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Rajeev Lal

“Companies, in order that they are a trusted partner for clients, must inculcate operational excellence based on strong fundamentals and processes, measurable parameters and a continuous quest for improvement. At the same time, in today’s environment of sharing of talent and resources across functions, departments and organizations, the processes for streamlining and standardizing excellence irrespective of where the entities draw from, at speed, are also an essential part of the new business landscape”.

Rich experience of heading global operations of Engineering Services and Information Technology organizations in India as well as Middle East. Well respected for his ability to build strong, sustainable relationships with key clients across the world.

In Conversation

Q 1. What is the highest pressure situation you faced and how did you handle it?
In an overseas contract due for renewal, the sales team in India as well as the local manager mistakenly worked out and submitted a wrong bid on the last due date which would have resulted in huge losses for the three year contract renewal period. I rushed to the customer and explained the mistake to all concerned in the buying team and the actual users team. With support from the actual users, we were able to persuade the buying team to allow us to re-submit the bid. The exception was made only due to the excellent relationship that we had developed at all levels in the customer organization.

Q 2. What small stuff do you always sweat?
Perfection in the written word. Making sure that my emails do not contain a single mistake leads to my reading them a number of times. I even re-reread some already sent ones to check that there was no error.

Q 3. As someone who led and grew the UTC relationship at Infotech, what advice would you give for designing, at the outset itself, delivery centres for scale?
The first one is listen to the customer. In continued interactions, one would come to know more about their objectives, pain points and plans. Get geared up to meet these, and offer some voluntary help in achieving them. Invest your resources in it. Second is to develop peer relationships at all levels. This makes the engagement smooth across the organization and support for you will develop on the customer’s side. For large engagements and scaling them, a lot of learning from the customer is required. These relationships enable your team to learn the most from the customer.

Third is to emulate and replicate the customer’s standards, processes, quality systems, tools etc. Your team should strive to become an extended arm of the customer’s team. For this you should make some investments from your side too. Fourthly, make the process of assigning work, tracking its progress, quality reviews, delivery and acceptance easy and seamless. Sixth, make sure that the quality of work is ensured and deliveries are on time.

Finally, all global organization want to continuously improve their cost efficiency and their customer service. Make sure that you are providing value for money to the customer at all times, especially in these two areas.

Q 4. What is the role of automation in enhancing operational productivity and excellence?
Automation contributes significantly to operational productivity and excellence. The most important effect is improved accuracy and reliability. The second is reduction in time and effort. The third is reduced or no need for regular human checking, and reduction in rework. In almost all cases there is a net cost reduction.

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