Claudiu Simion is Managing Director & Head of Air and Ocean Operations Support at, DB Schenker Global Business Services Bucharest
What was the level of digitalisation in your centre before COVID-19?
As a global business services centre, we are a relatively young organization, just around 5 years in operation, and our focus has been to ensure a consistent quality of service to our partners. A couple of years back, we added focus on automation and digitalization, and we are now picking up pace and shifting focus on automating transactional processes, enabling our colleagues to focus on value added tasks.
How did COVID-19 impact digital transformation of your company?
Before Covid-19, we already had a digitalization agenda that we continued to pursue. There were indeed certain processes that we had to critically review e.g.: the dependency on physical printer, where during Covid-19 crisis, with limited access to the office space, we had to find ways to be less dependent on printed materials. However, by and large, our digitalization agenda did not face a major change.
One notable transformation has been the move to a virtual environment and a more extensive use of collaboration tools like Microsoft Teams and Power BI dashboards. We had to adapt our work habits to a remote setting where he had to conduct virtual meetings, using digital dashboards, or performing online team huddles. This was probably the biggest shift in our mindset and our work style.
What type of processes did you digitalise in the last 2 months?
There are several projects that we have been working on, but I want to mention two examples: in our Finance – Accounts Receivable vertical, we work on digitalization of the collection process, while in Air and Ocean Operations Support vertical, we focus on track and trace activities and on the shipment creation process. We continue the journey and encourage all our colleagues to submit automation ideas and to embrace the spirit of continuous improvement.
What helped you the most during this period? And why?
It helped a lot to expedite the change of mindset, when it comes to digitalization and automation. It made us realise better that, when resources are limited, in case of a Business Continuity Planning, a higher degree of digitalization would help the process to be executed more efficiently.
What was the hardest thing to do? And why?
Adapting to the “new normal”. Technology is great and takes you to the next level, but we cannot ignore the benefits of direct human interaction in our professional activity. While all teams continued to deliver strong results working remotely, we still need to find that balance between in-office work and working remote. Once the Covid-19 impact is diminishing, we look forward to implementing an initiative tagged Future Office where we combine work from home with in-office work in a balanced way.
Do you think COVID-19 is a before-and-after moment/turning point in digital transformation?
As mentioned before, we had already planned for a strong digitalization pipeline. Nevertheless, COVID-19 raised the urgency to look to aspects that took priority on the agenda. For example, full Business Continuity Plan – the entire organization working remotely, without having activity disruptions.
How did the employees/your colleagues adapt and embrace digital transformation during the lockdown?
For most, it has been business as usual, because embracing the digital transformation is part of our culture and our DNA. Challenging the status quo and finding ways to execute the processes in an efficient and effective way is a key of our strategy.
Do you have a story or an image regarding this forced digitalization that you will remember or tell when someone will ask you about this period?
As many companies, this period has been challenging, due to the uncertainty of the situation. Nevertheless, this has not stopped us to find innovative solutions for what we had set out to do.
What is the next step in your company digital transformation?
In order to stay ahead of the curve, DB Schenker is focusing on technology advancements, and SGBS Bucharest local strategy follows the global direction. As a next step, we will continue to scale up our robotic process solutions both internally and to other regions.