February 20, 2023
Recently, I had an opportunity to visit workshop of one of our transport customers. It was raining, and roads leading to workshop were more like series of pot-holes. The workshop itself was a small facility managing 40-50 vehicles. There were two mechanics, one supervisor, a small container as a warehouse and a 200 SQFT office running on inverter. Not exactly a place to look for SaaS opportunities.
But this workshop was an example of how Logistics SaaS is gaining foothold in a greasy, decidedly unsexy part of Bharat.
The workshop places all its orders on SaaS platform. The actual purchase for parts is done by a city office and GRN is punched in as parts reach workshop. Every vehicle is issued a Job Card and parts from inventory are issued against job card. Vehicles are marked off-road once job started and planning team- called "Traffic" team- cannot assign this vehicle to any pick-up in system till job order is closed.
This may seem an obvious way of working in any car OEM workshop. But for this customer, till recently, almost all work happened in registers. This transporter has THREE such workshops across India. But management team had no real time idea of what was status of its fleet.
As we say- things worked Ram Bharose and work carried on somehow.
The advent of SaaS and of course easy availability of Internet has put all such workshops firmly on the map. Our customer now can monitor status of each vehicle, off-road hours, mean time to repair, frequently repaired vehicles and all such KPIs on a nice dashboard. The GPS on the vehicle tells them exactly for how long the vehicles were in workshop. They can assign a pick-up task from central office, create booking document at city office and print the pick-up consignment note at workshop. Vehicle can then start its journey with minimum loss of time.
Software as a Service has ensured that even a small operation of 20-30 vehicles can use "industry accepted" processes. All the learnings from various customers get added to SaaS platform every month and add to the overall pool of knowledge.
Even before Covid, the very small scale of operation demanded remote training and support. For example, our team helped this customer upload all masters over seven days using remote sessions. The workshop gets constant assistance from a "Customer Success" team, well versed with platform- as they too learn across such sessions with customers.
I could witness all concepts of SaaS- Long Tail customers, Remote support, Best in Class processes and Cloud technology- in action on ground at this workshop.
Imagine adoption of such a systems by millions of vehicles across India. Imagine customers using insights to retire troublesome vehicles or buy parts cheaper. That is the potential of SaaS to change an industry.
I must add that the knowledge on ground EXISTS- the mechanics know their job well and supervisors have deep knowledge of vehicles. All that SaaS is doing is help them digitize the same and make information available to ALL departments spready across this large country.
This is the same sense of wow delivered by ERPs such as SAP to large companies in 1980s and 90s- when their systems and departments suddenly got connected and information flowed with ease.
SaaS is the SAP moment for the small guy. More power to him