Best Practices

  • Bresimar – Best practice on product innovation
    Author: Alexandre Almeida - Globaz SA (Portugal)

    Bresimar was established in 1982 and specialises in the commercialization of industrial automation equipment and systems for industrial automation.

    The company's development was always based on the recruitment of high-qualify technicians, supported by a continuous policy of building a team capable to respond to a very demanding market in a state ofconstant evolution.

    The income of Bresimar in 2001 was almost 90% based on commercial activity i.e. being representatives of various brands and focusing its business in buying and selling.

    In 2001, Bresimar decided to establish an engineering department in order to support the selling and added/value of the company. This decision was supported by the analysis of the business and the prediction that profit margins would began to fall in their current business area.

    Despite the creation of this department, the company remained dependent on re-selling products from others and as a result of globalization the margins continued to be squeezed. The possibility to acquire products via web sites contributed to the globalization of the business area.

    In 2011 the Bresimar administration decided to create another department - the TEKON - Universal Temperature Solutions Department. The TEKON department is composed of 4 elements exclusively focused on Research, Development and Innovation activities.

    Having been established for only two years, the TEKON department has already launched to the global market two products in the area of Wireless Temperature Transmitters. These 2 products, “In Head Wireless Universal Temperature Transmitter” and “Wireless Modbus Gateway” were initially born, using ideas management software acquired by Bresimar. This software works with a social network approach - the ideas collected are analysed by a group of 4 “wise men” in order to evaluate the technical and financial viability of the product. If the group decide to go forward with an idea, then the TEKON department assumes the implementation of the project and the employee responsible for the idea receives a monetary prize.

    The 2 products launched are now the Bresimar flagships and they are already commercialized, not only using the traditional channels, but always using the web site www.tekonelectronics.com.

    The success factors associated with this best practice were, in the opinion of the director for the RDI, the know/how of the team, composed of 4 engineers and also the fact that the TEKON department was created with only one objective: Creating new innovative products to increase the quality of service provided to current and potential clients.

  • Change in Organisational Strategy and Structure
    Michael Remes (EFPC (UK), Madalin Ionita (FM Management Consultancy SRL – Romania)

    Introduction

    MBTELECOM (MBT) is one of the largest system integrators in Romania for large border, special areas, buildings and general security projects, providing design production and installation of Hi-Tech equipment. MBT has proven their professional capabilities also as a system integrator for IT solutions, providing case study, risk assessment, software development and hardware design, implementation, service, upgrade and maintenance services. Software development for all the provided applications and customized applications

    The Research and Development Department is responsible for basic research, applied research and development, technologic transfer, and technical support for operational activities. The R&D is organized into a Scientific Board for R&D and a Project Development Department which offers support for three laboratories:

    • IT Laboratory
    • Electronic and Nuclear Physics Laboratory
    • Mechanics and Hydraulics Laboratory

     

    Research is the driving force of MBT achievements. The success story of Roboscan-1M, the first fully automated scanner in the world, is the result of fostering an innovation climate.

    As a technology intensive SME, MBT is deeply involved in a wide range of national and international R&D projects. To cope with multiple domains, MBT is currently developing the largest interdisciplinary research facility in Eastern Europe (The Eastern Centre for Integrated Applied Research (CEE-CAI)). This project is co-funded by the EU through Structural Funds 2007-2013

    Our company has just finalized a research infrastructure consisting of 5000 square metres of laboratory and prototyping spaces under the name of “the East-European Center for Applied Integrated Research (CEE-CAI)” (11 laboratories each with up to 4 compartments such as: mechatronics, mechanics, electronics, automation, software, telecommunication, hydraulics, pneumatics, nuclear physics and adjacent fields).

     

    What was the problem?

    The initial trigger for change was a contract awarded in 2008 valued at 3 times the size of the company turnover at that time. The contract was to provide an innovative mobile scanner developed by MB Telecom following a patent registered in 2004 and after 4 years of intense research and development, marketing and technology development activities. Also in 2008 additional parallel contracts for border security were awarded to the company. The problem was how to cope with this increased workload.

     

    The most challenging issue that needed to be resolved was the eternal conflict between on the one hand, flexibility and mobility of employees to freely experiment with new ideas and resources and on the other, the rigidity of rigorous project management methodologies. The organisation structure at that time was geared towards:

    a)    Optimising resource allocation

    b)   Mitigating the conflict between subjecting all researcher ideas to management approval and methodologies, and the freedom of the researchers to take technical decisions.

    Solution

    The company used as a basis off-the-shelf project management (PM) methodologies (PMI standard) and then followed-up by designing a customised, intuitive and user-friendly (all you need to know) PM methodology, using trained own-personnel and PM software tools such as TRAC, open source integrated SCM and other PM tools. The leader of change was the president of the company and the key actors were young mid-level managers.

    The resulting new methodology of “project orientated management overlapping with traditional corporate management” is used depending on company needs. It has resulted in new signed contracts, successful new products and a new quality assurance manual with procedures for converting the organisation to project oriented management whenever necessary.

    Traditional corporate management structures are not flexible enough to cope with a dynamic company so whenever there is a large project to implement, the management structure changes to the new PM methodology. Subordinations are being redesigned depending on the project requirements and specifics and depending on the project rating (strategic, major, minor). For all projects, the project manager is subordinate directly to either the President, R&D manager or Department manager. In strategic projects, nearly all people in the company are incorporated in the project team and therefore the traditional corporate management structure disappears for the duration of the project and reappears after the end of the project.

    The new project management methodology is supported by an organisation culture and working processes which include:

    • Identification of areas for improvement: through experiencing positive and negative operational services within the organisation, any employee can propose to the process owner or sponsor a change which in general is discussed in brainstorming meetings with all stakeholders.
    • Stimulating creative or innovative initiatives among employees

    Organisational culture and environment is a key factor of the company’s success. Stimulation of creativity is effected by previous success of creative development activities and by financial incentives for successful projects. The financial incentives are given only when a project is finalised and products/services are approved and sold to clients. Using these methods team work is promoted throughout the organisation.

    • Training

    We believe in hands on training as a key learning method. In general new employees are put in teams with experienced employees that pass on expertise and innovation orientated organisational culture. In addition for specific knowledge-learning we send our employees to targeted training sessions with our technology partners.

    • R&D Funding

    Funding of R&D comes mostly from profits registered in previous years. Government and Structural funding is also used but this type of funding is around 25% of all R&D funding in the company.

    • Security and Ethics

    Security of information is handled by MB Telecom’s quality assurance system that will incorporate starting this year the 27001 BS standard for information security. Security of the products is handled by specific Romanian and European legislation as X-ray imaging is a regulated field of activity. All products and services must comply with relevant laws and regulations. Ethics is in general a big issue as the company’s project and services are in the area of cross-border security and include issues such as personal data, personal privacy and state secrets. Analysis is done by the project manager in general.

    What was the biggest success you can recollect in increasing efficiency or overcoming a problem within your organisation using this new methodology? 

    There are periods of time when cross-border security projects cover 150% of existing resources. Such a situation of resource over-allocation can lead to catastrophic results. Using a very good and application orientated project management methodology and through high involvement of the key stakeholders MB Telecom has managed to maximize the efficiency of resources and to finalize in 3 weeks a security project in more than 30 locations in Romania.

     

    Summary

    A dynamic company such as MB Telecom can stretch itself to be able to handle large projects only with a proper organisational culture that retains in the company resourceful and creative people. Procedures and instructions follow the path laid out by the ideology that motivates employees to push themselves to their limits in order to achieve agreed-upon objectives. 

    MB Telecom has been successful in educating and growing the mentality of innovation within the organisational culture, and only hires (or retains) people who are oriented towards innovation and creativity. The organisational culture is strong enough to convert people to be innovative or conversely to eliminate them from the organisation by disassociation.

    Footnote

    The business strategy practiced by MB Telecom is to invest heavily in research and development activities, in order to achieve product / technology / service innovative that bring high added value. In reference to this, an example is the development of the portable vehicle weighing system, which was developed and patented (patent No invention. 122693, entitled Method and System for Dynamic Weighing vehicle, granted in 30.11.2009) as a response to a need identified in the market and which generated sales of € 3.5 million between the years 2002 to 2010. Based on this patent, MB Telecom has sold more than 100 portable weighing systems, ensuring in this period almost entirely the providing of central and district authorities for management of roads (CNADNR and county councils).

    A more recent and better known example is the Roboscan technology[1], where MB Telecom has invested over 6 million Euro and 4 years of research and development at the end of which, in 2008 Roboscan 1M model appeared[2]. Currently, the Roboscan technology has generated over 18 million Euro, being sold in a total of 12 units at present operating in EU border. This business strategy creates large value-added, is consistent with the EU strategy,  the Horizon 2020, namely the knowledge-based economy, witness to the effectiveness of the strategy being the development of the annual turnover in 2008-2011, during which the Roboscan technology was about 50% of company revenues. As a result, the turnover of MB Telecom Ltd. had a jump of 747% from 7,995,455 in 2007 to 59,726,481 in 2008, while profit increased 100 fold from £ 21,794 in 2007 to £ 28,403,031 in 2008.



    [1] http://www.businessmagazin.ro/analize/industrie/roboscan-povestea-unui-inventatorroman-4791649/?p=1

    [2] http://www.forbes.ro/Mircea-tudor_0_395.html

  • The Open Programme - A Portugal Telecom best practice for internal innovation management
    Portugal

    Portugal Telecom (PT) is a global telecommunications operator and the Portuguese entity with the largest national and international business projection. PT has a diversified business portfolio in which quality and innovation are decisive aspects, alongside the most advanced international companies in this sector. The company’s activities cover every segment of the telecommunications sector: fixed, mobile, multimedia, data and corporate solutions.

    The PT Group is built around a portfolio of different companies operating in mobile telecommunications, international investments, research & development, IT systems and services, telemarketing, etc. PT´s telecommunications and multimedia services are available in several developing international markets. PT’s international footprint spreads to countries like Cape Verde, Mozambique, Timor, Angola, Kenya, China, Brazil, S. Tomé and Príncipe and Namíbia.

    An important part of PT values is it human resource policy and also its social responsibility to the wider community.

    PT considers its human resource policy as the active and efficient management of the talents of its employees, rewarding and encouraging merit, creativity, excellence and believing in the continuous renewal of its resources.

    The company assumes its social responsibility to the community through constant support to several institutions and by motivating its employees through a corporate volunteering policy, among other actions. The company creates innovative solutions aiming to facilitate the life of customers with special needs, and its products and services effectively contribute to areas such as education, environment, culture and sport.

    In the past, the research, development and innovation (RDI) policies and management, were the responsibility of the PT Inovação company, operating with the objective of “gathering knowledge and generating value for the PT Group companies”.

    At the backbone of PT Inovação and PT Group is the concept of “knowing and implement”, which aims to implement products and services that will lead to “creation” in order to be more competitive, always taking into account the point of view of customers. PT has created a department of exploratory innovation through which several national and international partnerships were developed, and which takes advantage of funding programmes.

    PT was one of the first Portuguese companies to be certified by the standard NP 4457: 2007 - Management of Research Development and Innovation. This standard specifies the requirements for a management system of research, development and innovation, to enable an organization to develop and implement an RDI policy, increasing the overall effectiveness of their innovation performance.

    Despite the importance of this standard, it was not enough for increasing the company´s dynamism in innovation, and it was necessary to involve, in an informal approach, all departments, staff and teams in the process of enhancing innovation.

    Another issue for PT was the fact that the company was not considering innovation as a whole i.e. an activity involving all staff members in each company belonging to the PT group. Rather, the company PT Inovação was dealing with innovation in an isolated or independent manner, but it soon realized the need to work on the basis of a more collaborative approach, engaging all companies from the group transversally. Innovation could not only be developed by an individual grouping within the company, but also required the strategic positioning of company staff roles group-wide in the innovation creating process.

    These shortfalls, led to the creation of an innovation programme called the OPEN programmes implemented throughout the PT Group that has changed the mind-set of employees and encouraged them to participate actively in the innovation process.

    The deployment of the OPEN programme (in 2007) was created by a transversal team, composed of staff from several departments, including top management. The OPEN Programme, consolidated in 2010, launched group-wide systematic practices and a culture oriented towards applied research and development. It creates a structured approach to innovation that encompasses the incremental, planned and exploratory innovation in order to achieve the business development and growth.

    Besides contributing to technological innovation of products and services, the programme started to leverage other R&D areas, identifying new ways to work, study and interact with customers. The programme also aggregates new functionalities and increases environmental sustainability in the market offering.

    One of the most visible components of OPEN is the marketplace of ideas implemented through an online platform connected to the corporate intranet with around 7,000 users that has already resulted in the discussion of 6,000 ideas and the implementation of 250 of those ideas. For the success of the programme, the engagement of the entire organisation was fundamental.

    The ideas are submitted by employees and those that generate more discussions and likes are analysed by the directors of each relevant PT department in order to evaluate the technical and financial viabilities. There is no monetary compensation associated to an idea that goes forward to the process of RDI; the main incentive is that the decision to implement the idea will be signed by the president of the company and the name of the employee will be always associated with that innovation.

    To summarise, the success factors of the Open Programme are:

    • Involvement of top management representatives
    • Each and every employee is involved in the programme and included in the activities
    • Each action must have a reaction, i.e. none of the ideas registered by the employees should be ignored and left without feedback

    In term of outputs, and after 4 years of running the programme, PT has a larger number of innovative ideas and has imbued their employees in the spirit of open innovation, working towards new product development, and also for resolving internal problems. The next stage for OPEN programme will be to open it up to external organisations, mainly clients and providers.

    In terms of lessons learned, it is important to highlight that the involvement of employees during all stages of the innovation process is fundamental, including strategy, implementation and participation in the Open Programme - all persons involved must feel that they are part of the programme and are fundamental for its success.

  • Best Practice Article regarding the two high class rewards received by EASS on the 8th of October
    Author: Marek Link - Estonian Academy of Security Sciences (Estonia)

    The Quality Innovation of the Year Competition has been organised annually in Finland since 2007. Its purpose is to increase the amount and level of innovations in Finland and other countries. The competition started as a national competition of Finland but has since then been expanded to include Estonia (2010), Sweden (2011) and Latvia (2012). Today the Quality Innovation of the Year Competition is truly an international event with many more countries looking to participate in the near future. The competition is arranged by Laatukeskus Excellence Finland, a national non-profit organisation dedicated to performance improvement. The award is given mainly in two categories- Quality Innovation in the private sector and quality innovation in the public sector. This year the Estonian Academy of Security Sciences who also participates as a Security end-user in the FP7 INSEC project has won a quality innovation reward in the public sector category and also was awarded overall winner of the vole competition with the title of “innovation of Innovations in 2012“


    Description of the innovative virtual reality solutions for law-enforcement training, including web links

    Major accidents (e.g., collisions on railways, plane disasters, forest fires, chemical accidents, etc.) are a major challenge for the operational forces. Preparations for these events involve various mock exercises and also resource-intensive real exercises. The justification of the need for development of the new service “innovative virtual reality solutions for law-enforcement training” includes:

    1) Current large resource costs in terms of labour, time and financial resources

    2) A real threat of current exercises causing environmental pollution or inconvenience to the local population

    3) A need to increase the training efficiency (real exercises could not be repeated, so it was not possible to test a variety of tactical variations)

    4) Emergency services (police, rescue and ambulance) lacked a uniform training environment in which to practice and test the readiness for reacting to the various types of disasters and the aftermath of crisis (EU joint exercises)

    In 2007, a project "Safe and Secure" was funded by the European Commission. This project assembled a team of top specialists, training experts and trainers of agencies who were tasked to design, procure and implement an innovative interactive training environment. The resources were directed to establish the virtual environment, the training of instructors, development of training cases and carrying out co-operation trainings. On 25 February 2009 the most modern learning environment in the Nordic countries based on the virtual simulation of prevention and training of major accidents and terrorist threats, was opened. This resulted in the establishment on 01 September 2012 of the Innovative Learning Technology Centre (hereinafter CIALT) within the framework of the Internal Security Institute

    Currently, CIALT uses 7 different learning and training software tools, but mostly a virtual training environment called XVR produced by Dutch company E-semble.

    Using a joystick XVR allows one or more incident response professionals to walk, drive or fly around in the simulated reality of an incident. This gives them the opportunity to train in observing and assessing the environment. Furthermore they have to assess risks and dangers, decide which measures to take and what procedures to apply, and report to the other rescue crew members. While the students are distracted by surrounding noise and confusion, they are expected to focus on their tasks and to set priorities.

    An essential feature of XVR is that the instructor can easily build an incident scenario and has full control over the course of events in the scenario during the exercise. After starting the exercise, the instructor presents the student with questions and asks the student to rationalise his/her decisions. He/She can also give feedback, for instance by role-playing as a member of the control room or other rescue staff. The instructor can respond to the student's decisions by activating events in the virtual scenario. The instructor may also decide to condense time and jump to a next phase in the incident.

    Find out more:

    http://www.e-semble.com/en/Products/XVR/In_general/

    http://www.sisekaitse.ee/eass/cialt/


    The future impact of this training

    The serious gaming method will have a huge impact for the whole internal Security Sector. There are more and more new possibilities available each day and also the number of users has significantly grown each year. The method has its roots from the military sector and is now reaching out to internal security organisations covering professions like rescue, police, border guards, customs, medics and also private security enterprises. All these sectors are facing financial cuts and therefore finding and applying new modern technology for training purposes can save a lot of costs in the long term and is definitely a trend to follow. The major obstacle is not anymore a lack of infrastructure or software, but rather the ability of how to link different technologies already available to different professions especially in cross border issues. There is therefore a huge potential for innovation still to be uncovered.

    Marek Link

    Estonian Academy of Security Sciences

    Head of Centre for Innovative Applied Learning Technologies

  • Best Practice Article on Social Networking
    Author: David de Castro Pérez - EVERIS (Spain)

    Enterprise Social Network

    Everis decided to initiate an internal social network in order to boost communication between employees beyond traditional means like email, intranets, etc. and foster an ‘open culture’ of collaboration and sharing of  ideas, where employees can express their feelings, concerns and  opinions (this being the first step towards a pervasive, day-to-day, innovative attitude). Another motivation for launching this initiative was to spread the knowledge and use of new communication tools (based on the possibilities resulting from social media and Web 2.0) among employees.

    Previous attempts of developing a corporate network failed as they were launched as Corporation top-down initiatives; too “official”, and even too serious. The result was little interest among employees and resulted in a short life. The new approach that has now been implemented consists of a more flexible bottom-up, collaborative strategy. This has resulted very quickly in employees self-organising around shared-interest groups and opening new places for discussing topics ranging from the most serious, project or business-centred matters, to personal interests, hobbies, and even light, humoristic themes.    

    This initiative was sponsored by the Everis Innovation Department and the strategy applied was an incremental one (quite different from traditional approaches). The first step was setting up one internal group in the network limited to the innovation department members only. Once this group was conveniently running, its member acted as multipliers, disseminating the initiative among colleagues and friends (actually inviting them to join) progressively opening up the network to other people in the organisation in a natural way (new members were then able to send invites to other people in their turn). The result is that no one was “obliged” to join the network and there were no organisational constrains; instead this network was smoothly built upon personal bonds (more compelling than corporative directions) and now 3,700 professionals are giving opinions, sharing ideas and working together arranged into more than 300 self-regulated groups. Groups are set-up for reasons including:

    • Enabling teams to work together in the context of a specific project or initiative
    • Enabling departments to implement an  internal network or/and a knowledge management system
    • For leisure (travelling, training, music, wine-lovers, etc.)

    The leader of this Enterprise Social Network was one person in the Innovation Department, very experienced in the Social Media environment, and importantly with powerful communication and motivational skills.  This initiative certainly required (during the beginning stages in particular) someone with remarkable charisma and with an appealing  personality for attracting new members to the platform who proposed topics for discussion, uploaded news of interest, set up groups, stirred debates, etc. In addition a committed group, in this case the Everis innovation department member, acted as diffusers and actively encouraging activity. Success of the initiative was finally apparent when “early-adopters” naturally and effortlessly appeared leading their own groups and developing their networks according to their interests.

    The only resource involved in the initiative, apart from time from promoters in the innovation department (which never was too much as this always remained as a partial-time initiative, not excessively demanding or time consuming) was the actual tool Yammer. This was chosen as it was found to be convenient, usable and powerful with a nice look & feel. Additionally, this is a free tool (the functionality limited version at least, which was more than enough for their purposes, although chargeable versions with extended functionality do exist). Even if this tool was suitable, others, with similar characteristics do thrive in the market, so the tool, although important, can never be described as the central factor towards success - strategy and the team putting this initiative into practice are the true ingredients for success here.

    A good number of beneficial outputs have resulted from the deployment of this enterprise social network:

    • Empowering of employees (given that they can express ideas, concerns, etc.)
    • Collaborative working environment (indeed projects are being developed using this tool)
    • Knowledge management (for sharing and keeping documentation)
    • Internal networking, an essential element in a 10,000 people organisation
    • Learning of social media skills (vital in our current social and working environment)
    • Overcoming distances - very important in a multinational company, where projects can be accomplished with teams scattered in different countries
    • Stirring debate and conversation, this being the source of new projects, services, and other initiatives
    • New ways of communication: direct communication with people from other departments (who may answer your questions immediately); or the possibility to broadcast your question, for example, to 3,700 people
    • Internal web space for relaxation, making new friends and bettering the working environment (which can result in new personal bonds)  
    • Etc.

    The most important factors towards success were:

    • Adopting an incremental strategy
    • Bottom-up approach
    • Self-regulation instead of deterministic
    • A leader with skills in social media, communication capabilities and personal appeal
    • Cost-efficiency (this “experiment” was accepted since the tool used was cost-free, and did not require much people-resource)

     

    Summary

    Empowering employees is essential, resulting in them undertaking more initiatives and tackling problems more resolutely. People will go further when you give them the confidence to do what they CAN instead of telling them what they MUST do. Also, cooperation is a powerful mechanism for efficiency and a valuable source of innovation.  

    Full information about the tool: www.yammer.com

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