Time-to-market brought forward in complex development project
- Smart cash machines developed more quickly for market readiness
- Diebold Nixdorf is constantly developing new systems in order to offer its customers state-of-the-art, self-service technology with advanced user interfaces and functions.
- Time-to-market is particularly important in the highly competitive banking environment. With the help of external consultants, the time period for an extensive development project could be shortened by almost 4 months.
ATMs are durable and, thanks to 24-hour availability, also very convenient. Due to the variety of functions and innovative user interfaces, they have also been very successful so far. In this digital age, that could soon change. Many banks are currently downsizing their branch network; service desks are increasingly being replaced by self-service at the machines – therefore their range of functions needs to be expanded. “Customers are used to mobile applications and modern user interfaces, they expect touchpad and swipe technologies, i.e. fast interactive transactions also at the cash machine. Providers are going to have to adjust” says Uwe Krause, Head of Strategy and Portfolio Management of the Systems Business Unit at Diebold Nixdorf. The company, which emerged in 2016 from the merger of the U.S.-based Diebold Group with the German Wincor Nixdorf, is one of the leading providers of IT solutions for retail banks and companies. Also keeping in step with the expansion of the software business is the constant enhancement of the self-service systems. For this purpose, development resources specializing in banking from both Germany and the USA were pooled together in a new project. It was a considerable technical challenge, because even the basic function – cash dispensing – requires a sophisticated hardware and software system coupled with complicated mechatronics. Add to this the integration of the latest technologies and security functions, e.g. the latest defense against cyber-attacks. These systems, which are increasingly being installed in public spaces, not only have to be very secure, but also easily accessible to people with disabilities.
Since every month counts in the highly competitive world of banking, existing development processes should be significantly reduced and thus the time-to-market shortened. After some attempts to streamline the processes, it became clear that this task could not be accomplished with internal resources alone, in addition to normal day-to-day business. The comprehensive plan of the numerous sub-projects was too complex, linking so many parallel activities such as purchasing, procurement, certification and quality management, conversion of production lines, marketing and sales, and service training.
Therefore, it was decided to work together with an external consulting company, CYLAD Consulting GmbH. “With their focus on technology-intensive industries and their methods of reducing the complexity of large-scale projects, the consultancy corresponded exactly with our requirement profile,” says Jochen Linck, Head of Global Hardware Development at Diebold Nixdorf.
Finding the shortest way
To address the target of saving time in key processes, the consultants first developed the critical path – the sequence of activities that cannot run in parallel and whose shortening has an impact on the final deadline. Optimizing the critical path was a complex undertaking in such a large project. Within two months, the consultants had engaged in intensive discussions with the departments and scrutinized every single interdependency. “In processes that have been going on for years, the objective approach of a competent external partner is very helpful,” says Uwe Krause. Dr. Jochen Linck adds, “It really was a lot of work to map out all the interdependencies; we could not have done that internally because of time constraints.”
The second step was to shorten the critical path. “Quality always has to be ensured. It is not about squeezing more and more out of the organization – on the contrary, more time is needed for important tasks, and therefore they are started earlier,” explains Dr. Thomas Trautmann, Managing Partner at CYLAD Consulting. The content and technical outcomes of a process are dealt with separately. For example new product types must always be tested for safety and certified. Several weeks may elapse between the notification of the test results and the creation of the physical certificates. Previously, receipt of the documents was awaited and only after that did the project commence. The new schedule: Of course, no product goes on sale unless the necessary documents are available, however after passing the safety tests, the technical tests in the customer environment can commence.
Over 20 ideas for a quicker market launch
“As consultants, we can provide an objective perspective plus problem-solving skills from other industries and projects, though experience has shown that a lot of good ideas are generated in the companies themselves. We then assist with the structured preparation, assessment, and planning,” says Trautmann. In the case of Diebold Nixdorf, the team of consultants organized a focused decision-making week. Project participants from all relevant departments and locations (colleagues from the USA had come to Germany) initially discussed the individual ideas in mixed teams and made their selections. The heads of manufacturing, development, quality control, purchasing, and product management came together daily and the staff presented their ideas and assessments to the jury in a short, five-minute pitch. After that it was directly decided which ideas should be pursued. As a result, a good 20 individual measures were recommended for implementation. In total, the combined measures shortened the project duration by about 4 months.
Some of the participants blocked their calendars for the whole period of the workshop a bit in disbelief. However, the unanimous opinion at the end was: “We have never gotten so much done before in one week.”
The implementation makes a difference
It is understood that inspiring workshops and valuable ideas permeate into daily business practice. The work of CYLAD Consulting therefore did not end at this point, but went into the next phase: implementation. The new measures had to be arranged in detail and integrated into the overall planning. For each measure, a responsible person, an owner, was nominated. The consultants then discussed the individual steps for implementation with each of these owners. Since many of the new measures influenced each other, the adaptation of the schedule was an iterative process.
Diebold Nixdorf appreciates this thorough, structured approach. “By putting all the procedures into a roadmap, CYLAD’s consultants helped us better manage and analyze the planning and processes,” said Krause. Dr. Jochen Linck also sees the cooperation with CYLAD Consulting as a success: “The consultants have developed a deep understanding of our processes and generated crucial ideas from them. Internally, they were consistently held in high regard as consultants and reliable partners, especially because of their great commitment to the project’s success.”
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