Optimisation is the new black. Given the opportunity to improve almost every area of your business when it comes to planning, this powerful tool is on everyone’s lips. If you are responsible for operating bus services, then optimisation can help you to minimise the number of duties and paid working hours. You can also reduce dead runs and get happier employees. You can even test the best ways to contribute to a more healthy environment and ensure better conditions for your passengers.
In other words, optimisation allows you to improve your business exactly the way you and your surroundings require. But what does it take to become successful with optimisation? Here are 7 essential aspects to consider.
You have to know exactly what you want to achieve. Do you want to minimise the expenses for wages and equipment? Are you aiming to avoid split duties? Would you like to offer your passengers a more coherent journey? Are you looking for a way to retain your employees in the company for a longer time? As already mentioned, you can optimise on any parameter you want, but how much weight do you attribute to each requirement? To get exceptional results with your optimisation tool, you need to clearly define your criteria.
Optimisation at its core is mathematical algorithms that are fed with data in order to produce results. The better data, the better results! Though similar to artificial intelligence, an algorithm cannot read the mind of highly skilled employees who balance countless rules, wishes and requirements during the planning process. Everything needs to be documented and transformed into data; even all the unconscious actions and guidelines. Imagine that the optimisation algorithm is a substitute who should be able to take over without asking for advice. For this purpose, you need accurate documentation.
Unless your planning processes are already extremely well-documented, you must acknowledge that it takes time to get started with optimisation. Due to all the unconscious planning guidelines that most probably will not appear until you start testing your optimisation tool, you need several adjustments to get an algorithm that matches your planning processes perfectly.
In your company, there may be many different approaches to optimisation. The planners might want more coherent plans, while the finance department is looking for lower costs. To get success with your optimisation project, you need to make sure that all these approaches are taken into account. This goes not only for the goal setting in the initial phase but also while progressing and adjusting your optimisation tool to your organisation’s specific requirements.
Adjusting internal processes and workflows means that responsibilities will change within your organisation. The most obvious change affects the planners who will free up a lot of time, thanks to their new, intelligent planning mate. This time should be used wisely to experiment on improvements that can take your business even further. In a highly competitive environment, such improvements are crucial. Therefore: make sure that your organisation is ready to change.
Throughout the process of streamlining and optimising, it may be tempting to consider making your planners redundant. However, optimisation does not equal automation, as you may have discovered in this article. If you do not expect to change your plans ever again, it is true that you will barely need planners. But for progressive companies that are constantly looking for ways to improve passenger and employee satisfaction and adapt to changing requirements, skilled planners are still important - perhaps even more than ever. Let’s take an example: You start operating in a new geographical area. To optimise planning in this area, you need to feed the optimisation tool with new data. And, as previously mentioned, continuous experiments are essential to maintain a healthy business. You need skilled planners for that.
As with any other tool, you'll get the most out of it if you're really good at using it. Therefore: play and experiment with the infinite combination of possibilities that you can now easily overlook in your planning. The time your planners get released should be used here. This way you will constantly improve your business and be in the forefront of internal and external development.
Just like any IT project, implementing optimisation is a process that requires focus and time. But keeping these 7 essential elements in mind, you are well prepared to make transition smooth and obtain the optimal planning tool. An optimisation tool that will result in lower operational costs and outstanding plans to the benefit of passengers, employees, environment and your entire business.
Curious to know more about optimisation and how you can get started? Book a meeting with one of our consultants.