Creating an Advanced ER P Solution For India’s Pharmaceutical Industry
Headquartered in Bangalore, C-Square is the one of leading solution providers of enterprise-resource-planning (ERP) software for the pharmaceutical industry in India. The company offers software tools and applications along with related consulting, education, and support services across the country.
C-Square’s solutions primarily help pharmaceutical companies manage the logistics of their distribution and retail operations. This includes tracking the entire sales lifecycle of pharmaceutical products from the manufacturer to the distributor as well as the retailer and finally to the customer. A critical aspect of the lifecycle chain is ensuring that medicines are properly delivered with proper dosage and quantities so that customers receive the correct medicine to improve their health.
When C-Square was first established, the pharmaceutical industry in India relied on older computers and software technology so that only routine transactions were automated. This prevented the company managers from being able to visualize the performance of the entire business in real time so that process improvements could be applied. Keeping track of and analyzing historical data was also a challenge.
“In the pharmaceutical industry, it is critical to track every prescriptions’s movement,” says Sripal Bachawat, Director, C-Square Info Solutions Pvt. Ltd. “Each medicine we process has a direct impact on the quality a person’s life.” C-Square thus set-out out on a mission to become the first software company in India to develop and deploy enterprise-process software across the pharmaceutical-industry supply chain. Developing a solution that would run with zero downtime and which would be easy to support was particularly critical since most C-Square’s customers do not possess high-level IT expertise.
Finding Technology That Simple To Deploy While Off ering Robust Capabilities
C-Square searched for a partner that could offer a database platform that would be simple to deploy and support. The company also sought an application programming language that would allow it to easily develop and update its software.
“We wanted to build a pharmaceutical ERP solution where every piece of data and every person could be connected immediately,” says Bachawat. “We also wanted to allow every one of our customers’ users to be able to work from anywhere on any device at anytime. We also realized we needed to address our customers’ requirements to work with technology that is simple enough so that they don’t need to have in-depth understanding of IT.” C-Square found the combination it needed from one company: Sybase SQL Anywhere and Sybase PowerBuilder.
Sybase: The Undisputable Choice
“Sybase was the undisputable choice and has been very helpful in working with us to configure solutions for our customers,” comments Bachawat. “We identify customer needs and then Sybase helps us build a cost-effective model with back-end technology that supports our solution. We also took a close look at other database solutions that considered to be world leaders—IBM, Microsoft and Oracle—but we found all three too complicated for end-users to adopt. For application development, we considered Visual Basic but found that PowerBuilder allows us to develop and enhance applications more rapidly. Sybase clearly stands-out in both areas as the leader when it comes to offering technology that delivers robust technical capabilities but that is also simple to deploy and support.”
From a technical standpoint, C-Square has been particularly impressed with how Sybase PowerBuilder uses the object-oriented programming language model while SQL Anywhere offers an embedded relational database management system. “In the pharmaceutical industry, there are so many objects to manipulate that an objectoriented programming approach is mandatory,” says Bachawat. “The same situation also dictates the need for a relational database, which makes it much easier to organize the data across all of the products that a pharmaceutical company needs to track—sometimes as many as 75,000 products.”
With the help of Sybase PowerBuilder to write applications, and with the power of Sybase SQL Anywhere to run the applications, C-Square developed five key software solutions for pharmaceutical distributors and retailers:
- PharmAssist™ helps distributors organize all business activity including orders, delivery and collection-tracking. The solution also includes complete process-management capabilities for a distributor to adopt industry bestpractices. With Sybase SQL Anywhere as the backend database, multiple people from multiple departments can access relevant information in real time.
- PharmSoft™ helps stand alone retailers engage customers efficiently with complete information about their prescription orders. The solution also helps pharmacies process prescriptions in the least possible time using Sybase SQL Anywhere to access and store historical information for more than 65,000 products.
- Ecogreen™ helps retail Chains engage customers efficiently with complete information about their prescription orders. The solution also helps chain stores to process prescriptions in the least possible time using Sybase SQL Anywhere to access and store historical information for more than 65,000 products. It has a central warehouse module which helps higher fulfillment for stores. It also has a central module for complete control of every store and user operations.
- LiveOrder™ keeps sales personnel connected to their home office and gives them the ability to access information about inventory status in near real time. This helps with order placement and allows the sales staff to commit confidently to customers with accurate information.
- Go4+™ helps companies to manage their C&Fs from a central place. It puts most of the operations in auto mode helping companies to concentrate on remaining areas of business operations. It fairly scores well for order management, inventory management, credit management and other basic financial management.
A Revolutionary Technology For the Pharmaceutical Industry
The combination of SQL Anywhere and PowerBuilder has been instrumental in helping C-Square build its business. “PowerBuilder allows us to build new applications and improve upon existing applications quickly while SQL Anywhere allows our ERP software to be easily deployed,” states Bachawat.” SQL Anywhere also requires fewer hardware resources compared to other database solutions, which reduces the overall cost of our solution for our customers. Most importantly, SQL Anywhere allows our solutions to operate reliably at maximum speed so that customer end-users can submit and access data quickly to meet the needs of their customers. And in a business like the pharmaceutical industry, where many customers are not feeling well, servicing them quickly is paramount.”
One C-Square customer, Vardhman Pharma Distributors, has seen dramatic improvements to their business since deploying LiveOrder running on the SQL Anywhere database platform. The company is a leading pharmaceutical distributor in India with annual revenue of more than $25 Million. Vardhman is also a forerunner in implementing the latest IT technologies to enhance efficiency and productivity—the company was the first pharmaceutical distributor in India to deploy a relational database management system.
C-Square deployed LiveOrder for Vardhman to help the sales staff work more efficiently by giving them the ability to access customer and product information while in the field using mobile devices. Vardhman runs numerous promotions on different products for different time periods, so trying to remember all of the information had become practically impossible. But with LiveOrder, the information is readily available when sales people book orders and interact with customers.
Key benefits of the implementation included a 20 percent growth in business revenue, a 25 percent decrease in order-to-delivery turnaround time, and a reduction in error occurrence during order entry. Live Order also made it possible for accounts receivable information to be readily available with the click of a button, and the system automatically suggests alternate items when inventory on an item has run out.
“LiveOrder is the most revolutionizing technology implementation deployed at Vardhman during the past decade,” says Mahendra Chowhan, Chairman & Managing Director for Vardhman. “Our sales people have complete information such as product availability, pricing, promotions, accounts receivables, and product recommendations at their disposal when they are in field. The solution allows us to service customer more effectively, which leads to increased sales.”
In addition to LiveOrder, C-Square also deployed PharmAssist for Vardhman to help the company manage all of its internal business processes. Both LiveOrder and PharmAssist currently sync with each other using the FTP protocol, but C-Square will soon connect the applications with Sybase MobiLink™, a session-based synchronization technology for exchanging data among relational databases and other non-relational data sources.
Another C-Square customer, Trust Chemists, has 75 pharmacies, with each store serving an average of 200 customers per day who pick-up and refill prescriptions. “With this many transactions occurring throughout the day, it’s imperative that our database platform performs fast and reliably,” says Bachawat. “Trust Chemists and their customers don’t want to be held-up because of delays due to the technology. SQL Anywhere helps ensure our applications run reliably and fast at all times so that customers don’t have to delay taking their medications.”
The C-Square deployment at Trust Chemists took just three weeks. The company had 40 pharmacies during the initial deployment but quickly grew to the current-day total of 75. The simplicity of the SQL Anywhere database helped C-Square rapidly deploy and support the solution, which also scaled easily as Trust Chemist added new stores rapidly.
“In addition to the benefits that Sybase technology offers, we also find Sybase to be a partner-friendly company,” says Bachawat. “The sales and technical teams go out of their way to make sure their technologies work well with ours so that we can continually enhance the solutions that we offer.”
“Many of our customers have not hired high-level IT experts, but they still require robust IT software that lets them easily follow detailed business practices as customer orders are received and fulfilled Bachawat adds. “With our pharmaceutical-industry domain expertise, supported by the database and application development technology expertise of Sybase, we are able to provide our customers with effective ERP solutions that do not require high-level IT support. In this regard, C-Square and Sybase combine to help end-user customers improve their bottom line.”