Finding out what the customer wants in Assam

My first assignment for Women on Wings was in the first week of May at Tamul Plates, in Assam. They produce biodegradable disposable plates from palm leaves. Consultants Tanveen Ratti and Shashank Teotia are my companions. After half a day traveling we arrived at the Tamul Plates office.

At the office we met with the owners and went directly to the production unit where we literally walk through the production process. Remarkably, the conditions are so vastly different, but the processes are identical. Arindam, the founder and his wife Debaleena are very well aware of all processes.

Back at the office, the distribution side of the supply chain discussed. This social organization refuses to comply with the strict requirements of the large supermarket chains. Those big chains you can’t change. So one thinks, the producer has to change. Nope, because those are the characteristics of a social organization, not accepting low prices for the product.

The desire of Tamul Plates is to automate the flow of goods. There is little to no internet in this region, and so I have to be creative and work with whatever is in my head. But thanks to the relatively simple process of Tamul Plates we could go through the whole supply chain in the future ERP system. With good results, because all the unnecessary bells and whistles we automatically skipped.

Arindam was pleased with the concrete information. What does the ERP system, how does it work and what does it mean for its users. In the final hours of our visit, Arindam said he wants to start working with an ERP system this year and that he wants to implement by the end of September 2016. I thought the speed of action here was lower … Even in western countries his time frame would be quite challenging.
We will continue our conversation in about three weeks on Skype, when we both have done our homework to find a suitable ERP system for Tamul Plates.

In Assam I remarkably remain in my comfort zone. Just like in the Netherlands it’s about finding out what the customer wants, but in a very different environment and with different people. It was great to work in such a different environment. And on top knowing that you are working on creating an impact.

India is a complex and intriguing country. I met special people. It gave a lot of satisfaction to work on an assignment that will impact the local rural population.
I’m already looking forward to the next trip.

Dorien van Doorn