Building an Inclusive Innovation Process.
PSA International is a leading global port group with a network of over 50 coastal, rail and inland terminals in 19 countries. PSA handled over 85 million Twenty-foot Equivalent Units (TEUs) of shipping containers in 2019, making it one of the largest port operators by throughput globally. Since PSA’s founding, innovation has been one of the key drivers of PSA’s success.
The Need to Innovate at PSA International
But prior to 2016, innovation was driven purely by respective business units across the organization around the world and ideas were submitted mainly on paper or through email and manually routed to the relevant subject matter experts. There was no overview of the ideas generated across the business units nor was there a mechanism to effectively share ideas and best practices from one business unit to another. As PSA continued to grow their global footprint, they needed to adopt a tool that would help them to share ideas and get inspiration from others — no matter where they were in the world.
So in 2016, after making an evaluation of various idea generation platforms, IdeaScale was adopted as their enterprise-wide innovation platform. The platform was named as iCAN at PSA.
Getting PSA Members Onboard for iCAN
iCAN has become a resource for any business unit wishing to ideate on any particular topic. Campaign topics can be anything from workplace improvements, sustainability, and data science to technology scouting and finance transformation. They currently host 30 domain-centric campaigns. Many of these campaigns are ongoing with several time-limited campaigns running on an as-needed basis. PSA’s Senior Management led by their Group CEO and Head of Group Process Excellence also participates actively in the platform. New business units to iCAN are guided on how to onboard their staff after receiving a two-hour training session from the innovation team at PSA. This allows these business units to be equipped sufficiently to perform their pilot runs in less than a week. The training session includes:
- An overview of the IdeaScale platform and process in the context of PSA
- Onboarding instructions for members who will participate in the innovation platform
A Typical Innovation Process at PSA
When a campaign is live, it follows this typical process:
- Members begin by proposing ideas relevant to the campaign topic.
- Other members can comment and vote on those ideas to further develop them. Language is not a barrier here thanks to the intelligent built-in translations allowing everyone to participate.
- Moderators can stimulate more conversation and also route ideas to the appropriate evaluators.
- Next, the evaluators, who are usually the subject matter experts (SMEs), will assess the idea in terms of the feasibility, cost, alternatives available, etc. If the idea is deemed to be feasible, the evaluator would put it under “Ideas to Implement.” If it is something that has potential but is not feasible today and would be reviewed at a later stage, the evaluator would mark the idea as KIV (Keep in View). However, if the idea is deemed to be unsuitable, the evaluator would mark it as Archived. When the idea is eventually implemented, the evaluator would mark it as an Implemented Idea and cascade it across the community for sharing and adoption. These evaluators are either stakeholders who have a deciding stake in the implementation of the idea or who have a deep understanding of the topic within the organization. They can also assign the idea to other evaluators or @mention other SMEs for comments. On many occasions, senior leadership’s participation also helps in “fast-tracking” certain ideas.
- PSA also launches campaigns in the form of competitions where winners are selected either by a panel of judges or simply through voting depending on the sophistication of the challenge. Winners receive vouchers and other prizes for their participation.
The Results of the Innovation Platform at PSA
As a result of the iCAN platform, PSA has noted:
- Engagement through the form of ideas and comments grew from just 500 in 2017 to more than 1,500 by the end of 2019.
- The platform helps the moderators (who are working part-time amidst their key job scope) to route the ideas to the relevant subject matter assessors within the internal service level target of two weeks.
- The platform also helps the SMEs to indicate their assessment of the idea within the internal service level target of one month from the routing.
- Since implementation, PSA has onboarded 21 business units to the platform and more than 12,000 users globally as reported at the end of 2019.