How MIC used agile principles to revolutionize OCS support

News 30 April 2024

Find out how the adoption of Kanban has transformed the capabilities of MIC's dedicated OCS support team.


MIC's Origin Calculation System (OCS) provides companies with a powerful tool for making the most of free trade agreements (FTAs) and gaining competitive advantage. But assistance doesn't stop once businesses have adopted the software. Ongoing support, from customization to technical maintenance to help with any issues that may come up, is also essential.

Since 2021, MIC has maintained a dedicated OCS support team to assist with this service. However, continuous improvement and innovation are essential for delivering superior service. Recently, a significant enhancement to the OCS team’s operations has been the adoption of agile principles - specifically the Kanban methodology - which has revamped their workflow in recent months.

The constant drive for improvement

At the heart of the MIC OCS support team are the core values of scalability, customer value creation, quick resolution times and a commitment to agreed timelines. However, in practice, there are always challenges to be addressed.

OCS is a highly complex tool. With over 500 FTAs around the world to keep track of and new rules being brought in all the time, constant software updates and a strong support structure is vital.

Managing this is a huge undertaking in terms of the knowledge, tools and time required to make it a success. These activities are very resource-intensive, which is always challenging at a time when there remains a major skills shortage in software development. Previously, this resulted in a range of unplanned issues, including relying on old, non-scalable ways of working, which meant slower processes and less-than ideal results.

To address these challenges, improve processes and deliver best-in-class services to customers, agile development was the answer.

Introducing Kanban methodology

Inspiration came from the success another team within MIC had experienced using Kanban. This is an agile methodology that aims to break down complex projects into more manageable tasks, with a focus on workflows to ensure continuous improvement and collaboration. Indeed, Kanban has rapidly become a highly-used solution among some of the world's biggest cmopanies, including Toyota, Spotify and Apple.

The potential benefits this could offer to the OCS support team were clear, so, after careful deliberation, MIC took the plunge. The adoption of these agile principles reimagined workflows to prioritize collaboration, adaptability, and scalability.

Of course, this required a major change in mindset to fully take advantage of Kanban's key benefits, which include improved visibility efficiency, and flexibility

The implementation efforts

When the journey began, the process wasn't without its difficulties. While every new beginning may be challenging, perseverance is crucial. Among the challenges were doubts from within the team about the new approach and conflicts stemming from old habits.

However, as the implementation progressed, it quickly led to a major reduction in processing time for tickets, along with increased team understanding. Ongoing support from MIC management also encouraged continued commitment to the solution. 

As familiarity with the Kanban methodology grew, this led to a significant increase in customer satisfaction with the results, with tangible improvements in areas such as ticket reaction and resolution. Even MIC's largest and most challenging OCS customers have now been transitioned to Kanban, offering reduced lead times and response times. 

Great results for customers and employees

Today, the OCS support service team has seen major improvements across many essential metrics, and the benefits of this are clear for both customers and team members.

For example, OCS support has been able to greatly reduce the volume of tickets the team is working on at a given time (e. g. from 390 to 190 tickets).  Meanwhile, the number of “work in progress” topics fell from 120 in April last year to around 20 to 25 today. This highlights improved efficiency as familiarity and expertise with the technology grows.

Other headline figures include:

  • Average ticket age of incidents down from 11.5 days in May 2023 to two days in December 2023.
  • Average processing time of tickets has decreased from 17 days in May 2023 to 2.5 days in December 2023.
  • 70 percent of support engineers report improvements due to the Kanban way of working.
  • Improved scalability, with the number of engineers available to support each customer growing from 1.8 to 3.7.

This doesn't just mean more satisfied customers. It also helps reduce the burden on team members, as well as improving collaboration and allowing everyone to build and share their expertise. In the past, members of the team only worked with certain customers - now everyone works on every ticket, from every customer.

Of course, the task isn't finished, as MIC is constantly refining and building on the platform. In the coming months, the aim is to further improve resolution speed and phase out time-consuming activities, such as ticket status calls. In the longer term, continued evolution of software development and support teams will ensure all customers benefit from the best possible service.