The proclaimed goal of Operational Excellence can only be achieved if tools and methods that set the course are applied in everyday work. As a sharing provider, you may well be able to draw on already proven corporate practices. Some can be integrated without turning the already existing corporate structure upside down, for others it requires at least a changed mindset of all employees. In this article, we present three basic approaches that can accompany you on the path to operational excellence.
Why the Effort?
Not every organization follows a particular management philosophy in its work processes and internal collaboration. Instead, processes are often based on individual decisions and routines. The decision for a specific approach is then accompanied by the need for rethinking and restructuring. But this effort is worthwhile - if it is pursued consistently.
Although different approaches have different emphases, they share basic goals and effects. These include:
The first step is the most difficult in most change processes. Start by appointing responsible team members who will take the lead on the restructuring and who will first have the opportunity to familiarize themselves with various corporate practices through seminars and training.
Adhere to the guiding principle that organizational development is a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn't matter how big your steps are, it only matters that you take some. Change and optimize your processes one step at a time and include all employees through regular feedback loops.
The three approaches below are examples of business philosophies and practices that can be a path to operational excellence for sharing providers.
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As the name suggests, the Continuous Improvement Process (CIP) is a constant effort to improve one's own service or work processes. In contrast to innovation, where development occurs in leaps and bounds, changes within the framework of the CIP take place in constant small steps.
A term often used synonymously is Kaizen. Kaizen is derived from Japanese and means "change for the better" (Kai = change; Zen = for the better). The origins of Kaizen lie in the Japanese automotive industry. After the end of World War II, the method helped the Toyota company become one of the largest automobile manufacturers in the world.
Kaizen is now a widespread management philosophy. All employees are encouraged to make concrete suggestions for improvements in order to continually increase the quality of the product, service or processes. Within so-called quality circles, employees at all hierarchical levels reflect on the processes in the company and uncover existing potential for improvement. The key to the success in this method is a mindset of optimization and step-by-step improvement among all those involved.
On the one hand, kaizen increases employee satisfaction because they feel actively involved in the company's development and cooperation within the team is promoted. On the other hand, the focus on the best possible end result as well as the constant optimization of internal work processes ensures better profitability and higher productivity of the company in the long term.
While some improvements lead directly to visible results, the value of others is only noticeable in the long term. Fundamental to the philosophy of continuous improvement, however, is that even every small change for the better makes an important contribution to the big picture. Especially small restructurings in internal collaboration often have no direct impact on the offering, but can be measured later, for example, in lower costs.
An important tool in the Continuous Improvement Process is the PDCA-Cycle, also known as the Deming- or Shewhart-Circle based on the names of its inventors. PDCA stands for the four following steps:
Plan: Determine goals as well as measures to achieve them
Do: Implementation of the measures
Check: Control whether the measures have led to desired goals
Act: Depending on the result, maintain planned measures or make corrections
This cycle is run through again and again. In this way, processes and products are optimized and improved in small, continuous steps.
Lean Management also originated in the Japanese automotive industry and is ultimately based on Kaizen. Starting as a method for "lean production", it is now applied as a holistic management philosophy in all areas of a company.
„Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.“
Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
What often happens is that Lean Management is understood as a pure method for cost savings. However, this does not do it justice, as essential points are overlooked. Just as important is the customer orientation, by which every (sub-)process should be aligned to the needs of the users. These are the two central aspects of lean management.
With the help of structured and efficient processes, waste, a high error rate and avoidable cost points are avoided and, at the same time, the highest possible value is created for the customer. This clearly shows how Lean Management fits into the pursuit of Operational Excellence: Customer value as the target figure to which the entire value chain is aligned; processes and workflows in the focus of action; and the shared desire for optimization and perfection as the basis.
Examples of waste are:
Overproduction (e.g., a fleet that is too large and not optimally used to capacity).
long waiting times (e.g. for cleaning/maintenance or answering a user request)
Errors (e.g. booking a vehicle that is currently not available)
Unused creativity (e.g. lack of cross-team exchange)
In order to minimize such types of waste in the future, the first step is to determine the relevant figures, data and facts. Then, with the involvement of all employees, ways and possibilities are sought to make processes more efficient. Lean Management is particularly applicable to recurring processes.
Like Operational Excellence, it describes a philosophy or corporate culture rather than a specific method. Instead, methods and tools based on Lean Management are used. These are, for example, 5S, Kanban, Just in Time, Right First Time, Poka Yoke, etc. However, it always depends on the problem which of these methods can be used.
Just as Lean Management does not always mean standardization, there is no one right tool for every business situation.
Rather, consistently aligning the company with the idea of streamlining creates a dynamic culture that continuously seeks improvement and focuses on solutions, performance and recognition.
6 Pillars of Lean Management for Sharing Provider
Lean Management in shared mobility is based on six pillars, which can be used as a starting point for efforts to optimize processes and thus avoid waste.
Team Structure and Processes: How is the team structured? How does the cooperation in the team work?
Efficient Task Design: Who is responsible for what? How are individual work processes structured?
Optimization of the Driver Journey: Which (critical) interfaces do drivers pass through from the booking decision to the conclusion of the booking?
Community Management and Marketing: How do potential drivers become aware of the service? How are they bound to the own offer?
Provision and Utilization: Which vehicle types are offered? At which locations? At what rates?
Fleet Management and Operations: What happens in the event of damage? When is the vehicle cleaned? How is it serviced?
Not least due to digitalization, today's corporate environment is subject to major changes and fluctuations. The mobility industry is also not unaffected by these. In order to be able to react more flexibly, proactively and adaptively, more and more organizations are integrating agile working methods into their corporate management.
Agility means tackling problems in a contemporary way and solving them flexibly, instead of permanently relying on existing and conservative ways of working. This is particularly important in areas that are subject to high fluctuations and constant change. Important prerequisites for agile working are, on the one hand, constant learning and further training of all employees and, on the other hand, regular feedback - from both employees and customers.
There is no one correct answer to the question of whether an organization should use agile or classic methods for project management - the influence of dynamic developments is too different for that. Agile is rather a supplement to classic process management than a replacement for it. Even as a sharing provider, take a close look at which of your business areas can benefit from agile process management and in which you can continue to run proven processes.
Important tools in agile process and project management are SCRUM, Kanban, design thinking and personas or user stories.
The development team at MOQO has been using SCRUM since the early years, and for some time now the rest of the team has also been using individual aspects of it. Since the method has proven itself for project management , we would like to briefly introduce SCRUM to you.
Originally, SCRUM comes from software development, but is now also used in project management. The method provides a framework in which a team can solve even complex tasks and requirements and deliver the best possible result.
The entire project duration is divided into smaller units, so-called sprints, which contain fixed, recurring events such as sprint planning, daily scrums, the sprint review and sprint retrospective.
Self-organization and interdisciplinarity of a team are elementary features of SCRUM.
Self-organization and interdisciplinarity of a team are elementary features of SCRUM.
Relevant terms in SCRUM
Artifacts: Artifacts refer to tools and techniques that are used to organize the work and are necessary for an efficient project process. Specifically, these are the Product Backlog, the Sprint Backlog and the Increment.
Rules: The rules define the interactions between roles, events and artifacts.
Events: Each event has specific rules regarding form, frequency and content and is used for communication between roles and project members.
Roles: The specific tasks of a team member are defined via the roles. Each role in SCRUM has its own set of tasks, rights and duties. Important roles are the SCRUM Master, who acts as moderator and contact person, and the Product Owner, who represents the user group.
Many Paths Lead to Excellence
Which of the management approaches is easiest for your organization to integrate and which leads to the desired results cannot be answered across the board. Anyway, the methods presented are not mutually exclusive, but can be combined as needed and desired. You may also need different tools in different areas.
When choosing the appropriate method(s), take into account the structural requirements of your organization, your current weaknesses, the needs of your customers, and the situation in the local mobility market. There is not only one path to Operational Excellence, but many different ones - find the one that suits you.