How it all began
The last semester of my final year of college went by hunting for a good job along with my classmates amidst the Lockdown when every call for introductions, group discussions, interviews were all taken up online. The fear of not getting a job, not meeting my parents expectations after providing me with a good education ate me up from within. During the same time, I had started a small distribution and services business selling plants online. The idea was to provide a platform to local vendors to sell and make some money even during the Covid 19 period when their shops had oshut down. I quickly realised that this gave me a nice knack of handling business and we did make some profits out of the commissions we got.
During my last semester, I had briefly heard about a company my childhood friend, Dilpreet was working at which stood out a little from the rest of the companies I was applying at via my college placements. This company was just like any other company that sold an ERP but, it was open sourced and there was a very different kind of culture as compared to the other startups I was applying at. I wanted to get more exposure and hence had decided to go for a startup company instead of a big company where the learning curve is never as steep as that of a startup. Now that I look back and think about it, this was a good decision as I’ve learnt 10x more than most of my 'MnC friends' have.
When I asked Dilpreet about the company, the first thing that came into my mind was “This is a company that's beyond my league and I could only dream about getting in here.” Although it bothered me, I kept giving interviews for different companies and got offer letters as well. I never took any of those offers because I did not find myself doing it in the long run. It never did justice to what I wanted to do in life. After a few days, my friend who I had spoken about this company asked me why I never even tried to apply there. I was honest and told him that I’d never get in. He said, “it is better to apply and get rejected than to always be in a dilemma that if I applied I’d never get in.” Long story short, I applied, gave multiple interviews (almost 5) and then ended up getting the offer letter from Frappe!
I started working right after my final exams got over. I was fresh out of college and was under the impression that things would be a cake walk hereon. I mean who are we kidding? Adulting hit me like a train right from that day itself.
Reema and Umair were the ones who were in charge of onboarding me and helping me get acquainted with the system. During the Induction call with Rushabh, he told me not to be too excited and to set practical expectations as he instantly figured that I’m a dreamer. By then he had come to know about my start up as well which was also a topic of discussion during our first conversation.
I was on board within a week of joining and assigned to Simran who would be mentoring me for the next 3 months. It was all online via video calls and Google meets that I learned about the company’s freedom, accountability in the form of Open Days, evaluations, etc. It was hard to catch up with how high performing each person at Frappe was and that kept me on my toes.
I started my work at Frappe as a Support Consultant wherein I shadow-commented on support issues and helped the Support team resolve issues. This went on for about 3 months along with training I attended along with Sandeep, Kushagra, Sarah and Ganga all who had joined in the same time period as mine. I got to e-meet my colleagues during these training sessions, some of whom have turned into my closest friends today. There was a phase in the beginning where I understood literally nothing of what I was reading on the support issues and used to ping people to help me understand things. This is where I realised that evaluations were the only way to improve my knowledge about the product and started attempting to give those and pass one topic at a time simultaneously. Honestly, it was no cake walk for me because it was my first job and I did not know what exactly was expected of me. Looking back today, I feel I could have been less relaxed and pushed my self harder to make a better first impression.
The ERPNext Consultant
After 3 months of rigorous training, one fine day Umair approached me and said “It’s time for you to take up Projects as an Implementation Consultant.” As much as I was elated to hear that I was going to be a consultant and help companies build their business, I was overwhelmed with whether I would fit properly into this role or not. Looking back today, I think I did a fairly good job. I say this as Implementations take time to be successful and I could make 4 Enterprise customers go live during my tenure and currently have 3 more projects on my court. It would take me a lot more than a blog to go into depth of each project so I would like to write about my learnings from each of them. Most of all, having a strong relationship with your Project Champion matters a lot. The thirst to learn should also be the same in the Project champion. This helps solve 70% of the problems that are possible to occur during the implementation phase. Completing tasks and milestones on the given date and time is also equally important because this is the biggest reason projects always get prolonged according to my experience. Everybody knows how flexible ERPNext is but, sticking to the vanilla product and making as few customizations and development to it as possible is also highly recommended. This makes sure there is less hassle for everybody, the Support team, the Account Manager as well as the customers themselves. They also prevent the breakage of configurations done during a Version upgrade.
My experience in ERPNext implementation was mostly inclined towards the Manufacturing domain. I chose this domain as I found that mapping processes from multiple warehouses, understanding how every machine works, the finished and the scrap materials, various BOMs were different recipes in my mind every time, all of these had processes of their own! This seemed very interesting to me and I continued implementing them for a long time. There were equal amount of challenges I faced while implementing them. Sometimes costumers become impatient and want to just get done with the implementation which is not the way it works as they take a lot of time and patience. Completing them in a jiffy is not a problem for consultants, but are you really expecting a good product experience after it is done? It would just be like a half baked cake.
There have been instances where customers have considered ERPNext Implementations as their side project that they work on after they complete their actual job at their company. This too almost fails most of the time and hence allocating a good amount of time and company resources to it is important if you really want to buy and start using a new software.
The Delivery Team
There were multiple alignments within the Delivery team over these two years, initially it was divided into small and medium sized businesses (SMB) and Enterprise Teams wherein the SMB team took care of the smaller projects and the Enterprise took care of the bigger ones. Later, when we decided to scrap SMB, all Consultants became ‘Implementation Consultants’ and help Enterprise companies Implement ERPNext for their Business models. During this phase, the team was divided into 3 Parts, Domain of expertise this time and thus came up with my team, the Dream Team that focused on Manufacturing and retail there was the Coffee machine and the Delivery Express which focused on International Projects and Retail and Distribution respectively. This team helped me gain expertise in the Product even more and I appreciate every person who helped me in the same.
Amit, a person with 21 years of experience (baggage as he calls it) came in a couple of months after we were divided into the 3 teams. He had an idea of splitting the Delivery Team Geography wise last year and we all agreed to this proposal and did the same. I was now part of the USA and Europe Projects and started handling International projects. This had me very excited as I thought that we would soon be big enough and known across the other side of the globe! Little did I know that we were going to experiment even further back then. After a few months, again, we decided to dissolve the geographical alignment of teams although the Projects still remained to finish with us. Fast forwarding to today, we have decided to pass all our Projects to our trusted Partners to Implement as Account Managers and the Consultants at Frappe would now be called as Partner Engagement Managers. When I look back and think about this whole transition, it seem nothing less than a rollercoaster ride to me! Beautifully chaotic would be the perfect term to describe my team, through all of this we stuck together, have been there for each other, and are still going strong. Today, because of this chaos, we all have turned into great consultants with so much more confidence than we first joined Frappe.
The ‘extra’ contributions
Ever since I joined, there have been two Conferences conducted by Frappe. The first one was an online conference which was the only conference to be successfully conducted online in the history of Frappe. The second one, an offline conference was the most successful conference till date and we had it this September. With the confidence boost I got from here, I went ahead and hosted the most recent India FOSS event as well. Conferences are an amazing way to interact, network and know the community which I love doing the most. You can choose what you want to do for these events and take up the things you know you are best at. This is something that I think is not present in any other company, this is what makes Frappe different. Calling it ‘freedom’ would just be a mere lack of better words for the Culture present here. I have always been an explorer and will continue to do so and make sure the culture never dies.
I have always wanted to be Independant and someone who is strong enough to deal with problems themselves. I want to make an impact, period. Moving into to my own place was one of them on a personal note and Frappe gave me the freedom to do that as well! I work from Bangalore now and commute to Mumbai whenever there is work that needs me to be present there physically. It has been very peaceful so far and I am happy that I could check this off my bucket list. I also started cooking and reading more often and this is my little effort to start writing more often as well. Rushabh says “Not being able to write well is a big handicap”. So I’m trying to write more often and improve my writing by reading more.
As I complete 2 years at my first company I feel that I can define this journery as something with lots of ups, lots of downs, lots of good days, lots of bad days, most of all, beautifully chaotic! Can’t wait to see what’s waiting for me at Frappe. Cheers!
Tinkerer at Frappe