Saturday, November 22, 2008

CESAR leading the customer needs

Background: A great -actually awesome and lean orientated- container tracking-tracing program, funded by the EU, ready to go and ??? No customers who use it presently, because used to the phone it is so much easier, don't you think
Problem: Program will "die" and EU funds will be lost (sunk costs) if it can't be run on a profitable business case

Idea: We would like to make the program profitable as an additional service to customers. How to get them hooked? They just won't get it!

Solution (first part): There is a guy in the company who is spanning and connecting people from different departments, he has managed the set up of an IT system at a rail-road-terminal earlier, why not ask him whether he would like be the boundary-spanner between the IT-guys, the customers, the programming company? Yeah, he is on:-)) He says, he loves the idea:-)

Solution (second part): He communicates with the programmers (inside his own company and the partner companies), gets an idea what is working and what is not (actually the program rejects any non-correct process step that has not been told to it earlier - so the quick fix is firing back right away!), figuring out the biggest systemic issues, time to involve first lead-customers that have lots of traffic. Working step by step, getting direct feedback by customers

Improving the program (together with the computer specialist consultant, finding the easiest and timeless/priceless solutions), so it is showing correct data and people on the customer side (not just the specialists, such as CEOs) can use it right away

Vision: after 6 years of operation almost all customers involved (around 500 with several accounts) the project has been a full success inside the European rail-road traffic and combined transport, even revenues are flowing in and make it sustainable (improvements can be paid by that)

Future vision: The installed and working solution could be also used in other areas, such as car transportation and any other field of logistics (even on small parts!) and with use of RFID this could reach higher levels of value

What was good? free hand to get the thing running, playing to connecting-people strenghts
What was bad? goals of different departments interfered with the general goal of quality
What have I learned? Listen, reframe customer's voice, trust the process, try small
What was next action? Looking actively for opportunities where idea suits and fits, innovate

Actually there is a project going on where Siemens, SAP and some universities are involved and get government funds, they were not yet interested in the already working solution to be combined with new ones. We could really wonder why and why this is a case of waste.

Ralf Lippold has been the guy and he is still a legacy in the CESAR age 
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