Wipes out Rs. 293 crore accumulated loss within a year
A gentle clap can be a polite way of registering our appreciation of something. Or a vigorous and rhythmic clap could show how much one appreciates something. Just as the degree of appreciation varies with the intensity of clapping, determined employees of an organisation could increase the efficiency levels, enabling it to sail out of financial troubles.
To sum up, that’s the strategy that helped the Andhra Pradesh State Road Transport Corporation (APSRTC) to plug the losses by a whopping Rs. 293 crore by February end this year. The corporation accumulated a loss of Rs. 585 crore in 2011-2012, while the figure this year till end of February stands at Rs. 292 crore. That means, it was able to wipe out a staggering Rs. 293 crore loss.
“It’s not small achievement considering the massive burden due to hike in prices of diesel thrice this year. If things go as planned, we will wipe out the losses by end of 2014, if not making profits,” asserts a beaming A.K. Khan, the corporation’s VC & MD.
How did they manage to get these results? The most crucial component of the strategy was the conscious effort to involve the workforce in the task. The managers, however, were aware that sending out circulars routinely would not help. Instead, they attempted something unique. They were sure that if the worker is leading a happy and contended life, the quality of his work improves. Believing that this indirect approach would reap benefits, the managers began organising programmes titled ‘Mundadugu’ (step forward) attended by small batches of employees all over the State.
Trained senior officials spoke to employees and helped them understand quality of their lives can percolate down to the orgnisation and how efficiency could go up. Even as these programmes were going on, several managerial initiatives were in place to cut down losses. In a series of brainstorming sessions, each bus route operation was analysed to identify the widening gap between the revenue earned and the expenditure incurred. “We identified the reasons for routes becoming un-remunerative. The solutions were simple. On some routes it was simply changing the timings, increasing or reducing the frequency, rationalising the operations on routes; identifying the reasons for reduced earnings, improving punctuality, behavioural changes in drivers and conductors, identifying people’s transport needs. We did not leave anything,” confides M. Ravindar, secretary to the corporation.
For example, when Garib Rath trains were introduced between Visakhapatnam and Hyderabad, the occupancy rate in air-conditioned buses fell drastically. “We simply withdrew these buses on that route and started operating on new routes like Vijayawada-Bangalore.” The technique was identifying the need and then operating buses. Another exercise was that of getting an authentic information and feedback on services. “We trained some seniors and designated them as Customer Resource Coordinators. Their job was to travel on a route and suggest what could be done, be it the behaviour change in conductor or rationalising the route. “This gave us reliable information and we acted instantly,” Mr. Ravindar recalls.
The other effort was on the fuel consumption front. Constant monitoring of fuel consumption and intensive training of 45,000 drivers helped authorities get the best mileage. The corporation has the credit of getting 5.3 kilometres per litres, a record in the country. “Our effort is to ensure that every driver averages at least 5 kmpl.”
An austerity drive was taken up so zealously that the power bill of the Bus Bhavan, the RTC headquarters which stood at Rs. 10 lakh per month, was brought down to Rs. 1.5 lakh now, through some careful planning. “In fact, we ask all employees to leave by 6 p.m. Let them go home and have a nice time. A contended employee turns out quality work and then only the overall efficiency goes up,” says Mr. Khan.