As research and numerous case studies show, businesses continuously providing the highest-quality professional services are constantly improving their operational processes. Although Lean Management’s conceptual origins are in the manufacturing sector, it works well in a wide variety of industries. Maciej Tyburczy, head of the Lean & Process Management Department in the AsstrA-Associated Traffic AG transportation and logistics corporate group, discusses how Lean Management helps meet Customer expectations in the transportation and logistics industry.
— What are the benefits of Lean Management for a logistics services provider and its Clients?
Improving business processes with Lean Management usually refers to a company’s internal activities. Specifically, it concerns the activities that employees perform to complete tasks from Customers. In other words, the processes a company executes to deliver an order the Customer has placed.
Is this approach the only way to increase Customer satisfaction and better meet expectations? Well, the answer is no. It is not everything. There is second part of the equation.
— How does it work?
Looking more broadly at a company’s processes and cooperation with the Client, it can be seen that a company executing a Customer’s order and the Customer himself are connected by the same process. Parts of it are carried out on the Client's side, such as order placement and document delivery. The vendor executes the remaining parts such as order processing, project preparation, and delivering the product or service.
When developing processes, we usually focus on the parts of the process that the vendor executes. Therefore, we strive to ensure that the company’s internal activities are optimal and that the Customer is satisfied with how the product or service works.
— So we focus mainly on internal processes?
Internal activities are not everything. We should not forget about the parts of a process on the side of a Client, who can also face challenges related to process development.
— Can we help the Customer?
Yes we can. Of course, everything ultimately depends on the Customer. The approach that we propose and actively practice at AsstrA involves a global analysis of processes both on our side and the Client's. The result is a win-win with both sides benefiting.
Recently, along with one of the AsstrA group’s key Clients, we have analyzed a key process, mapped it, held numerous meetings to thoroughly understand his needs, and suggested improvements on both sides. As a result, we managed to improve communication, speed up document circulation and, most importantly, increase Customer satisfaction.
— Are all Clients willing to participate in such "experiments"?
Everyone strives to improve the efficiency of their work, both companies and Customers. However, effective process improvement is possible thanks to the close cooperation of both parties and their willingness to discuss their process challenges. With this Client, we had both and were able to achieve comprehensive process improvement. Without openness, motivation, and curiosity, these "experiments" are not possible. Close cooperation with the Client is the key to success.