Girteka Logistics – Delivering a digital transportation future

Girteka Logistics

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What started in 1996 with one second hand truck, a trailer, and three employees, has evolved into Europe’s largest asset-based transport company. Girteka Logistics now with almost 23,000 employees connecting around 1 million full truck loads annually places innovation at the epicentre of its growth plans. Martynas Sarapinas joined the business as CIO in late 2019. A highly decorated technology and transformation leader he is spearheading the digital makeover at Girteka.

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Martynas with a reputation as a leader in digital transformation you joined Girteka in late 2019. Were you specifically employed to develop and deploy the Girteka digital transformation? When the executive management outlined the group wide vision what specifically excited you about this opportunity?

It is worth noting that by heart, soul, and experience, I am a technology & transformation leader that has been in the front line of finance and fintech sectors leading digital transformations for the last decade. My previous role in mobile pay technology enabled me to develop customer experience leadership across both private and business sectors and when the opportunity became available to work within the transportation sector with Girteka it was too good to refuse.

Compared to finance, insurance, retail and online industries, transportation & logistics was and still is far behind many best practices of digitisation, customer experience and industry excellence, I was fully aware of this this. When I became aware of Girteka’s ambition combined with a DNA of growth, leading size, and scalability, I immediately realised that adding my part of the puzzle could make an impact not only to the company but also the wider industry.

Spearheading a group wide digital transformation for a business of Girteka’s size and scale cannot be achieved overnight. What initial steps did you take in developing and then deploying the strategy?

To start we should admit that taking the largest asset heavy transportation company in Europe and committing to a fast-paced change in a fragile industry is a major challenge for any group of leaders. Not to mention COVID fallout that followed just after.

I like to say that “all big journeys start with small first steps” and we had around 5 of those that lead us to where we are today.

First, I had to get my head around my own personal assessment of where the company was, financially, culturally, operationally, technologically and in front of our core customers. I spent the initial months obtaining and analysing appropriate data in order to build a map, whilst also visiting some of our major clients to understand how we work with them and where we have untapped potential to build up in the journey.

Secondly, I initiated a PNO like backbone construction inviting best talents to build business directions, aggregate initiatives to become a project portfolio and creating fast to learn basic execution principles that can be scaled to all staff involved to ensure we started moving instead of just talking about it.

Thirdly, no humankind achievements are done without people leadership, and I took personal leadership on our group-wide digitisation kickstart programme. This immediately became visible also in the local and European markets as we went public with talent attraction, strategic announcements, structure changes and started building solid best practice focused delivery and execution with velocity. This enabled all business and related structures to pedal the change milestones step by step. Of course, as a CIO by heart, I also put major emphasis on technology, best practices, operational focus and streamlining technology elements where necessary, and this resulted in visible improvement by end of year one.

The fourth step involved a major step back to the backbone structure of strategy and with the co-leadership of our talented (new at that point) Chief of Staff, all group strategy got a major boost. This really tailored our focus to a new dream to be among the top 10 European logistics leaders by 2026. It also redefined crystal clear 5 areas of focus we need to lead to make this a reality.

Lastly, when things were in motion and focus was in place, we shifted gears to move faster in all initiatives, scaling everything up and putting focus in initiatives to roll out in the long run.

With the backbone of the structure in place, 2021 saw initial digital solutions deployment across the European business unit. What would you point to as the main areas of success? Likewise, what areas have been most challenging?

To answer this question, we need to come back to the start of the industry we are playing in – transportation. The core of such industries lays with leading sales, capturing customer orders, and executing delivery processes. To do that we needed to select a platform that represents all those things. And we choose SAP and SAP implementation partner Novigo to partner with.

Partnership is one of the major areas of our success, followed by daily focus and excellence in project management and delivery execution.

On the challenging areas. Like all business transformation journeys face and we are not unique I would highlight, organization change management, business change leadership, and overall company culture evolvement is crucial for success.

“The Novigo team has guided us with technology solutions to support our business of today and vision of tomorrow”

Martynas Sarapinas

A transformation of this scale requires two vital factors, people, and partners. SAP and supply chain innovation partner Novigo are critical in your digital journey. How important has Novigo’s collaborative approach been to the success of the Transport Management project?

Novigo is a global leader for supply chain execution consulting services, enabling Girteka to uncover the benefits of SAP’s digital supply chain platforms.

Their professionalism and expertise have been vital in our journey.

The Novigo team has guided us with technology solutions to support our business of today and vision of tomorrow. They brought industry best practices to challenge our 25 years of experience in the field, especially at the start, when leadership is essential.

Click on the below to learn more about Premier Sponsor Novigo and their successful relationship with Girteka

You are still at the early stage of the rollout and as mentioned people will play a significant part in the ongoing success of Girteka’s digital journey. How important has it been to have a top quality CIO team? How important and what opportunities exist for new staff to join the Girteka digital evolution?

According to a McKinsey study, a whopping 70% of all digital transformations fail. Teams, talents, and specialized competencies are essential elements for success.

Over the past 2 years we have built key expertise around areas of: operational excellence, business process management, IT operations, software engineering, core technology platform expertise, foundation of product management, AI, etc.

A few achievements that are worth mentioning: during this time, we created new interfaces between clients and ourselves and this resulted in more than 340m EUR inflow revenue via digitally enriched orders from clients, which entails +60% growth YoY.

On the sidelines, we also run 100+ robots and will invest even more towards different forms of automation shortly, as we see major opportunities to re-streamline work to lead in effectiveness.

Our hunger for talent of different kinds is substantial. We are looking for various roles across business, operational and technical verticals and all talent interested in fast moving logistics industry transformation are welcome.

All in all, the project development and deployment has been a success especially when you consider the constraints and challenges caused in general by the Covid pandemic. Where do you aim to be on this journey by mid-2023?

The whole of the logistics industry as well as many others were heavily scrutinized against the worst of the COVID-19 fallout, but we managed to stand solid as leaders and the turbulence became a new normal.

Covid was a booster for our digital transformation and by mid-2023 we expect to be well settled with major Europe business running our new business platform covering all process from order to cash. Our financial, business intelligence, and employee related transportations parts will be much further progressed across the whole of Girteka Group.

A stable and future-proof business platform will open new opportunities for us to streamline process, whilst ensuring we harvest benefits across all areas and at the same time create new business and product opportunities and increase our business agility.

From a personal perspective, what have you learnt about yourself, your team, and the business during this process so far? What are you most proud of?

On top of the few important aspects that I have already mentioned which were major contributors to my personal development, there are two substantial learnings to add.

First, with a lifetime of experience as technology transformation leader you always must trust your instincts. My immediate reaction and approach is to trust my gut feeling and act based on what feels good.

Secondly, as a transformation leader you must have personal core and stand on it. Changes will challenge you daily, but your core will guide you forward during turbulent times.

Speaking of innovation and elements to be proud off – “To innovate, you must understand your own and the industry standpoints and where tech links the strategy and capabilities of the company. We chose to make changes in all areas mentioned previously. So far, we have 80% of Europe’s operations planned with AI and this is the start of the revolution, as we see it. This might give us a fundamental operational advantage and all who worked on this solution are worth a special Thank You!

Last June, at the Transporeon conference “Driving Change: Carrier Convention 2021”, Girteka Logistics was recognized as the “Most Visible Carrier” in the category of the largest carriers that year. We were selected among 118,000 organizations, of which only six were nominated for this award. This is another tremendous recognition and appreciation for the work our company has done thus far to become a leader in logistics.

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