Lean and Agile Kaizen Case Study in a toffee making company
Problem: A multi-national chocolate-toffee making company wanted to reduce product price in order to overcome market competition and gain market share. They had short-listed 40 products for the price drop. Can this be accomplished quickly, without major changes to production process?
Due Diligence: A due diligence audit and value stream mapping was done for the 40 products with regards 4Ms- Man (woman), Method, Material, Machine.
Solution: Lean and Agile Kaizen methodology were employed. Improvement strategies included- process excellence for procurement, vendor relationship management and operations management processes, testing, packaging and supply chain logistics processes. Alongside improvement, product differentiation features were built into the products.
How to reduce pricing, gain market share via Lean and Agile Kaizen? A case study in a toffee-making company
Part 1 of this article touched upon the need for digital marketing for telecos to expedite ROI and seven salient points to bring forth digital customer engagement.
This part of the article series discusses the sales & marketing process problems (within telecos), recommended solutions, Agile and Lean Kaizen process improvement strategy to bring telecos marketing & sales up to speed, excel …
Continuing on the SWOT analysis (from part 1), market research highlights few main problems with the sales and marketing processes within telecos namely-
There are practical challenges to new ways of working- for example- how to reconcile the agile approach with long budget or approval cycles?
‘There is nothing more difficult to take in hand, more perilous to conduct, or more uncertain in its success, than to take the lead in the introduction of a new order of things’
Change especially cultural change doesn’t happen without C-suite buy-in and active use of role models. And it doesn’t really take hold until it is executed at the smallest unit possible to daily operation.
To drive the required radical shift in the way work gets done as well as in a teleco’s technology foundation, buy-in to the program must come from the top. The power of C-level presence and engagement on platforms such as company town halls, internal social portals and even key meetings of the cross-functional teams can’t be overstated. Active championing of progress and learnings/ failures helps to motivate employees to join the journey. Once the transformation is underway C-level buy-in also extends to empowering teams. Without it, agile decision-making cannot happen.
Also, a mind-set change that profit isn’t really profit unless telecos take into account future investment demands and necessary returns to make investments sustainable and stable overtime.
I recommend 9 front solution for making telecos sales and marketing process improvement goal into reality:
1. Build right teams: Choosing the right core team members is crucial. They need to be advocates who exhibit energy, strong curiosity, pragmatism and entrepreneurial spirit within the teams. Moving some of the organization’s best resources into agile squads can be challenging, but it is key to ensuring ownership on subsequent levels, including education and participation in the design and execution stages.
2. Employee training & Anchor hires: The transformation towards next-generation customer engagement requires deep digital talent for a set of new roles such as data architects, marketing and digital advertising specialist. Existing staff probably won’t be able to perform all roles, so training and external recruitment will ne needed. External recruiting will require anchor hires i.e. hire one developer and his/her colleagues will follow.
3. Recruitment process redesign: New recruitment processes via digital networking events, dedicated recruiting days etc. to attract the right prospects. The approach of recruiting itself can also help build a brand and bring in the best people. The types of talent telecos need are attracted to forward-thinking companies, so recruiting culture matters. Having the right company representatives give the right talks at the right types of conferences at which talent can be found is one such method. Moreover, this also improves the hiring manager’s career aspirations and goals. Involving key team members in the entire hiring process is another must-do. This method can ensure that recruiters are completely on board with the goal of transformation and can effectively convey that message.
Note: Transitions on this level almost always require some external support in the beginning. But as the capabilities become cores of the business model, those roles should be converted to internal ones in a six-to-nine months time frame to ensure the new culture is embedded and a lower cost base achieved.
4. Multi-disciplinary teams: Traditional telecos tend to be highly siloed, often marketing and sales team working separately. This results in slow processes and low customer centricity, which is no longer sustainable. While it can take weeks and many back-and-forth handoffs to do something like put together a new discount campaign, working across functions in multidisciplinary teams can shorten the time to market for a new campaign to just days. This plus agile working methods is what accelerates digital customer engagement and can increase revenues by as much as 16%.
To achieve this faster, targeted and dynamic approach, multidisciplinary teams need to bring together the consumer-functions and IT groups to ensure the latter isn’t left behind. Together, they should focus on ambitious, short-term minimum viable products that follow a data-driven test and learn methodology. A Design Thinking approach, Agile project management and empowered product developers to take appropriate decisions, facilitates fast-prototyping.
Since impact can be achieved by even a small team, the proven approach is to start with select proof-of-concept use cases, followed by a rapid rollout to wider organization.
The multidisciplinary teams must have end-to-end ownership mind-set. Rather than waiting for orders or permission to act or submit long change request documents, teams should be empowered to take responsibility and get their work done.
5. Strong flexible technical foundation: To succeed in digital customer engagement, the agile processes and mind-set must be complemented by a strong technical foundation that will increase execution power and channel reach, as well as enable new cases. Failure to resource effectively and invest upfront can leave teams without the tools and technology required to unlock next-generation opportunities, such as personalization at scale.
Unlocking these use cases will require four elements to work together effectively – data, decision-making, design and distribution. Using Lean’s ’pull’ methodology will minimize the wait to build technology sophistication and digital maturity. Regardless of technology maturity, telecos can and should invest in technology enablers e.g. Google analytics, Tag Manager, Onsite AIS testing etc. to drive growth in marketing and digital sales.
6. Overcome inflexible legacy systems: Shun duplicative layers of approval and restrictions on open-source tools. Also, traditional players lack the basic technology needed to achieve encouraging results rapidly. This includes tracking basic marketing tools and flexible IT to allow for better customer flows. Getting the technology foundation implemented quickly is critical to managing the low flexibility of legacy systems many of which are partially disjointed as a result of years of industry M&A.
7. Corral data early: Customer data in telecos are usually found spread throughout the enterprise and have not been centralized in a single repository where they can be made available across channels. Developing a plan that priorities use cases and build a single source of customer insights for these use cases is critical. As the number of use cases expand, the data platform should continuously add more data signals as required. This will empower marketing activities and enable a consistent customer communication across digital and physical channels.
8. Update data protection compliance to regulations: The complexity of privacy assessments and the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) require extensive analysis that can cause delays. At an early stage, companies need to identify areas that will handle personal data and assess whether these areas are affected by the GDPR or other integrity requirements. Furthermore, they need to define ways to use available data not covered by these restrictions.
9. Make Lean Kaizen a daily habit: Lean Kaizen is a method of improvement that involves a continuous process in order to get rid of excess waste involved in a process. Kaizen is the foundation of lean methods of production and focuses largely on reducing, or completely eliminating waste, increasing productivity and attaining continuous improvement relating to an organization’s methods.
Lean Kaizen incorporates Kaizen’s ideal of continuous improvement and focuses on making and applying small changes for a significant amount of time in order to achieve desired results. This method involves all types of employees at different levels within the company and requires complete involvement by all parties in order to allow anyone to speak up regarding problems and ways of improvement.
Note that, execution of the above solutions is not sequential, they must be done concurrently.
As digital marketing tools and approaches take root in the fast-changing marketplace, telecom players can understand and approach customers in completely new ways. To capture this opportunity, telecos need to undergo a fundamental digital marketing and sales process transformation via Agile and Lean Kaizen. Telecos that don’t embrace this development soon will not only pass up an opportunity to increase market share, they risk losing a major part of existing market share.
Your success in life isn’t based on your ability to simply change. It is based on your ability to change faster than your competition, customers and business …
After years of exploring ways to do more with less, telcos finally can experience actual upside with a next-generation marketing and sales transformation.
This is definitely is an exciting time for telecos because of rising opportunities to collaborate for growth. Telecos can be best partners to any government, city or local administration. Together they can not only solve connectivity problems but reduce the cost of delivering public services for example- increased security for women travelling at night, reduced stress for commuters trying to rearrange an appointment etc.
The long-permitted concept of omnichannel, in which various distribution channels are truly integrated, is finally becoming a reality; with mobile and web gotten seamlessly connected, and automation and personalization possible with advanced analytics. These factors present a chance to take customer engagement to a new level accelerating ROI.
This article (parts 1 and 2) touches upon how to improve sales and marketing efforts of telecos via Agile and Lean Kaizen.
But, firstly, let’s take a quick look at results of telecos SWOT analysis-
One of the threats that has exposed the old way of doing telecom business is from over-the-top (OTT) players such as WhatsApp, Apple’s FaceTime and Tencent’s WeChat.
Market research data indicates that the OTT players are growing quickly and could decrease customer spending on traditional fixed and mobile communication services by up to 36%, which will put a pressure on telecos market share as well as revenues.
Improved customer engagement using a strategically structured digital marketing and sales approach, regardless of their digital maturity, will bring-in a breath of fresh oxygen for these telecos; though companies that advance their digital customer engagement will experience the biggest upside.
Moreover, this digital sales and marketing process (improvement) is likely to ring-in 10 to 40% increase in ROI in the first year of implementation. So, how to make this possible?
Here are seven salient points of digital customer engagement for telecos to generate 10- 40% ROI:
To pursue such supercharged digital marketing- based customer engagement, the incumbent telecos must start out by the organization’s top leadership’s total commitment to this goal, choosing the right change management and business process improvement methodology to succeed attaining the initiative, keep the process improvement excitement brimming by appropriate employee engagement and investment into new ways of working.
Part 2 of this article series will touch upon the sales & marketing process problems (within telecos), recommended solutions, Agile and Lean Kaizen process improvement strategy to bring telecos marketing & sales up to speed and excel!
Business Turnaround and Continuous Improvement Tips & Tricks Part 3 of 6- Agile in Nutshell for Improving Sales & Marketing of Products and Services
Originally developed to address the pitfalls of traditional project management when applied to software development projects; Agile is now an approach you can adopt for process improvement projects in almost any industry.
Instead of putting majority of efforts into one long-range plan, Agile operates on a succession of tiny ‘sprints’ with significant measuring and re-evaluation between (and during) each sprint.
Agile management methodology is an excellent tool for bringing forth Breakthrough Improvement. Agile can be used to bring forth Continuous Improvement too. Moreover, Agile can be used native or can be combined with Lean or Kaizen to augment benefits achieved with Lean, Kaizen implementation.
Which companies may use Agile?
Agile is best for technology companies, smaller teams, companies that are (or can become) comfortable with a rapid pace and companies with products that constantly change, as opposed to a relatively standard product line that is constantly reproduced.
In the next part of this article series, I shall discuss the most important and extremely popular Business Improvement methodology: LEAN
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