SBB has started several parallel projects to shape the future of passenger and Cargo traffic. To arrive at the best possible result, they decided to follow a co-creation approach with internal and external providers.
Last year, the Swiss Federal Railways (SBB AG) started several parallel projects to shape the future of passenger and freight traffic and recruited various partners to support them on this journey over the coming years. AdNovum was mandated to provide software engineering services for several of these projects aimed at creating a seamless as well as cost and time-efficient customer experience.
Welcome aboard, external providers
Ramona and Yves are among the AdNovum staff assigned to these SBB IT projects. Both underwent an extensive onboarding process before starting on their assignments. «The onboarding procedure was very efficient and really brought us to the same level as the other developers», says Yves. Ramona agrees: «The introduction not only dealt with the IT side of things. We learned a great deal about railways and rail traffic and dived deep into the inner workings of SBB and SBB Cargo. That gave us a lot of context and helped us understand the big picture of our projects.» Roman Caspar, Product Owner at SBB, emphasizes that a decent onboarding is key: «External employees shall quickly become part of the team and get familiar with our complex domain.»
Ramona is a developer and working on the Realtime Optimizer (RTO One), a part of the Rail Control System (RCS). The RTO One can automatically detect conflicts on railway routes and find the best alternative tracks by means of algorithms. «This is a tremendous help for dispatchers», Ramona explains, «the RTO One reduces reaction times dramatically and will step by step eliminate the need for manual handling in the conflict resolution field.» By helping to avoid and mitigate disruptions, this transparent monitoring system contributes to improved energy efficiency as well. But Ramona is not only enthusiastic about the project, she also appreciates the development process based on Scrum methodology. «Everybody brings in their feedback and ideas, and we always find great solutions for the obstacles we encounter. And although our group consists of both internal and external specialists, we really have grown together as a team.»
Advancing the business thanks to different perspectives
«Thanks to co-creation, SBB is able to complement its existing knowledge and gain fresh input from people working in the free market, which also gives us an outside-in perspective», says Roman Caspar. When choosing external employees, SBB specifically looks for team players. «In our projects, we bring together different worlds and cultures – from very agile to hierarchical. External team members must be able to deal with this, while meeting the quality requirements of internal clients.» Equally important, according to Roman Caspar, are curiosity, the will and ability to learn as well as openness.
Yves also emphasizes the lively «SBB spirit» in his project: «Everybody is really passionate about what they do, and it was very easy for me to feel the same way.» Like Ramona, he is highly appreciative of the working conditions at SBB. «The infrastructure is great, regardless of whether I'm working on site or remotely, everything works perfectly. And the agile development process unites everybody's abilities and makes sure that we come up with great ideas and new enhancements to the system.» As a UX Designer, Yves is involved with the project Cargo Digital, an endeavor of the SBB subsidiary SBB Cargo and component of the customer ordering system Greenfield. The goal is to transform cargo management on Swiss railways. While previously handled manually on the basis of Excel sheets, the new system will be a user-friendly and user-centered digitalized ordering system. B2B customers can easily request freight wagons through a seamless ordering process, monitor and track their wagons in real time, and take advantage of numerous special add-on services of this new system, which, according to Yves, will have an impact on virtually every sector and industry: «Foodstuffs, chemicals, machinery – you name it. If a company depends on the safe transportation of their goods, it will benefit from this new solution.»
Also in times of Corona, SBB continues to focus on teams consisting of both internal and external members. Thanks to the co-creation infrastructure, teamwork is as good as ever with everyone working from home. «In the long run, the Corona crisis will change the way we cooperate. SBB is constantly looking for options on how to optimize collaboration to make it as productive and efficient as possible», says Roman Caspar.