Churchill Consulting

Creating a tailored performance improvement approach using design thinking: a national logistics case study

Creating a tailored performance improvement approach using design thinking: a national logistics case study

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  • Category:Case Study
  • Offering:change management
  • Industries:Project & Change Management, Transport

Churchill was engaged by a large global logistics firm with multi-year, Tier 1 service contracts.

The goal was to foster a culture of continuous improvement across its 40+ national sites by developing a management operating system (a way of working), based on data insights, to improve efficiency.

We needed to build an operating model with ‘end-users’ at the core, that met the needs of operations and commercial managers, and incorporated the relationship and required tools and systems.

The Challenge

The initial interviews with site teams (our end-users) identified two main areas of concern:

  • A shortage of timely and user-friendly operations information/ data to analyse trends and find improvement opportunities, beyond the data what was generated for billing or quality reporting for clients.
  • Poor visibility of contract assumptions, targets and requirements that could lead to scope creep or revenue leakage.

We noted the key contributing factors for efficiency losses were arising from:

  • The client’s highly diverse customers and industries requiring expertly tailored service delivery approaches to each contract
  • Disaggregated ways of working across the business not fully utilising the intellectual and tangible assets of the broader business.

Taking a Design Thinking approach to operational improvement

To meet the user-led design brief, Churchill deployed a 14-week design thinking process to activate >45 operational and commercial representatives, across all levels of the business, a variety of operations, and from each state in Australia.

A blended Churchill and client team led a design thinking process working through a series of stages:

Empathise > Define > Ideate > Prototype > Test

Empathise and Define: This included 1:1 interviews and workshops, to diagnose the issues and challenges, and determine the requirements of the end solution. 

Ideate: Here we refined user insights to design the required operating system and key metrics. We used the ideate stage to determine the key metrics that needed in the new technology interface for site teams to use in their management operating system.

Prototype: We ran a “Build & Pilot Phase” and deployed support teams into two operational sites.

Testing: Testing focused first on building the right system and tools to provide data into the two test-site teams, before building out the people and process interface

The approach was complemented with robust business readiness and change management. We had to minimise disruptions to day-to-day operations and engage site leaders so they could champion the pilot with their teams.

Senior leadership buy-in on the project was strong from the beginning. We leveraged that, to connect the Sponsors into the project with site visits and clear, consistent communications to bolster operators engaging in the design process.

The Solution

To address the challenges and contributing factors to efficiency losses, we built the Management Operating System to:

  • Plan the contracted works and establish targets
  • Monitor actual performance against those targets and assumptions, and
  • Review via discussions to identify actions and close them out and
  • Improve operational and contract performance over time.

The solution was threefold –

  • A suite of operations dashboards embedded into a custom action tracking system.
  • A refreshed daily and weekly operations cadence to identify and pursue improvement opportunities with appropriate escalation paths.
  • All the tools, templates and user guides to support its implementation.

To ensure a scalable model, we set a standard approach for physical metrics that focused on resource utilisation (work inputs/ costs) and resource productivity (work outputs/ revenue) that could be used across the business.

The system translates contracts into standardised and meaningful “physical” metrics, targets and language, creating consistency and transparency across the business and allowing the operations teams to pursue improvements and optimise performance on a on a daily and weekly basis.

The Outcome

Contract requirements and assumptions are now translated into this language and embedded throughout the operating system.

Teams at three of the sites are up and running using the system, and are in the process of baselining their performance and identifying strategic actions to pursue and achieve their targets using the new metrics and systems.

The management operating system is now being scaled across the rest of the national operations, with Churchill’s assistance. By end-2022, its expected we will have deployed the new system to all 40+ sites.

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