Nairobi commuters are in for a rather nasty shock this week, as the National Road Safety Authority decides to make good on their long standing threat of making the public transportation system entirely cashless. Travelers using ‘matatus’ anchored from terminals at Ambassadeur, General Post office and Kencom have been warned that starting Tuesday, all vehicles departing from those stages would institute the cashless system. Lacking from these communications was useful information on how to acquire said cashlite cards. Scanty online sources indicate that the “BebaPay” cards can be purchased from participating Equity bank branches and agents, BebaPay tellers on buses and at major stages.
While it remains to be seen if this system will actually be implemented, and how smoothly the process will go, there are lessons for us here as logistics managers, more so those of us in positions of authority. Introducing change to your company or employees is a delicate process; one that must be preceded by full information to ease the transition. In this case, a directive has been issued with little communication regarding how citizens should go about complying with the initiative. Similarly, complaints have been received from public transport vehicle owners and operators that not enough has been done to equip them for the change as needed.
To build on this, adequate resources must be provided if one is to expect their project- whether in house or relating to customers- to succeed. In this cashlite system example, even participating banks charged with providing the supportive hardware needed to matatu operators and Saccos have admitted that they do not have enough to match the demand. The most direct way to shoot your venture in the foot and almost guarantee a chaotic failure is to have it rely on certain specialized materials not readily available on the open market…then fail to deliver them.
Another key facet when it comes to the success of rolling out a new project is to provide the necessary notice so that all affected have time to adjust as needed. Kenyans have long been known for favoring the last minute before taking action, as anyone processing tax returns will tell you, but in this case the choice was made for us. By providing a hopelessly short and inconvenient deadline for the cashlite system, and indeed your own logistics project, those meant to benefit from and uptake the systems lack the adequate time to prepare. Most likely, had sufficient space been given between the announcement and intended implementation deadline, the uptake would have been both higher and better received as far as good will is concerned.
Feedback should also be taken into account when designing a time frame for executing a project. Public vehicle operators who are on the ground and have valuable insights into consumer behavior have long voiced their valid concerns regarding the cashless move; feedback that has clearly been disregarded as the Road Safety Authority opted to bulldoze the system through anyway. In any supervisory level, you will be tempted to overrule the protests of those you are in charged of, but do so at your own risk- the very insights you are opting to throw out may develop into the very hiccups that permanently derail your project.
So, dear reader, do you feel adequately prepared to make the switch, either as a commuter or public service provider? Have a well planned out week, won’t you?