New ways of working – inspiration for a simple and good cooperation

Digitalisation and industry 4.0 | innovation | People at thyssenkrupp | Increasing digitalization has already changed our everyday work enormously. We have access to information anytime and anywhere. However, digitization on its own can only partly improve our everyday working life. There are further enormous possibilities to make processes more efficient, collaboration easier and development processes more creative. In February 2020, thyssenkrupp employees, therefore, launched an interactive fair on "New Ways Of Working".

For the first time, the NWoW fair offered space to interactively present alternative working models- and -forms and to exchange new, and sometimes unconventional, ideas of cooperation. At around 50 stands, teams from various businesses and functions of the Group presented how they are already successfully working innovatively today: a colorful selection of methods, tools or even forms of collaboration. The new solutions need not be expensive or complicated. Sometimes they are very close at hand if you just recognize them.

Numerous employees visited the fair and shared their ideas and visions with their colleagues.

“The fair was a complete success,” reports Andreas Stapelmann, Project Manager Innovation & Technology with satisfaction. “We had a continuous rush of visitors and received lots of positive feedback from our employees.” About 800 to 900 visitors had informed themselves about the projects of their colleagues over the course of the day.

The NWoW trade fair was a complete success.

Here are three “New Ways of Working”-projects that were presented:

1. Save paper, time and money – through eSigning

Despite numerous digitization initiatives, there are still many processes at thyssenkrupp that are stuck in paper-based environments – for an international group this means a high administrative burden and high costs. To get away from the thousands of manual contract signatures that are required in a Group, a new project has therefore been launched – eSigning.

Initially, the aim was to find providers who offer electronic signatures in an uncomplicated and secure manner. “In the end, we decided on the provider DocuSign,” explains Iris Wörtler, Project Lead Contracts and eSinging at thyssenkrupp. The tool allows fast, paperless and traceable processing of documents throughout the entire group. “Time is money,” says Iris Wörtler confidently. “With eSigning we can simply create an account and get started.

After a document has been sent, the responsible persons can track where it is at the moment – whether at the supplier or in the group – and to what extent it has already been processed

“Since the launch of the program, we have found that 66% of all documents are signed within an hour,” says Iris Wörtler, summarizing the results of the new program. For thyssenkrupp this means 25 times higher process speed. To ensure that those affected also know when a signature or release is required, the program is linked to an e-mail workflow. Signatures can be made anywhere in the world – whether from a tablet, smartphone or laptop. No more waiting for a signed contract to be returned via postal mail!

After each sent “envelope” you get a balance of how much paper, print, mail, and travel was saved. This is a step in the right direction to implement sustainability in the daily work routine – and contracts are just the beginning.

thyssenkrupp now uses DucoSign worldwide for contracts, data processing, agreements, purchase orders, and tax returns. A system that reduces 33% of costs per signed document and saves resources: efficient and ecologically valuable.

2. A prototype within four weeks – no problem for our experts

Another idea that was presented at the NWoW fair is the development of prototypes in the so-called “Digital Lab”. Here the experts digitalize innovative ideas and implement them as prototype even before they are realized. Within four weeks, for example, apps or a website can be tested. The Digital Lab approach is about analyzing new ideas on a small scale and looking at what is needed to fulfill the MVP approach: minimum viable product. An MVP is a product that requires only a few features in order to take customer wishes into account early in the development process.

Depending on the project, a team consists of three to four developers, two colleagues from the respective department and the end-user. Together, the colleagues work on the implementation in a concentrated manner for one to four weeks.

Tim-Julian Rupp from the Digital Lab in Duisburg explains: “We make digitalization tangible – we translate the theoretical level into practical applications. After two to three weeks, the project teams have a prototype in hand and can then decide whether the project is going in the right direction.

One example from the Digital Lab that has already been implemented is the “Hochbahn App”. Within three weeks the app was created as a prototype. Today the employees responsible for blast furnaces eight and nine in Duisburg can use it to confirm the balance of the bunkers. A previously manual process, which is now very simple thanks to the app – and the previous test as a prototype.

The Digital Lab provides information about the efficiency and general feasibility of new ideas and solutions. This provides teams with orientation as to whether a project is going in the right direction.

3. A community for digital projects – discover good ideas together 

“Everyone has a good project lying in the basement, but doesn’t share it with the outside world,” says Jan Kazmierczak, Junior Expert Change Management Communications, explaining the smart steel natives’ digital community approach. Since 2018, colleagues have been tackling precisely this problem. The community around digitalization topics offers space to present new ideas.

The project started small. In the beginning there were 60 to 70 employees, today the community has grown to 140. They take turns giving inspiring presentations. “We asked our community what they were up for – Ted Talks was the answer,” explains Kazmierczak. Guest speakers are equally welcome.

“At the last event, we had an external guest who gave a ‘Fuck Up’ Talk. He was quite perplexed by how many motivated young people there are here at thyssenkrupp,” says the change expert. But this also results in very concrete projects: One very successful example is the transport drone that transports laboratory samples within the Duisburg steel site. “We have now introduced various theme days such as ‘Extended Reality’ or the ‘Big Data Day’,” explains Jan Kazmierczak. “Because the demand is really big.”

The aim of the NWoW fair? – Pilot to improve   the exchange between colleagues

With over 160,000 employees worldwide, thyssenkrupp comes up with innovative ideas every day to rethink processes and make cooperation more efficient. With a group of this size, there is often a lack of simple and rapid exchange between the business units and the teams of experts. The NWoW fair is a further step toward greater transparency and the active exchange of ideas on agile working models. This was seen not only by the visitors, but also by all active participants.

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