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August - 2006 - issue > My Toughest Challenge
Our 12 Quarter Plan
Ganesh Natrajan
Tuesday, August 1, 2006
The most interesting challenge I have faced in my career is when I took over as CEO of Zensar Technologies Ltd in March 2001.

The Background
Zensar had come through the growth years of the 90s as a small player in IT services with a reputation for good work in onsite staffing but very little credentials in successful offshore business.

The Problem
The period 2000-01 had proved to be one of the most tumultuous for the Indian Software industry. Zensar with its recent successes in this area had hired over three hundred professionals in expectation of business and in
the first quarter of 2001 was faced with over four hundred of its staff unutilized “on the bench.” Compounding the visible symptoms was the fact that the abrupt departure of the previous CEO with half the management team had left an atmosphere of little motivation and impending doom in the organization!

The short term fixes
Extreme disorders often call for surgery and the first steps that had to be taken were focused on washing the red ink out of the organization’s financial status - this was accomplished by eliminating over a hundred mediocre performers and terminating low-margin or loss-making contracts.

Quick steps to encourage people to contribute, like the formation of vision communities and the integration of the onsite teams with their offshore counterparts lent credibility to the efforts of the new leadership and the slow resurgence of morale and confidence led to the first glimmer of a turnaround by the end of 2001.

The strategic solutions
A twelve quarter plan aimed at increasing revenues and profits every year was put into place which had four key tenets:

Focus on offshore work and client satisfaction through process quality and knowledge management

Develop core value propositions clearly articulated and supported by world class delivery.

Build a world class team empowered by strong vision and values and committed to a 5 F Framework - Fast, Focused, Flexible, Friendly and Fun.

Invest in Innovation to build longer term differentiators for the organization by developing technology architectures that delivered more for less; using tools rather than people.

The pursuit of these goals saw the doubling of revenues and quadrupling of profits.

Blazing new trails
Not content to rest on its laurels, the management team of Zensar with the support of the Board of Directors embarked on a major Investment led Growth strategy. In January 2005 we aimed at positioning the company as an Innovation leader in the new world of Global Software.

This has led to the creation of a comprehensive solutions portfolio with traditional “Exploitation” services like Applications Portfolio Management and ERP services supported by newly minted “Exploration” services like Business Intelligence, Independent Testing, Embedded Systems, Automated Migrations and IT-BPO Integration for Retail Supply Chain and Logistics applications. The 90 percent growth in profits for the financial year 2005-06 and the addition of over fifty marquee client names has been the best endorsement of Zensar’s new strategy.

From a company on the edge of a precipice to one of the innovation leaders in its industry segment, Zensar has come a long way thanks to its strong management team and a highly motivated work force - with its new focus on acquisitions and expansion in new geographies this is a company set to blaze new trails in the Indian IT firmament.
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