| 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
i) Assessment of available data and capabilities of the OMC’s - Initially 1 month in Jan-Feb 2012 and additional 2 months for the revamp in May-Jun 2014
ii) Analysis of services required to address the challenges - 4 months
iii) Development of Prototype design - 2 months
iv) Launch of the portal called as “Transparency portal” by the Minister of Petroleum & Natural Gas in June 2012.
v) Introduction of the capping of subsidized cylinders in Sep 2012. The transparency portal facilitated the introduction of the capping i.e. limit on number of subsidized cylinders per household.
vi) Portal provided a medium to host duplicate connection lists.
vii) Portal facilitated conception and implementation of DBTL (Direct Benefit Transfer of LPG) in June 2013.
viii) Policy changes like portability – 6 months (in parallel)
ix) Study of services desired by the consumers – 2 months after decision to revamp
x) Adaptation of design by OMCs with plan of integration with data base- 3 months
xi) Enhancement of services in portal (- 3 months) and relaunched as MyLPG.in in September 2014.
Work began on the initiative in early 2012, with brainstorming sessions conducted with the OMC teams and customers to understand the data available at the back end systems of the OMCs and to decide on design and deliverables. This was followed by series of workshops, meetings and reviews conducted amongst the OMCs and with the Ministry. After several iterations, a standardized solution was finalized with common functionality across the three OMCs. The first version of the portal named simply as ‘Transparency portal” was launched publically in June 2012. This portal provided the visibility to the general public on the extent of subsidy availed by consumers and on the visibility of various aspects of the LPG supply chain, focusing on transparency.
After the launch, there was a felt need for customer centric features and options such as opting out of subsidy. Based on the feedback received from the users and various stake holders it was felt that the portal to be really useful to the consumers it should be a single platform to avail of various LPG related services in addition to the visibility it provided. For ease of use it needed to have a uniform look and feel across the three OMCs. The OMCs continued to evolve to include a number of services and facilities for LPG consumers. During Mid 2013 a revamped and enhanced Transparency Portal, christened as MyLPG.in was conceived.
The service bouquet was carefully designed based on the data available in the OMC databases. These covered:
• Services that were provided from the portal
o Booking of cylinder
o Details of cylinder delivery
o Details of Subsidy Availed
o Request a second cylinder
o Request for preferred time for delivery
o Seek LPG related services
o Facility to Surrender connection
o Facility to opt out of subsidy
o Redress Grievance
• Transparency and visibility provided from the portal
o High consumption consumers
o Suspect list of duplicate connection holders
o FIFO in booking and delivery
o Status of pending deliveries
• Measures to bring in Competition amongst distributors
o Rating of the distributor by consumer
o Visibility of distributor rating (star rating)
o Portability of connection across distributors and OMCs
o Visibility of Target Time of delivery (TDT)
| 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The major stake holders who contributed to the initiative and their contributions to the initiative are as given below:
a) Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas: (Dr. Neeraj Mittal Joint Secretary (Marketing) (Email email@example.com, Mobile : +91 99588 11444) and Mr. Alok Tripathi Director (LPG) (Email: firstname.lastname@example.org, Mobile +91 97186 33139) Steering the development of the web portal.
Providing the leadership to the entire project
Preparation of strategy and fixing timelines.
Regular monitoring and feedback through workshops & meetings.
Signing off the various modules/stages of the project.
b) Oil Marketing Companies (OMCs): (IS and Marketing teams of IOCL, BPCL and HPCL led by Mr.A.N.Jha (email@example.com) & Mr.Projjal Chakravarty (Retired from service in Sep 14) from IOCL , Mr.George Paul (firstname.lastname@example.org & K.B.Narayanan (email@example.com) of BPCL and Mr. Y.K.Gawali (firstname.lastname@example.org and Mr.S.T Sathiavageeswaran (email@example.com) from HPCL)
Design and Development of the respective portals and their standardization
Design and Development of the landing page of the portal and integration of their respective portals onto it for easy accessibility
Making changes/modifications as per the feedback
Standardization of the services offered in the portal and Creating similar look and feel across the three OMCs
c) Citizens/Consumers (Focus groups in cities)
Suggesting name for the web portal
Providing feedback on the features and design of the web portal
Providing innovate ideas for enhancement of the web portal
d) Distributors (around 12000 cross the country)
Inputs on the rating scale for their service levels brackets
Incorporating the upstream supply chain linkage to the bottling plants
Facilitated consumer awareness
e) State Governments:
Features such as ensuring FIFO delivery which cause issues at local level were incorporated.
| 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
The development of the web portal was carried out by engaging a web designer agency for the designing the look & feel. The backend integration was carried out by internal dedicated resources and some external resources were hired for a period of 4 months.
Technical description of database / backbone
As the portal was hosted by the three OMCs each of the OMCs have implemented using their own hardware and software backbone. While the portal has been hosted on different architectures it was ensured that the look and feel and functionality of the individual OMCs was same and standardized. As the transparency portal of the OMC was built on top of their existing application for the LPG business a lot of resources already available were leveraged for the implementation of this portal. This has enabled the OMCs to implement the portal solution with little incremental investments on additional hardware. The details of the infrastructure resources deployed at the three OMCs are as follows:
IOC: Hosted on a MySQL database as the back end on Linux OS with a capacity for 2000 concurrent connections and a bandwidth of 30 MBPS
HPC: Hosted on a Microsoft SQL server data base as back end and Microsoft IIS as the web servers. The servers are set up on a highly redundant infrastructure in a clustered environment with a capacity for serving 3000 concurrent connections. The total bandwidth of 180 MBPS is shared by the portal with other applications.
BPC: Hosted on a Microsoft SQL server database on Windows server OS running on a VMware virtual environment with a highly redundant infrastructure with a replicated server with replicated data base at the Primary data centre and additional server with replicated database at the Disaster Recovery Site.
The overall expenditure for the design and dedicated resource is around Rs.2.5 lakhs. Additionally dedicated manpower resources of 40 man-months were deployed by OMCs to carry out the project work as part of their normal assignments. In addition, a number of senior personnel from the OMCs and the Ministry spent a significant amount of time in finalizing the scope and structure of the portal and in monitoring the overall project from conceptualization to implementation.
The OMC’s funded the initiative from their internal resources. The one-time cost of developing the portal towards the hardware and software licenses and the cost of manpower deployed for the development and testing was around Rs.20 million. The recurring cost towards hardware and software maintenance, house-keeping and administration of the infrastructure and applications and regular software enhancements would involve an amount of Rs. 5 million per annum.
The OMCs also upgraded the web connectivity required for providing satisfactory response to the users, with adequate security protection.
| 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
The major contributors are as under:
Saving in Subsidy - The publication of transaction data on-line was the transformative initiative to stop diversion. Consumers were able to immediately point out if their quota of cylinder shown as delivered was actually received by them or not thereby curbing leakages. It enabled dissemination of information on suspect duplicate consumers. Many customers surrendered their connections and those who did not complete the KYC were blocked. At present over 9.7 million LPG connections have been blocked leading to a saving of Rs.33.41 billion ($0.5 billion) for government exchequer. The estimated savings in subsidy on account of the introduction of DBTL in its 1st two phases is of the order of 15-20%.
Improvement Service Delivery Levels - The portal has caused to shift the balance of power in favor of the consumers from the distributor. A consumer rates his distributor on five perceived parameters which has sensitized the distributor on consumer perception. Based on the transaction data, the distributor service is now automatically measured (% cylinders delivered in a certain time frame) and all distributors are rated from 5 star (best service level) to 1 star. The Star rating distribution has improved substantially towards higher Star rating since its launch. This can be seen as the proportion of 5 and 4 star distributors has increased from 43 % since the launch of concept in December 2012 to 67.2% in Quarter 2 of 2014 signifying improvement in delivery times.
Empowerment of consumers (Portability) - The rating of distributors allows comparison of the service levels between distributors. The subsequent launch of portability provided the much needed competition that was the key to improvement in service delivery. As on date, over 5000 requests have been received. Although the number of portability requests appears to be small, the feedback through informal channels has been that distributors are able to retain consumers by becoming very responsive to the complaints and thus very few requests are coming forward.
Encouraging Subsidy Salience - many consumers are wealthy and hence do not need subsidy. This portal allows consumers to give up subsidy without hassle. The voluntary giving up of subsidy is gathering momentum and would help in achieving the goal of targeting subsidy for the needy. The number of consumers who have given up subsidy is already nearing 10000 within two months of its launch.
| 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
OMCs and Ministry of Petroleum & Natural Gas set up teams to monitor the progress of the project at the level of the Ministry as well as the in each of the OMCs. Apex team defined the milestones and the parameters to evaluate the progress of work, and the execution was done by OMC teams. Regular meetings were held at both the levels to discuss the progress and to finalize common approaches to address the requirements of the solution.
The review at Ministry was led by the Joint Secretary (Marketing) with the OMCs developers; project Coordinators from each of the OMCs representing the Business and the IT function. The teams also discussed the pros and cons of alternate approaches to address different process and technical challenges and arrived at a common approach to be implemented by all the three OMCs. This enabled the citizen/social audit organization to have the same experience across the portals of all the three OMCs.
Further, to share information amongst the various teams working on the project, a Project Management Information System (PMIS) that was developed to monitor various projects running under the Ministry was also used to monitor the implementation of this project. Access to this PMIS system was extended to the key stakeholders and software development teams engaged in this project to regularly update their progress on development of ‘MyLPG.in’.
A monitoring Dashboard and various MIS reports were made available to the officers to review the project progress. Regular alerts and emails were generated by the system for any deviation in times lines defined against each milestone or activity.
Any critical issue that was faced by the teams that had the potential to affect the time lines was immediately escalated to higher levels so that it could be addressed and resolved timely.
Regular feedback on the portal has been taken and corrective actions / additional features introduced in the portal based on these feedbacks.
The project was completed in time with no time/cost overruns.
| 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Institutionalization of data update in real-time and devising same functional interface across the OMCs was a challenge as each had a different business process/database/IT platform.
Government Process Re-engineering was an important part of the new service offerings in the background business processes. For example, portability across OMCs required a new business process to be put in place to allow migration of customer along with past entitlements. Multiple connection detection was even more challenging and required a background mechanism for detection. The sheer scale and size of the database and legacy nature of the records was also a challenge as real time queries had to be incorporated.
For the deduplication exercise, a combined database of several terabytes required massive computation power to be able to do address and name matching, with all its variations. The strategy followed comprised of introduction of Know Your Consumer (KYC) to ensure data standardization/completeness of existing database of the OMCs of suspect consumers before they were regularized. With the publishing of the suspect list, those who had hitherto gone unnoticed were now under social pressure to surrender their additional illegal connection(s). Many customers surrendered their connections and those who did not and did not complete the KYC were blocked.
Introduction of KYC was a new business process and although it was one time operation, it was a bit onerous and resisted by vested interests. This was tackled by the government by issuing policy guidelines for the same. This led to cleaning up of the OMC customer databases.
Change management was another challenge as there was significant resistance from the distributors partly due to vested interests and partly due to effort involved in learning due to change in the software interface. Education/training and hand holding in the new platform and practices helped in bringing stakeholders on board.