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Lean & Agile double agent

Working on new ways of working. In the drive to become faster, more independent, more productive, Iryna Zimmermann sets a good example. Her specialty? Lean & Agile Management. As well as coordinating the corresponding initiative at thyssenkrupp in Mülheim, she also promotes innovative change in her role as SAP adviser – working from Mülheim for thyssenkrupp sites worldwide.

Standing still is moving backward. Let’s move toward change. What are you changing at thyssenkrupp?

“Firstly, as a coordinator I’m responsible for our Lean Office initiative in Mülheim.

Here at our site we have many exciting improvement projects – big and small. My job is to make all these projects visible. Not just so that all our employees know where and what we’re improving but also to enable us to learn from each other. That way we can reap the benefits together and then share our experience and success with other sites. I think it’s extremely important for us all to engage with the continuous improvement of our processes. I really get a kick out of it.

Secondly, as an SAP adviser I act as an interface between IT and the various specialist departments such as Quality or Logistics. The respective departments sometimes speak different “languages”. So I’m a kind of translator. Once the needs of the customer, i.e. the department, have been identified, I find and implement an SAP solution tailored to the specific situation. The aim is to optimize business processes. After implementation, the solution is tested and the employees trained. Later on, I’m responsible for support and further optimization. So in that way we jointly develop appropriately improved processes."

Alongside areas such as the introduction of new systems, you also work on other projects. Can you name a few examples relating to the Lean Office initiative?

“Sure, I’d love to! Various departments took part in a workshop on our Lean culture, in which we identified issues we want to address in the future.

First there’s the provision of information. Currently there are a lot of places where information is scattered across multiple sources. We want to work towards intelligently centralizing information and making it easily accessible to users.

Second, we want to strengthen customer awareness. We must always bear in mind who our internal customers are so that we can accurately meet their requirements. Only then can we serve the bigger picture.

We also want to look at how we can organize and execute meetings more efficiently. Not least, we decided in the workshop to take a critical look at the need for business trips. Often, an in-person meeting can be moved online, saving considerable resources. We want to carry on with this even after the pandemic.” 

What do you particularly like about thyssenkrupp and #GENERATIONTK?

“It’s the combination that makes it so interesting. I’m part of a big group of companies, but at the same time at my site it feels like a family company. I have colleagues all around the world I can contact virtually. But here in Mülheim everyone knows everyone else. The doorman greets us all by name. And the employees work hard as if it was for their own company. You really notice that. So we can enjoy the advantages of a global player while still being very independent. Not every decision has to come from the very top. That makes life much easier for some projects – and it’s completely in the spirit of Lean & Agile.”

Where is thyssenkrupp underrated?

“I think thyssenkrupp is a well-known name. It’s a recognized term. A lot of people associate it with steel or the family histories of Thyssen and Krupp. Some people also know the headquarters in Essen. But we’re much more than that. We have so many exciting sites and business areas. It’s the diversity that makes us who we are. I’ll admit that I never used to know that thyssenkrupp is such a big automotive supplier. And now that’s exactly where I work and I’m very glad I do!”