How to use Technology to solve business problems – Practus
Practus’ Founders hail from middle-income families where ‘value’ consciousness is embedded in everything that one does. This attribute played a significant role in developing Practus’ core value proposition: “Real, measurable, tangible ROI on consulting spends for its clients”.
Deepak’s tryst with entrepreneurship began in 2007 before it became ‘cool’. A qualified Chartered Accountant, Deepak got his basics sorted with AF Ferguson (which became a part of Deloitte) and Ernst & Young advising large corporations.
Deepak realized that there were glaring gaps in business consulting practices where the risk was largely on the customer and consulting firms could get away under the garb of merely providing advice without any ‘skin in the game’, and this prompted him and his Co-founder, SVenkat to start an enterprise that would change how consulting firms operated. In fact, before they could arrive at the ‘Why’, Deepak and SVenkat had dabbled with another business for a few years where they assisted several 100 global mid-sized companies who wanted to set up business operations in India whether in the form of conducting a feasibility study, drawing up business plans, recruiting their leadership/key personnel, conducting location feasibility on setting up manufacturing operations, leading joint venture/ technical collaborations conversations between the overseas client and a potential India investor and so on.
S Venkat was the one to identify this gap during his two stints as CFO of two large US MNCs in India. The opportunity was compelling enough for Deepak to join him. Deepak is also an active volunteer at the Isha Foundation and has been a part of a few of their social initiatives, a die-hard cricket buff, practices yoga regularly, a voracious reader, and loves spending time with people.
Over the last 25 years, S Venkat has been at the core of business and financial transformations for over 500 clients globally. A qualified Chartered Accountant, Cost & Management Accountant, and practicing Risk Manager, he started his career with PWC where he worked for 8 years.
As a 28-year-old professional, Venkat was appointed as the CFO of Aon’s Indian subsidiary. He has actively partnered with PE/VC funds, start-ups, family-managed businesses, and enterprise clients and has provided entities with practical and implementable solutions to improve business performance and fast-track their transformation journeys.
Between mentoring the team and pursuing his passion for solving business challenges, Venkat is also an avid traveler, Indian philosophy enthusiast and finds joy in filter coffee, Swami Chinmayananda’s teachings, and his family. In his spare time, he also engages in quizzing, playing chess and gardening.
With what mission or purpose the Practus was launched? What is the USP of Practus?
At Practus, our purpose is to disrupt the ‘consulting’ space & challenge the status quo. For the longest period of time, consultants have serviced clients using a Time and Material (T&M) or a fixed fee model without linkage to delivering tangible business outcomes. Practus is committed to change that paradigm by committing and delivering to an ROI which is expressed as a multiple of its fee.
Technology is used as an enabler to solve business problems along with a highly skilled team. In the last decade, Practus (earlier known as MyCFO) has successfully assisted close to 1,000 companies (ranging from funded startups to Fortune 500 companies) across 9 countries in solving business problems across finance, supply chain, operations, manufacturing, sales, and marketing functions to significantly improve their revenues, cash flows, profits, and efficiencies. Practus serves global clients from its offices in India, New York and Dubai.
Practus’ unique differentiator is the commitment to deliver a tangible ROI to its customers and has delivered close to $200 million in savings in the last 10 years alone through (a) Office of CFO (b) Performance Improvement and (c) Business Transformation
Enabling Technology as a key variant at Practus?
Practus has become synonymous in solving complex business problems for clients using technology as an enabler. Technology today is a commodity and available widely, the differentiator lies in blending this with the skills (people) and our experience of having implemented this successfully across 1000 clients in the last decade or so.
Practus has worked with over 150 products in the last decade to solve specific client problems. ROI delivered ranged from 3x to 30x of the Transformation spends. Some of the areas where Practus has worked on has been Business Intelligence where tools such as Power BI (Microsoft), Qlik View and Tableau have been implemented or ERP’s such as SAP, Microsoft, Netsuite amongst others or in the areas of AI where we have had the opportunity to implement Robotic Process Automation (RPA) for several companies using UI Path or Automation Anywhere or in solving specific client problems across Procure to Pay (SAP Ariba, Expenzing), Financial statement consolidation (Blackline), Budgeting, Planning, consolidation (Quarkcube, GIDE) amongst others.
Understanding the CFO’s role and challenges on a macro level
The role of a CFO has moved from accounting to accountability. The expectation of a CFO has been a business partner now for a long time. A McKinsey study found on average, five functions other than finance now report to the CFO ranging from risk and regulatory compliance to IT and cybersecurity. In a survey of CFOs conducted by Ernst and Young, almost 70% said they were spending more time on providing analysis and insight to support leaders and decision makers to take better quality decisions.
Let us look at what is causing the disruption? Factors such as external economic uncertainty, increased regulation, availability of data, fast pace of digitization and attracting and retaining top finance talent are top concerns for CFOs. CFOs today recognize that disruption often comes together with opportunity. CFO’s who can position their businesses position and prepare themselves effectively for these changes will gain a competitive advantage. There is a clear expectation from the CFO to drive and deliver ROI on projects digital or otherwise.
The soft side of the CFO leadership comes out strongly, and CFOs are becoming more like generalist C-suite leaders. It is becoming very clear that that’s what the business leaders expect them to do. CFOs who can tell a compelling story and have data points along the way are clearly the ones who are able to differentiate themselves from the rest.
What it also means is the finance functions must focus and put in place KPIs [key performance indicators] and metrics that talk about the long-term value creation. It is one of the imperatives for the CFO of the future: to be the value architect for the long term. It’s one of the very important aspects of how CFOs will be measured in the future.
Role of CFOs towards company and stakeholders
There is a clear expectation from the CFO to drive and deliver ROI on projects digital or otherwise. The soft side of the CFO leadership comes out strongly, and CFOs are becoming more like generalist C-suite leaders.
It is becoming very clear that that’s what the business leaders expect them to do. CFOs who can tell a compelling story and have data points along the way are clearly the ones who are able to differentiate themselves from the rest. What it also means is the finance functions must focus and put in place KPIs [key performance indicators] and metrics that talk about the long-term value creation. It is one of the imperatives for the CFO: to be the value architect for the long term.
CFO’s responsibility does not merely end with managing his team or ensuring that she delivers what the CFO expects her to deliver. The expectation is to collaborate and drive performance with stakeholders be it the functional leaders, customers, vendors, the board amongst others
Emphasizing on the sector wise approach of CFO’s if required and Practus’s expertise
As mentioned earlier, Practus works with organizations ranging from funded start-ups to Fortune 500 companies spanning across several industries. While Practus is industry agnostic, our focus sectors are Healthcare, Pharma, Biotech, Technology/IT, FMCG/Consumer products, Auto & Logistics, Financial Services, Manufacturing, Professional services, Private Equity, Education, Media & Gaming. Practus is focused on sectors that are not cyclical, heavy on capex spends or those where dependence on the Government is significant.
Unlocking value for clients
Practus unlocks value for its clients through its ‘proprietary’ ROI framework which focusses on 4 critical parameters of a client’s business (a) Optimising revenues (b) Improving profitability (c) Improving Working Capital/ Cashflows and (d) enhancing valuations. Any problem statement that Practus proposes to resolve is tied back to generating impact on atleast one out of the 4 parameters stated above.
The areas, quantum of ROI and the timelines when this will be realized by the clients are communicated up front in most cases before Practus begins implementation at that client thereby providing an assurance to the client that there is skin in the game and it is all about partnership and not merely what is agreed as part of ‘scope’.
What is the growth path for Practus ?
We believe that the market size and opportunity that is in front of us is massive. The need for businesses to reinvent, grow organically or inorganically, keep getting better and efficient, solve existential problems will never go out of fashion. Practus’ pace and quality of growth will be determined by how we continue to look for ways to deliver ‘tangible, clearly measurable’ outcomes to clients across all services and countries that we operate in today/ will operate in the future.
More importantly, the need to hire, train, develop high quality talent and provide them an environment to express themselves without fear or pressure will possibly be the single biggest focus area. Our growth in the last 10 years has been at a CAGR of close to 40%, this has improved even further in the last 2 years since the pandemic and if we continue to grow at the current pace, we should be at 6 times of where we are currently in the next 5 years.
Few words about Techiexpert
Since Technology is something that we are an advocate for, we are constantly reading and studying various blogs about tech to further cement our technical prowess and what better platform then TechiExpert as I believe Techiexpert is a nice avenue and an emerging one-stop-shop for technology and Gadget enthusiasts to stay in touch with relevant news and perspective on today’s technology topics and developments.