the Pench forests is marked out for phased organic cultivation. As of now vegetables are being grown under half-acre covered net structures with complete organic inputs. The team headed by Mr Anil Khare has also created a small open-structured radial vegetable garden that can grow up to 15 kinds of different vegetables within its circular layout. This well-laid out round plot of land includes rows of beds of flowers, fruits and vegetables that are grown with organic fertilizers and pesticides. It is a delightful spot.

HOF organic produce is free from pesticides and insecticides and absolutely safe for healthy eating. It may not be wrong to suggest that you could pluck cucumbers and tomatoes right off the plants and eat them straight away. They are that uncontaminated and this is also because the region is cut off from the main road and still pretty pristine. The monsoons made it clear that the area can also get disconnected a brief way from the road in case of heavy showers, making it challenging to commute to and fro.

HOF has been motivating the surrounding local farmers settled in the nearby Chargaon village to adopt organic farming methods. Majority of the farmers are following suit. The team felt that spreading awareness and creating a hub for organic farming would be an appropriate measure to promote organic farming in this region. Despite having earlier used chemical inputs to increase production several farmers are now joining hands for the more arduous task of following organic farming practices.

Farm manager Anil Khare feels that there is a need of cohesive efforts from all angles for promoting organic farming. Decidedly a disturbed rain cycle has added to the farmers’ woes and therefore better water management becomes the number one priority. Next, it would be fruitful to move away from mono-cultures in which crops are farmed in single-species plots. This is why HOF is now venturing into crop rotations and mixed planting that is a better alternative for conserving soil and enhancing environmental conditions.

HERD Organic Farms is currently following its well chalked-out and unambiguous directives for sustained organic farming practices. Working on both financial and technical provisions for the planned outcomes, the team is well aware that mere regulated inputs will not be enough to garner desired output. The path to organic farming is tough and it is definitely a more demanding occupation than conventional farming, that itself is so grueling.

HOF prepares and uses bio-fertilizers and bio pesticides to enrich the soil. The team is attentive in application of composts/organic manure that is produced right on the farm. Appropriate infrastructure has been set up for organic matter to be duly processed and prepared. These operations are of course quite labour intensive and costly as well. HERD Organic Farm is committed to gain the desired results by working every step of the way to enhance organic cultivation. These initial years will be tough and despite loss in yield and lack of fluid marketing processes the team presses on, on its chosen track.

“Teacher’s Day”

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Teacher’s day in India embodies the very spirit of our traditional guru-shishya (teacher-student) bond. In present times with education fast turning into a mechanized process – computer smart boards, internet connectivity and global learning, this customary relationship gets a shot in the arm when students pay homage to their teachers on this special day.

It was on September 5, 1965 that a group of illustrious students of Late Dr S. Radhakrishnan decided to pay their respects on his birthday by organizing an event. Dr Radhakrishnan, the renowned teacher who by then had gained widespread regard, expressed his wish that instead of celebrating his birthday he would appreciate it better if the day was commemorated as ‘Teachers’ Day’.

Since then 5th September has been celebrated as Teachers’ Day and the trend continues till date. It was a rare, thoughtful gesture that stands us in good stead. The day denotes the cherished relationships students enjoy with their teachers. Traditional Indian culture as well as different religions of our country – Hinduism, Jainism, Sikhism, Buddhism – all believe in the subliminal spiritual relationship and mentoring accorded by gurus or teachers.

Be it any genre of knowledge – academic, spiritual, musical, scholarly, professional – we all need a dedicated guru or teacher to guide and instruct us. It is while such knowledge is being imparted that students develop respectful relationships for their mentors. It is the teacher’s capacities to teach, drill, educate, instruct, inculcate, enlighten, and inspire that makes them so venerable. It is teachers who eventually mold the student’s minds to make them master their chosen field of education.

This day is therefore marked out as a tribute to the unfailing contributions made by teachers in all spheres of our lives. The birth anniversary of a great teacher transforms into a day for upholding the guru-shishya tradition in all its dignity and reverence. How better can it get. We all certainly do have our own memories of the way we celebrated in school. The one common thing done by seniors was to role play teachers to demonstrate appreciation.

Dr. Sarvepalli Radhakrishnan born on September 5, 1888, came from the pilgrim town of Tirutani. It was his brilliance that took him to Tirupati and later Vellore for further education. Subsequently he attended Christian College in Madras to study philosophy. His concentration and sense of conviction brought him recognition as a noted philosopher.

An evocative teacher he was quite popular with students. He became a professor at Calcutta University and then served as Vice-Chancellor of Andhra University from 1931 to 1936. In 1939 he was appointed Vice Chancellor of Banaras Hindu University. Two years later, he took over the Sir Sayaji Rao Chair of Indian Culture and Civilization in Banaras. In 1952, Dr. Radhakrishnan was chosen to be the Vice President of the Republic of India.

September 5th therefore becomes the day to remember this great statesman whose humble submission to turn his birthday into Teacher’s Day speaks volumes of his humility and regard for teachers.  Today is an occasion for us to remember our teachers and their role in contributing to our learning and development. It is our teachers from school and college who made it possible for us to be what we are today. It is day to appreciate their patience, industry and perseverance in shaping our minds and thought processes. It is a day to value their role in our lives.

गुरु ब्रम्हा गुरु विष्णू

गुरुः देवो महेश्वरा

गुरु शाक्षात परब्रम्हा

तस्मै श्री गुरुवे नमः

Gurur Brahmaa Gurur Vishnu

Gurur Devo Maheshwarah

Guru Saakshaata Parabrahma

Tasmai Shri Guruve Namah

 

Adopting Best Practices in Leave Management

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Poised on this last day of August, it is eight months checked off the calendar in the soon-to-be-gone year 2017! With barely four months (122 days, 6 hours, 46 minutes, 17 seconds – to be exact) left before we finally bid the year adieu, suddenly a sizable chunk of time appears to have vanished. This leaves us wondering whether we could have done things better if only we had managed our time more efficiently. Going through the company deliverables and charting out near-future projections we notice a pattern of absences that make us realize that despite having an HR policy in place we still need to adopt certain best practices for leave management.

We need to get more resourceful in the art of managing absences by creating fool proof processes to handle leave absences,  for whatever reasons be they due to illness or injury. These processes will have to involve better responsiveness and proactive stance by employees. The goal of better managing sudden leave processes would be to control unexplained, unscheduled or excessive absenteeism. Any company needs to take care of neat hand-overs and smooth run-of-operations to meet the requirements of functioning of its varied units.

Despite having stated leave-of-absence rules and norms in place, there are bound to occur incidental events, occasions or hazards that may disrupt an employee’s regular work pace. These sudden lapses will decidedly affect direct costs to the company in the wake of unannounced incidental absences. Unplanned absences certainly result in indirect costs to the company in terms of lost productivity or replacement of manpower. We know full well that no sincere employee plays truant but unless some best practices are set in motion we cannot disrupt the progression of operations.

Often times we are really struck by the spate of such events and it is then that we look for ways to manage these kinds of situations created by sudden leave of absence. It is not possible to replace an employee at the spur of the moment and temp positions are still not available to us in our city. All this makes the absence management situation very much more complex, leading to heartburn, confusion and disarray if HR attempts at administering intermittent leaves with a heavy hand.

It is for this reason that management seeks to establish a process to facilitate employees with a clear cut modus operandi to ensure that the charted work does not suffer. Herein it would become essential to monitor and appraise individual employee requests and assess the reasonableness, urgency and necessity for leave absences in lieu of their commitment to return-to-work performances.

The company can feel really quite challenged if employees leave them high and dry, how-so-ever it might be able to manage processes in-house. It is for this reason that following a set of best practices in managing sudden absences will be critical. For one, employees must inform about leaves in the first hour if a situation is coming up that will require their absence. They should never wait to inform at the eleventh hour or depend on well-meaning colleagues to inform management. It is for this reason that we need to develop a written information sharing policy. Such will clarify the disability of the employee and give management time to intervene for makeshift alternate duties by other staff members.

Such processes of necessity require individual assessments as well as accommodations by the company to facilitate smooth run of operations. Further the establishment of a central leave reporting system (WhatsApp leave record group) would be ideal. Herein all absences may be reported in a single line at the very earliest. This will enable the HR managers to understand beforehand how to fill the gap. Once sudden leave gets notified the employee may begin with regular administrative procedures leaving no one in any kind of uncertainty.

What is really needed here is to develop the attitude for being responsive. This will save one from being classified with some employees who are regular leave-abusers and yes every office has them! We have all done it – combined Friday leaves until Mondays to extend weekends to do our thing!! However in case of unforeseen circumstances we should be seen as following best practices that will suit both management and us. This will make the process of reviewing and establishing clear cut norms for sudden leaves, and easier on HR to manage administering such leaves of absence. It would be good to adapt to this format of sudden leaves and HERD Group of Companies will certainly stand to benefit from continually improving on it.

Clean India – Green India

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The Clean India Mission launched by the government is a laudable mission. Although begun with zest and passion with suitably amended systems of efficient garbage disposal, we still fail to keep our environs spick and span. For one, we have loads of natural debris free-flying all over and second, lack of civic sense makes matters worse. We Indians may be the cleanest of people within our homes but when it comes to keeping public spaces clean and spruced up we fail in every sense of the word. No brand ambassador can possibly get us to take up the cudgels unless we have been prepared for the task early-on.

Cleanliness and hands-on cleaning lessons should be made mandatory for children in school so that a whole new generation imbibes the importance of spotless surroundings. Both The USA and Japan teach young children in school to work at keeping sanitized bathrooms, ready for subsequent use by fellow classmates. Kids there feel no shame or repugnance in rolling up their sleeves, donning gloves and cleaning up toilets. It is our predispositions and learned susceptibilities that stop us from doing the same. Plus we have the luxury of cheap labour available to do these jobs.

Waste management of odds and ends in India has always run systemically through recycling, making it a sustainable business. We are again fortunate for having the ubiquitous ‘raddiwallahs’ doing the rounds and helping us get rid of clutter of all kind – old newspapers, old clothes, used bottles, tins and everything in between. Along with municipalities getting into the act for garbage disposal these ‘raddiwallahs’ too assist in restoring cleanliness in our homes. However present day over consumerist societies are losing the balance and disrupting these trends with the new culture of everything-throwaway. From plastic bags to online merchandise packing we are throwing paper, cardboard and plastics out the doors for someone else to collect.

The ever increasing waste materials have become a by-product of modern living. Despite norms and legislation for regulating disposal of waste, the unsightly heaps of overflowing rubbish mounds continue to abound. Even with licensed outsourcing of tasks and civic rules in place, compliance appears to be lax. This is especially dangerous during monsoons leading to clogged drains, gutters and nullahs, as well as posing serious threats for foraging animals and rag pickers alike. The recent shocking deaths of gutter-cleaners raised a big hue and cry on following days but ended a natural death. After all today’s newspapers are tomorrow’s rubbish!

As India celebrates 70 years of Independence, it is time to take stock of the rapid urbanization in our country that is making waste management to be such a big challenge. “Over 377 million urban people live in 7,935 towns and cities and generate 62 million tonnes of municipal solid waste per annum. Only 43 million tonnes (MT) of the waste is collected, 11.9 MT is treated and 31 MT is dumped in landfill sites”. These statistics are as per Down To earth environmental magazine. Solid Waste Management is still one of the most basic and essential services devised to keep our cities clean.  Yet the truth is that municipalities simply dump garbage outside city limits. There are no checks and balances on proper disposal.

Of late some cursory measures that are still to be followed systematically have begun to ensure due segregation of waste at source. Again here the people have to make sure that they do this conscientiously.  Since we already sell ‘raddi’ to the recycling industry it should not be an unusual task to segregate waste on a daily basis. This will ensure less waste reaching landfills. It should be the responsibility of the municipalities that just as they have set up a system for collection and transportation, like wise they should have good follow up mechanisms for processing and proper disposal.

With nearly 100 cities slated to be converted into smart cities, the first smart move should be implement effective waste management strategies and challenge people to adapt lifestyles accordingly. Aside from municipalities, schools, colleges, hospitals, corporate houses, government institutions should be made the first line of hand-holders.  A good move planned is to do away with landfill sites and replace them with compost pits for organic waste. Community participation will be crucial and they will have to be made aware of other kinds of waste like e-waste, bio-medical waste and so on. The way forward would certainly be to go full scale with Clean India and Green India as we step into the 71st year of our Independence.

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Crafting an Ace Sales Team

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HERD Pharmacy sales managers and marketing team comprising of Prasanjeet Dhepe, Sachin Salunke, Suresh Poonia and Stawan Bhujbal know it is very essential to create singular, effective sales people. For this purpose they ensure scrutinizing every single reason that goes into motivating each person of the formidable over-seventy sales team. Pharmacy managers have been drilled to never allow the slightest lapse in losing a single sale. If at all such an untoward incident were to happen by a front line sales staff, then it becomes the responsibility of the manager to rescue the deal.

It is here that the manager becomes accountable to teach and train the sales team to learn how to effectively deal with various issues that may affect their proactive sales techniques. Problem resolving in an effective, convincing and timely manner are key skills that have been inculcated to make sure they do not falter when it comes to making smooth sales. Herein the managers have been made proficient to continually tutor sales staff by coaching, reviewing, mentoring and offering motivation.

The series of on-going trainings that began with Dr Amol Deshmukh’s critical workshops on importance of customer-care are now a well imprinted roadmap. The team has learned to focus on additional critical aspects with the view to increase sales, enhance customer base and create brand value for the retail chain-stores. Of late the attempt is to focus on the significant functions of sales with an eye on performance management. Herein inputs like setting goals, evaluating performances, chalking out reasons for non-performance, and appreciating success become necessary.

Top level management does not hesitate to chastise staff members when they fail to perform optimally. This is really crucial so as to keep performance levels in line with set management targets. What this also actually means is that performances need to be kept sharpened. To this end management is always ready to provide more effective coaching. The past two years have seen no dearth of training inputs that very easily can be said to be the key to present levels of achievements.

As stated earlier, it is the projected successes for the sales team that creates the pulls and pushes for their constant coaching. The monthly debriefing sessions help in assessing and evaluating training needs of the staff at all levels. Such joint debriefing sessions help in bringing everybody on the same page and eager to go forward together. It is also a time to take stock, get emotional and then plan ahead for the subsequent phase. It is also the time to make commitments and work out improvised strategies to pitch forward.

Ultimately it is the Pharmacy sales managers who form the crux of the marketing team. Their contributions in spearheading the sales team’s successes cannot be negated. They are the nucleus that gets the entire sales team motivated to be on their toes to see business remains brisk. The pre-planned schedule and manner of approach for creating a sound customer base helps in enhancing effective sales. Herein the managers’ belief in the actions of the sales staff becomes vital for positive outcomes.

Important steps taken all the time by managers include – taking responsibility, distributing responsibility, giving clear communications, evaluating performances and most important of all  setting high standards of performance. Finally it is their sense of accountability that actually determines the outcomes. Presently we are moving ahead with expansion on our mind  and aside from opening medical outlets in new locations we have to continue to make sure that existing stores keep achieving their goals. With an experienced Operations Head, Mr Rahul Agarwal having very recently brought on board, it will not be long before HERD Pharmacy raises the bar responsibly for the business at hand.

Recording Biometric Attendance

There was naturally some trepidation when six months back biometric attendance recording system was introduced at HERD Group. Introduction of any new process changes at any workplace is bound to create a flutter among employees. TecSol Private Limited, the in-house IT unit became instrumental in sharing accurate, clear information about recording of biometric attendance to assuage qualms of an initially nervous staff. Changes were definitely going to involve the stragglers. It was certainly going to create unease regarding usage of the newfangled attendance system.

For starters, Jigar Joshi, IT Manager with HERD TecSol worked on focusing on the facts, since he realized that misinformation would probably do more harm by breeding resistance. HR too apprehended that sharing usage norms could play a calming role in raising morale. Since staff was already used to signing the muster-roll it would hardly be problem to facilitate them to adapt to the biometric time clocking system. All one needed to do was touch the screen of the biometric machine to record and clock their attendance.  HERD Group started the biometric time recording system because it wanted to avoid negative fall-outs of muster recording and at the same time deploy biometric time-clock technologies cutting across several establishments in order to support organizational culture and business needs.

However we do continue with signing the muster along with jabbing the finger on the machine. This is because HR department needs to double verify employee attendance data. The biometric/fingerprint or facilitates automation of salary calculations with up to date leave, late-comings or overtime records. Having grown from a small office of handful of employees to our present multi-location stores and offices we no longer have single point attendance record keeping. Admin and HR managers need to know details of all locations to track the hours worked by the employees.

We noticed that initially employees were a bit hesitant about the biometric systems. But this was mainly due to their unfamiliarity with the machine. Soon with ease of practice their distress generally disappeared after simply being given a brief introduction as to its use. We now have biometric attendance data at all our locations. After close follow up and clear instruction of usage the biometric verification has been working for us. Initially there were some teething troubles but after demystifying it all everyone uses the machines habitually now.

It is true when it comes to biometrics at first there are certain myths like concerns regarding potential invasion of privacy (fingerprinting) and hygiene to be reckoned with. However biometric attendance data allows HR department to gain official records of hours of employee work which they then calculate to pay employees accordingly. Barring a few slackers in most cases we did not encounter resistance. Most concerns were eliminated as soon as the employees were educated on usage. Once they learned how to operate the biometric reader and in time realized how easy it was, there has been little resistance.