Coming together for better business!

It’s a known fact that when people of common interests come together, they bring synergistic results. It’s no different for starting or growing a business enterprise. The state government recognizes this and has started the Maharashtra State Industrial Cluster Development Program (MSICDP) to encourage development of enterprises in small groups or clusters.

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MSICDP runs under the authority of the Directorate of Industries which is based in Mumbai, and which comes under the Government of Maharashtra, Industry, Energy & Labour Department. The Directorate of Industries guides the District Industries Centers in every district to implement the Program.

The primary objective of the Program is to enhance the productivity and competitiveness of small and micro enterprises and to empower them by providing common infrastructure and facilities.

For this the Directorate of industries promotes development of business clusters.  A cluster denotes a group of enterprises located within an identifiable and as far as practicable contiguous area, and producing same/similar products/services. An appropriate cluster is identified by the District Industries Center by creating a report enunciating the common salient features of a group of enterprises.

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Eligibility to join the Program –

  • Minimum 10 Micro, Small working units in the same or similar sector located within an identifiable and as far as practicable, contiguous area
  • Existing clusters in Zone ‘D’, ‘D+’, ‘No Industry District’ & ‘Naxalite Affected Area’ as per PSI-2013.

Two tier activities under the MSICDP to develop clusters are –

  1. Capacity building (Soft Intervention) : This involves activities like field trips to successful enterprises, introduction to new technology, participation in exhibition etc so as to encourage interaction, exchange and camaraderie among members of the cluster. The basis of the intervention is the Diagnostic Study Report (DSR) submitted after studying the current situation in the cluster regarding productivity, technology status etc. The report pinpoints the present lacuna and forms the basis for determining the plan of action to increase productivity and competitiveness.

  1. Setting up of Common Facility Center (Hard Intervention) : This involves actual setting up of necessary infrastructure to be used by the enterprises in the cluster. Enterprises need several facilities for the smooth running of business as well as to make them more efficient and competitive. These facilities may be quality testing labs, training centers, packaging centers, R & D center, design center, logistics facility, raw material storage facility and many more.

A Detailed Project Report (DPR) must state that the CFC is appropriate and feasible for a given cluster.

The project under consideration is approved by district and state level committees which appraise the project as per guidelines. Once the CFC is set up, its operations, administration and maintenance are managed by what is called a Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV)! We will talk about it soon, in our next communication.


Man vs Machine? Not really!

Modern business has undergone a paradigm shift with the advent of automation. Charlie Chaplin’s Modern Times poignantly portrays the transition where machines started replacing human hands, to increase speed and volume of production, as also to eliminate human error. In recent years, digital technology and robotics have further automated processes. In fact terms like timers, sensors, programs and fuzzy logic have become familiar in day to day living.

The Japanese brought in some breakthrough concepts in automation as every human error in the manufacturing process could aggregate into huge losses to the enterprise. These concepts and methods were accepted and applied in industrialized countries across the world to maximize production and profits.

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Having said that, ‘people’ still remain the soul of any business and no amount of automation can substitute the ‘persona’ of a business enterprise, people are still the most important asset of any business and are only followed by machines and other infrastructure.

The magazine Fortune 500 once published, along with their list of Fortune 500 companies, a report on the ‘Best Companies to Work for’. Interestingly several companies were common to both lists, which means that the companies which were good employers performed well in figures too. Happy employees performed better, thus making the company do well.

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Whether it is a blue chip company, a medium size corporate or even a small business, the people in the organization project the nature of its working. A gentleman was asked for his cellphone at the security gate, before entering the premises of a top automobile company. When the visitor frowned at the request, the security officer politely asked him to step inside his cabin and explained to him how a cellphone can be used to disguise a weapon! The visitor saw the point and was happy to abide by the company rules. It was the security officer’s courteous demeanor and his efforts to allay the former’s doubts that made a very positive impression.

We find such courtesy and meticulousness in smaller businesses too whether it’s a restaurant or even greengrocers. The cleanliness in the restaurant kitchen, the clothes and body language of the staff, the ambience, all go on to reflect quality of the entire experience the place offers!

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But if the people in the organization are inefficient, uninterested in their jobs, have no standard work processes, no amount of infrastructure and automation can help the enterprise sustain.

So, when we are talking about Man v/s Machine, let us remember that while the machine may ensure standard quality in the product, the quality of the organization as a whole is judged by the people inside!

Author: S.R. Joshi

The author is the Director at deAsra Foundation. deAsra Foundation is a Section 25 company, a not for profit association formed to contribute to social welfare by enabling entrepreneurship, which will create employment opportunities.

This article was originally written in the Marathi Magazine- Yashaswi Udyojak (July 2016). This post is the translated abridged version of the same article.


Quality – Maintenance leads to sustenance

It is clear that consistency in quality is essential for sustainability in business. As competition becomes fierce, every enterprise has to roll up their sleeves and strive to stay in the fray. Good quality, customer focus and adaptability are the important factors that help a business for a long haul. To achieve this, it is important to keep all the resources running effectively and efficiently. Regular maintenance, mundane as it may sound, is an indispensable part of doing this.

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A consultant had to travel to Belgaum on business. He hired a car and driver and informed him about the day and time of travel. The car picked him up as scheduled. However, as they proceeded, the passenger realized that the seatbelt would not clasp and there was a lot of disturbance in the CD player. As the car traversed a mucky road in the rain, the driver had to drive very slowly because the tyres were worn down. He admitted that they had not been changed for a long time.  The customer was very dissatisfied with the whole experience. He conveyed it to the owner of the rental service but he did not take it seriously. A few months later when they casually met the latter was complaining about the business not running too well and the customer knew all too well why!

This is but one example. We all get these experiences several times. Think about the stained tablecloths in restaurants, broken faucets in hotel washrooms, broken down lifts in office complexes, out of order traffic signals and stores that have run out of products that they have advertised! Lack of regular stocking, maintenance, repair, cleaning, refilling, checking, all lead to a very disappointing product or service experience. Such lapses can be the cause of complete failure of businesses unless mended in time. There are also enterprises, who take efforts to rectify these lacunae and lay a lot of emphasis on maintenance and are able to bring back business on even keel.

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The interesting thing is that often an outwardly attractive thing ends up proving to be dysfunctional and sometimes an overtly dull and unassuming thing may actually surprise with quality deliverance.

Both inward and outward readiness matter in business. There must be congruence in ‘What Seems’ and ‘What Is’. The outward appearance is a promise that attracts customers. The actual experience is what gratifies the customer and keeps him bonded with the enterprise.

In short, quality is not a one-time thing. It is a constant and consistent process for which maintenance is the key. Maintenance of resources leads to sustenance in business.

Author: S.R. Joshi

The author is the Director at deAsra Foundation. deAsra Foundation is a Section 25 company, a not for profit association formed to contribute to social welfare by enabling entrepreneurship, which will create employment opportunities.

This article was originally written in the Marathi Magazine- Yashaswi Udyojak (August 2016). This post is the translated abridged version of the same article.