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Success Stories

"Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four
sharpening the axe."
-- Abraham Lincoln

Success Stories

The success of asp. is closely linked to the success of our clients. We are therefore proud to present reports about a number of selected projects.

asp. & Badel 1862

A Toast to Success!

Badel 1862 d.d., the biggest producer of spirits and market leader in Croatia, is on its way to conquer the European market. asp. consulting helps Badel to give people the best possible training to meet this challenge.

The facts and figures are more than impressive: Badel 1862 d.d. is not only the largest and oldest producer of spirits in Croatia but also has a leading position in the domestic wine market. Badel covers more than 50% of the Croatian spirits market and is the exclusive distributor of several international spirits and sparkling wine brands in Croatia.

As spirits and wines from the company’s own production are already exported to 26 countries, Badel is now heading for the global market. The foundation for this development was laid in 1991, when strong product brands were created with the objective to use quality, market approach, advertising and other marketing activities to do away with the old polarization between domestic and foreign markets. Acquiring the SN EN ISO 9001:1994 N°80122-1 certificate in 1998 was another step towards entering the competition on the global market.

Marija Vickovic, Development Manager at Badel 1862 and in charge of selecting and organizing trainings for Badel, knows what it takes to become a global player:

Right now our company is in a stage of transition as we are taking all the necessary steps to become more competitive on the European market. In this context we put special emphasis on the training of our sales force as it is mainly up to them how we are perceived on the market. asp., offering a great choice of training programs and recognizing our needs, has helped us to create a climate in which people thrive and achieve excellent results.

Going for international markets, Badel pays special attention to unique branding. Each winery has its own labels and the logo “Wines of Croatia” uniting them. Spirits such as the vodka Vigor or the brandy Cezar are the flagships of the company founded in 1862. Badel’s plum brandy Stara Sljivovica has won the award “Croatian Creation” by the Croatian Chamber of Economy for superior quality, resulting from years of Croatian tradition, innovation and invention. With products such as Vigor New Generations, a series of flavored vodkas with low alcohol, Badel is setting trends for a prosperous future.

asp. & JTI

Walking Miles for JTI

With the help of asp. consulting group, Japan Tobacco International is successfully implementin a Perfomance Measurement and Management System. Brian Chalk, Vice President Business Support, is responsible for this important initiative.

Mr. Chalk, JTI is in the process of introducing a company-wide Performance Measurement and Management system. What made you take such a big step?

Before PMM, JTI did not have a focused or balanced set of KPIs to proactively manage strategic performance on a global basis. Historically we have created significant demands on markets and factories to feed a lot of data into Geneva HQ, which is held in a scattered IT environment. This resulted in frustration to access information critical to managing performance and also enhancing the decision making process. Now that we have identified our Strategic Performance Areas and supporting KPIs, we are starting to deploy the process in our key locations around the globe.

What can PMM do for a focused and optimized information flow?

Once performance measures will be available to the headquarters through PMM on a regular basis, a great opportunity will exist to refocus reporting needs and make communication around performance a much more effective process. This should then enable the resources in our markets and factories to focus more attention on their customers and their own business drivers. Through cascadence of “Measure Ownership” to key individuals PMM also provides positive reinforcement and clarification around roles and accountabilities.

What do you expect PMM to do for your brands?

One of our strategic goals is to grow our Global Flagship Brands. With PMM we will have more effective and consistent information regarding brand performance, driving more qualitative decisions on investment. I am convinced that the benefits can be significant. As we identify the key triggers in a competitive context and from the feedback of our consumers, we will enhance our capabilities to grow our flagship brands Camel, Winston, Salem and Mild Seven.

When did you introduce PMM?

We started in 1998 together with asp. consulting, who helped us from the very beginning. Having worked with many consultants on numerous initiatives, asp. impressed me most with their very practical approach to adding value to a client at a reasonable cost. They also demonstrate a passion for excellence that creates an effective team spirit with a client. Unlike other consulting companies, they do not start out by pushing for a big contract, but they want to prove the value of their services first. This is a different angle that I find very refreshing. I never ever considered looking for anybody else and I don’t think there are many companies out there who can match their experience in this particular area.

Would you have been able to implement PMM without the help of asp.?

No, I don’t think so. JTI is a very democratic company, with a consensus management style. This makes it quite difficult to align all key constituents and promote change rapidly. Introducing a PMM system is not an easy initiative and is usually met with some resistance. With the clarity of their message, asp. helped me to get our people aligned and to not lose momentum. I have personally learned a lot by working with them, they really try to support a client in every way.

What was the strategy for the roll-out?

There were two pilots, one in Russia, one in Switzerland. We wanted to prove the PMM system worked effectively both in a developing as well as in a mature market. The fact that asp. provided a very detailed action plan also helped a lot. Strange as it may sound for consultants,asp. makes great effort to transfer knowledge to the client as fast as possible, so that in the end the client will no longer need them. We now need them for their resources – we do not have the manpower to do it ourselves – but they really showed us how to do it. By the middle of 2002, 20 key markets and 5 lead factories and our headquarters will have implemented a common PMM system.

To sum it up, would you recommend asp. for a PMM project?

Any time! They have dedicated people with broad business experience, who are passionate about their work. You need a lot of enthusiasm and energy to succeed with such a project, and asp. has truly supported me on this journey.

Thank you very much for the interview.

asp. & Manitoba Smart Network

Connecting Canadians

Manitoba Smart Network Inc. (MSN INC.) www.manitobasmartnetwork.ca is part of Industry Canada’s government initiative of Connecting Canadians through “Smart Communities”. The objective is to help Canada become a leader in the design and application of communication technologies for community development. The introduction of MSN INC. contributes to leveling the playing field for a regional community network with the ultimate goal of connectivity between the larger urban centers and the rural communities in the province of Manitoba.

The MSN INC. initiative is the first stage of a longer-term plan to provide similar advanced technology throughout the region in order to facilitate a lifestyle that is productive and sustainable. When the MSN INC. initiative was first launched in August 2001, managing director Bob Munro did not have a lot of role-models for orientation. “Having set up a kind of virtual community, Ireland came closest to what we had in mind”, says Munro. “Today we receive requests from as far as Australia to present the concept and model that has made MSN INC. a success.

Measuring Performance

Looking for a company with wideranging expertise in the field of Performance Measurement & Management, MSN INC. contacted asp. consulting group. “asp. has helped us build a PMM model that exceeds our expectations. The services provided by asp. were absolutely exemplary with regard to quality and timelines. In addition, the pbviews software that asp. provided turned out to be a most powerful tool to develop a customer driven web based performance measurement system accessible by all provincial and federal stake-holders in Canada. We are now even planning to become a reseller of pbviews so that our current and future customers can profit from our experience”, Munro says about work with asp. consulting. The establishment of customer & supplier clinics as well as the integration of the supply chain in the PMM process are future goals

Diagnostic Imaging

The Manitoba Smart Network initiative, encompassing the communities of Brandon, Carberry, Minnedosa, Neepawa and Souris, is built on four pillars:

  • health
  • education
  • community services
  • business

One example of how MSN INC. improves quality of life is the linking of diagnostic imaging facilities. When, for instance, an elderly disabled person from a small rural town had to get the expert opinion of a radiologist, a long and tedious journey had to be undertaken. Now the local doctor can take care of this task, sending the x-ray online to a specialist in Winnipeg, Manitoba. “With projects like these we can make services available to people that they otherwise would not have access to”, says Bob Munro, who believes that global alliances between communities are the key to sustainable developments. “If we remove the barriers of geography and concentrate on world best practices, we can improve the quality of life in remote regions around the globe.

asp. & OBI

The Art of Sales

A tailor made employee education program for sales professionals helps IMO/OBI to increase turnover in their ‘Do it Yourself’ Markets

More than 200 sales professionals in the Do it yourself (DIY) Markets of the IMO/OBI Group in Carinthia and Styria are working on the concrete improvement of their sales and closing capabilities.

asp. is supporting them with a highly customized education program.

The product assortment and the pricing of DIY markets leave only few possibilities to differentiate against competitors. Consequently IMO/OBI is systematically taking care of their employee education to build up a competitive advantage. The professional behavior, the sales skills and the functional competence of their staff make a real difference and create measurable benefits for the customers. And that’s all what counts. Customer is king – and wants to be treated like that.

The primary goal of this quality initiative is to motivate employees to proactively work with customers and to encourage more experienced sales experts to coach younger professionals. This aims to increase the overall number of closings and to increase the turnover.

Investing in employee development

Therefore the asp. consulting group developed a three step employee development program for the IMO/OBI:

  •  Successful Selling I
  • Successful Selling II
  • Successful Closing

Each module consists of one day of theoretical training, including of course video analysis and practical exercises, and a coaching day which takes place at the actual working place of the participants, one or two weeks after the initial training. This gives the participants the possibility to practice the new abilities in their real world environment and to get immediate feedback from experienced training experts of asp.

Successful Selling I – effective sales communication

The goal of the first training is, besides creating awareness for service and quality in sales, to teach basic techniques to successfully conduct sales contacts and to better handle difficult situations.

Content wise the ”OBI-Service-Package“ is at the heart of the first module. Starting with the assumed customer requirements regarding basic services of a DIY-market, the participants develop possibilities to differentiate against competitors and to exceed customer expectations. ”The sound of music“ – is very important, especially in sales. To hit the right tones in future, all participants get theoretical and practical insight on aspects of behavior, like active listening, asking the right questions, tone and temper of voice etc. Moreover, difficult sales situations are being analyzed and practiced. Role plays and discussions help to overcome virtually every hurdle.

Mr. Petschenig, Department head the DIY-market located in Wolfsberg about this module:
I am fond of the fact that this training is so practically oriented. Surprisingly enough they even made us like the video training.

Successful Selling II – types of customers

Given the fact that after the basis course all participants are already familiar with the basics of sales communication, module two is focusing on the different types of customers. This helps sales professionals to better understand how customer types act, react and how they are served best.

Difficult customers are a given fact. Therefore it is vital to discuss and train how to best handle difficult customer related situations. Doing so, participants practice general communication tactics as well as the focused communication of expert knowledge.

Content wise, the service pack of IMO/OBIs is key (also included in this module). The message is simple: Never give in on quality and service.

Ms. Jarz, Villach is one of the participants:
The training of asp. contains many interesting things, thus we should do that more often. It would be good to send new, especially young, employees to this training right at the beginning of their career at IMO/OBI and to refresh the knowledge every two years. I personally learned to stay calm in difficult situations. The trainers of asp. are doing extremely well.

Successful Closing – Boosting Sales

For experienced and ambitious sales personalities who have successfully worked their way through the first two modules there is a special ”goodie“; successful closing, or the art of effective communication. The program is, however, not tempting to manipulate people but applies teaching methods for goal oriented and effective communication strategies. The clear goal is to provide the customer with the optimal product for his/her individual needs.

Generally speaking, there are five sales relevant sales strategies and ten sales relevant tactics to influence on communication patterns.

For successful selling it is vital to know and to apply all the sales tactics in the appropriate situations. In the course of an individual capability analysis, all the participants get insight on their communication related strengths and their potential for improvement.

Obviously the practical part is strongly emphasizing those areas where there is room for improvement. Content wise, the participants focus this times on cross- and up-selling; an important but sensitive aspect of sales communication. In the end cross- and up-selling must never jeopardize the long term customer relationship. No matter how eloquent one communicates, how subtle one influences – in the end customer requirements have to be met and their expectations should be exceeded. – Because that’s what sales is all about.

asp. & Pewag

Rapid Improvement

asp. consulting group helped Pewag Austria to start up a special kind of Process Improvement Program.

Reengineering or Restructuring is only good to free up employees – they say. Not at all, says asp. consulting. Below you will find a very positive example on how our Rapid Improvement® Program helps to simplify processes, to create visual working spaces and to free up extra capacity.

Going in

Pewag Austria is a leading manufacturer for special chains and lifting accessories of all kinds. In some segments, the company is world market leader. So both the product assortment and the technical expertise are excellent. Therefore, the production facility “Hansenhütte” had to cope with the strong and steady growth of the company. Trapped between road and a nearby river there are natural boundaries to future expansion. Shop floor capacity constraints are a daily issue.

Promise

The clear target of the workshop was to simplify processes and to reduce transport activities and search times to within only one week through the consequent identification and elimination of waste. In the course of a hands on workshop single processes or process groups within a department are subject to an in depth analysis. What is very special about the approach is the fact that identified weaknesses are eliminated immediately- during the course of the workshop. Therefore, after five days you get visible results and measurable improvement.

Impossible

Our consultants are used to skepticism and to kind smiles when they start talking about measurable changes within one week. The list of negative arguments is long and ranges from “yet another improvement workshop” to “we have been improving our work for over 30 years, day by day, what are you going to tell us now”. Of course, how much improvement is possible depends on the general leanness of a company, its resistance to change and the motivation of the team.

Interesting

You may compare production facilities with a water pipeline. Spring water is being collected in a pool on top of a mountain and distributed to the consumers via the pipeline who can then use it as tap water. To increase the throughput of the pipeline it wouldn’t help to create a bigger pool (thus to build up stock). It’s wiser to work on the speed of the water in order to have it distributed quicker. Consequently Rapid Improvement® initiatives always start at the end of the value chain and travel backwards “against the waters” up to the purchasing department.

Implementation

The rules are simple – no bosses, no don’ts, instead there is a guarantee given by the management that the analyzed processes may be changed, just the way the workshop team proposes. So within the given workshop boundaries, (almost) everything is allowed.

Plans are worth nothing but planning is everything. So the workshop starts with a short theoretical introduction and the structured analysis of the current situation. Thereafter the main objectives are defined and concrete activities put into a five day schedule. Every workshop ends with the presentation of the results to the management team.

The Pewag workshop started in the packaging & dispatching department. In order to solve the shop floor capacity issue the team aimed at improvements in two main areas: Process Improvement (employees and material transportation) and working place organization (reduce search times and free shop floor).

Success

In the packaging area both transportation activates and cycle time could be reduced significantly through bundling of material transport. Similar results applied for the central warehouse and the packaging area. The entire department made big progress through the consequent implementation of the 5-S (sorting, simplifying, systematic cleaning, standardization and self discipline).

Enthusiasm

But not only the measurable results count. More important is the fact that such a workshop may serve as a launching pad to consequently search for, to identify and to use room for improvement. The intense involvement of the employees with their practical experience not only helps to increase efficiency and to reduce cost but also demonstrates openness and trust of the management team towards their employees.

In essence, leaders and employees should act as one team. But to form teams you first need a little bit of trust. And if you are willing to trust then you are most likely to get Rapid Improvement ® as well.

asp. & Richard Lawson

The Right Way

asp. consulting is evaluating customer satisfaction for Richard Lawson Auto Logistik GmbH (RLAL), one of Europe’s leading providers of automobile logistics services. The following is an interview conducted by asp. with Dr. Winter, director for quality management of RLAL in Germany.


Dr. Winter, what kind of services does your company offer?


We have three major business segments:

  • Transportation of automobiles ex factory or port to the end user: the Richard Lawson Auto Logistics Group undertakes more than 1,5 million deliveries per year.
  • Pre-delivery vehicle inspection and preparation: we clean and inspect the new cars before they are delivered to the customers.
  • Used vehicle reconditioning: as partner of renowned rental car and leasing organizations we are responsible for the evaluation and reconditioning of their used car fleets.

Those are our three most important service segments. Of course, Richard Lawson Auto Logistik is also involved in many other activities such as special transports and vehicle storage, just to name a few.

How do you check the quality of your services?

Apart from other quality assurance methods we conduct an annual survey amongst our customers in the automotive manufacturing industry. asp. consulting sends out a questionnaire we have developed together and collects and analyses the responses on our behalf. The fact that our survey is administered by an outside consulting firm is one of the reasons why it is so successful and highly accepted among our customers. It is an excellent investment.

Are you satisfied with the services provided by asp.?

Absolutely! Up to now asp. has always achieved a response rate of 75%, and anybody involved in the business of tracking customer satisfaction via mail out of questionnaires knows that this is an excellent result. Their data computing and reporting system is cleverly designed and has provided us with an outstanding tool for benchmarking. We are now even considering engaging asp. to evaluate our customer satisfaction programs in other countries. That would also make sense for reasons of data consistency.

Do only Richard Lawson executives have access to the survey results?

No, we also provide the participating manufacturers with the results. Our performance is rated so high that we gladly share this information with them.

Besides that, we believe in the transparency of our communication methods. RLAL always wants to be best-of-the-best and we are proud of the awards received from Ford and Daimler Chrysler. It is tough to be the market leader, but it is also very thrilling.

Dr. Winter, thank you for the interview!

asp. & Siemens

All Business is about People

“Siemens Qualification and Training” is the central partner for human resources training and development issues within the corporation. Dr. Dagmar Schwickerath is head of the department “communication competencies”, a subdivision of the Competence Area People, which is responsible for the development and extension of personal, social and intercultural competencies. Her Portfolio is designed to build and expand the key performance factor “communication skills” on a broad base throughout the corporation.

Dr. Schwickerath, how many employees are enrolled in the various programs at “Siemens Qualification and Training”?

Training and further education are a central matter of concern for Siemens. Our worldwide investment in this area amounts up to 500,000 Euro, not counting the cost for lost working hours. Over 100,000 employees participate annually in our workshops and training programs worldwide.

What exactly is the mission of “Siemens Qualification and Training”?

As part of Siemens AG we belong to a unique knowledge network that includes internal as well as external experts involved in the value adding process. Our global network of innovation thrives on the fact that once gathered competencies are further developed and continuously renewed in a project specific way. This is our responsibility as a qualification service provider. We tailor knowledge, the “raw material of innovation”, to newly arising entrepreneurial, technological, and social needs. We communicate technical, economic and organizational knowledge combined with social and intercultural skills.

You mentioned external participants. Can people from outside the Siemens organization also enroll in your training programs?

Certainly. External customers can especially profit from our tailor-made programs and qualification solutions. We handle the complete competence building process for outside companies – from the initial consulting phase to the implementation and the customer specific rollouts and skills programs.

How many employees work for “Siemens Qualification and Training“?

Currently we employ almost 370 people. Our headquarters are in Munich. On top of that we have offices in France, Portugal, the US, China, and, starting at the end of 2002, also in Malaysia for the South East Asian region.

You also employ external trainers, don’t you?

That is correct. Our partner concept connects us with up to 800 certified qualification consultants, speakers and trainers. asp. consulting is one of the partners with whom we work and are very happy. Presently asp. holds the 5-day “Influence” seminar on behalf of SQT six times a year. This program deals with the further development and the successful application of personal influencing skills.

How do you evaluate whether a course is well accepted?

We ask all participants for a detailed evaluation at the end of each course, this way we get a pretty precise picture. The asp. trainers always get exceptionally favorable ratings. Naturally the word of highly accepted courses gets around quickly. We’ve had “Influence” in our program now for quite a while and so far it has always been fully booked.

Does asp. consulting also deliver the program “Face to Face”, which is the preliminary stage before “Influence” on behalf of SQT?

No, we usually hold this course ourselves. Christian Schuster, one of our instructors, has been trained and certified by asp. for that program. It has proven to be most beneficial for the participants to enroll in “Face to Face” before they take “Influence”.

SQT has developed the competence e-Pilot. What are the main features of this software?

The objective of competence e-Pilot is to individually develop competencies based on the Siemens Competence Model via the intranet. There users can find developmental recommendations tailored to their individual needs. Besides training programs they comprise a multitude of other possible actions like specific behavioral counsel, exercises, reading recommendations, workshops and electronic learning methods. The web application is accessible for all Siemens employees via the intranet.

Can you detect certain trends in the seminar business?

The types of seminars are changing, they tend to become denser and shorter. Managers cannot afford the time to spend a whole week in a hotel, as they once did. We have to consider that in developing the concepts for our seminars. The issue of e-learning has priority in this context, always in conjunction with e-training, of course. In our newly developed seminar “e – tr@iner” we train internal as well as external instructors.

asp. & Vetropack

Time to Celebrate!

The Croatian subsidiary of Vetropack, one of the largest glass packaging manufacturers in Europe, has more than one reason to open up a bottle. So has asp. consulting, who is proud to accompany Vetropack on the road of success.

Vetropack is an independent Swiss family business. The Group is one of the sixth largest glass packaging manufacturers in Europe, and market leader in each market where there are Vetropack production sites: Switzerland, Austria, the Czech Republic, and Croatia.

In 1996, Vetropack Straza d.d., located in Hum na Sutli next to the Croatian-Slovenian border, was acquired by the Group. The company is not only a supplier to the Croatian domestic market, but also a key exporter to the neighboring markets Slovenia, Italy, Hungary, Bosnia and Serbia, in addition to the Balkan states and southeastern Europe. With a broad range of glass packaging products for wine, spirits, beer, fruit juices, mineral water, soft drinks and milk products, Vetropack Straza is also a trend setter. About 30% of the manufactured goods are tailor-made solutions. The products are in such high demand that a new production line will go into operation in 2003.

To reach this position, Vetropack Straza had to go through a hard time of reorganization. When Dragutin Spiljak became General Manager of the Croatian factory in 1992, he was facing serious challenges, one of them being to reduce the workforce by more than 50%. That the 650 people who are working in Vetropack Straza today are highly motivated and achieving excellent results is due, in no small part, to the enormous efforts in the field of human resources development.

Though the changes we had to go through were massive, it turned out that people are eager to learn and welcome all kinds of training, especially the programs asp. is offering”, says HRD Manager Damir Gorup.
In consequence, regularly monitored employee satisfaction is rising consistently.

 Dragutin Spiljak, president of the board and GM of Vetropack Straza d.d., also praises the work of asp. consulting:

Vetropack and asp. consulting have established a very productive co-operation over the past three years. With the help of asp. consulting we have provided various solutions tailored to particular management target groups as well as to all 650 Vetropack employees. This initiative proved to be highly accepted. Today we have a completely different corporate climate and a much more transparent communication culture than three years ago. asp. has adapted easily to our requirements and has helped us to set the crucial change processes in motion.