Operations strategy case studies

Customer operations

A leading US non-profit health insurer focused on service as a key differentiator. It wanted to gain insight into current operational performance, and develop customer-centric capabilities like self-service and digital competency. PwC's Strategy& was engaged to evaluate and address gaps in customer and member engagement.

Leveraging our health insurance expertise, proprietary market research databases, and best practices to help the client develop its differentiated customer-centric capabilities, we identified quick wins included outsourcing of manual activities, automation of macros/scripting, and standardization of call center work-from-home policies. We delivered a plan to enhance workforce management, consolidate provider data claim, and move to pre-pay policy. Additional recommendations addressed network rationalization, timely issuance of ID cards, and reducing SG&A expenses.

The project identified $25M investment in provider engagement, flexible network design, personalized member service, and real-time enrollment to achieve the desired differentiating capabilities.

Customer operations

Innovation and product development

A global chemicals specialty company with multiple business units and several existing embedded R&D teams was challenged by stagnating growth in difficult market conditions and the client was seeking to reinvigorate the portfolio. The client sought to consolidate R&D capabilities and establish a corporate innovation function to coordinate and drive its long-term R&D agenda and drive growth.

Strategy& was asked to design the innovation operating model, define the collaboration with business units, and develop a concept for R&D partnerships and venturing to drive growth.

We established a target operating model, refocused product innovation into clusters and developed a venturing approach. The client experienced a significant upswing in R&D productivity, new record numbers of patents filed, and breakthroughs innovations in a number of focus areas. Overall, improved R&D coherence led to 13% direct top line growth and 15% EBITDA improvement.


Strategic supply management

A global lighting company with over $5B sales revenue across more than 130 countries was faced with tremendous market disruptions resulting from the transition from traditional lighting to LED. To successfully play in this significantly different market, the company sold off its traditional business and refocused on the technically driven, fast-cycled LED business. To enable this, the client had to adopt new business models. Within this context, the procurement function had to undergo a major transition towards strategic supply management to effectively support the businesses going forward.

Strategy& supported the client in identifying the new requirements resulting from the changed business models, developing the procurement transformation program based on prioritized 4-6 focus areas (e.g. SRM, Supplier and Innovation Scouting), including appropriate KPIs, and designing a comprehensive change management concept and roadmap to ensure engagement and buy-in from the client team.

The transformation delivered significantly improved service levels for the BUs based on nine key strategic supply management capabilities and an adapted operating model with an improved split of roles and responsibilities between corporate headquarters and business units.

Strategic supply management

Competitive manufacturing

A global product company with $10B sales revenue across more than 130 countries was suffering from a highly complex manufacturing footprint which was not aligned with the client’s main markets. The client was losing sales and profitability due to high order fulfillment cycle times, high manufacturing costs, and low productivity performance in its key operations.

Strategy& designed the global manufacturing footprint strategy based on clearly defined customer and market requirements. As a consequence, the team agreed to realign the operations footprint from 23 to 15 operations by implementing a more balanced global footprint closer to key customers and/or distribution centers.

The transformation delivered shorter order fulfillment cycle times while simultaneously reducing manufacturing costs by up to 10% and improving overall productivity and flexibility. These results led to a gross margin improvement by 5%.


Differentiated supply chain

A leading consumer goods company was challenged by a complex and intransparent supply chain set-up, high costs, and insufficient customer service levels. A country based setup in combination with high M&A activities was a key driver for increased complexity. Therefore, the company intended to harmonize and simplify its supply chain operating model.

Strategy& designed and implemented a customer centric end-to-end supply chain operating model including processes, organization, and IT solutions to ensure migration towards best in class performance.

The project delivered a simplified supply chain operating model, 15% supply chain cost reduction, and 30% inventory reduction while improving customer service levels from 94% to 98%.

Supply chain

Capital assets

A leading oil field services and equipment company’s financial performance was lagging its peers, and the company had committed to a 3% improvement in North American net margin. Management believed there was an opportunity to improve the effectiveness of their >$1B equipment maintenance spend, but was unclear on where and how to achieve savings.

Strategy& helped the client pinpoint inefficiencies in their maintenance operating model, shifting from a highly reactive and siloed operation to an integrated team using advanced techniques to deliver maintenance when and where needed based on data. The changes were substantial as the client reorganized to break down functional barriers and create a maintenance process focused on customer performance.

Results were impressive — the maintenance transformation program was implemented at the top 80% of locations by revenue, resulting in a ~2% boost to net margins. It also drove a 20% reduction in maintenance cost, 50% reduction in maintenance related downtime, and improved customer service.

Capital assets

General and administrative (G&A) operations

The securities servicing division of a global banking group sought to address business challenges like reduced productivity, sub-optimal operating model for its Center of Excellence (CoE), lack of process standardization, cost escalation, process fragmentation, and duplication. Strategy& was asked to help in accelerating execution and benefits delivery through process optimization, offshoring and redesign of operating model.

Strategy& developed initial hypothesis through a detailed current state analysis, using both quantitative and qualitative tools, and conducted workshops to identify quick win opportunities. We proposed a redesigned operating model for the CoEs, and suggested in-depth implementation plan to drive the changes.

The project identified potential cost saving of $10M per annum and recommended lean FTE allocation across locations. The project also identified opportunities to achieve process efficiency and provided detailed target state structure of the CoE, including team size, shift patterns, and processes performed.

General and administrative (G&A) operations

Enterprise-wide operational excellence

A leading tier-1 automotive supplier for the production and processing of rubber, plastics and metal with $680MM. sales revenue faced significant growth rates, but structures, process efficiency and financial performance did not follow accordingly and significant refinancing/cash flow complications evolved.

Strategy& was tasked with reshaping the company starting from product-market-strategy, developing the organizational structure and optimizing the entire process and operations landscape. An overall restructuring concept based on two pillars was developed: 1) Urgent short-term actions focusing on firefighting to ensure customer satisfaction and 2) sustainable long-term measures facilitating the optimization of the company’s footprint, product creation process, sales initiatives as well as lean production initiatives and the definition of an overall production system.

Continued success of these measures was ensured through the implementation of a common reporting structure and escalation process to track progress and define counter measures in case of deviations. The highly successful project identified cost saving initiatives worth more than $135MM. and had the client achieving EBIT margins of 6-8% during the project.

Enterprise-wide operational excellence

Digital operations

A global leading chemical company aimed to define a global digital operations strategy that would help them to be a first mover and leverage the potential of digital operations, increasing efficiency while improving customer service performance.

Strategy& designed the digital operations strategy covering manufacturing and supply chain, developed concepts to implement the strategy, scanned the market for viable applications and piloted them together with the client and the technology provider in lighthouses. Subsequently we supported the client in the global roll-out phase to ensure a successful implementation. The comprehensive strategy covered topics like horizontal integration and full transparency along the extended supply chain as well as digital manufacturing topics such as predictive maintenance, augmented reality or big data process optimization.

The transformation created a great momentum and mindset change in the organization and helped to achieve operational benefits like lower inventories and increase efficiency in operations.

Digital operations