In a year where life changed in unprecedented ways, with many people turning to digital solutions for work, schooling, shopping, and entertainment for most of 2020, SLT rose to the challenge by focusing on operational excellence along with cost reduction.
As unprecedented as 2020 was, following the World Health Organization (WHO) declaration in February that the novel coronavirus was in fact a global pandemic, at SLT our ability to meet customer needs in difficult times was aided by our focus on three main pillars that supported operational excellence - field operations and access network operational excellence, supply chain management and sales support and facility management.
As SLT continued to work towards its digital transformation from a communication service provider to a digital services provider, SLT worked towards operational excellence through workforce management. This encompassed maintaining a multiskilled workforce, developing skills and competencies through training and development and improving productivity. These efforts were marshalled under the banners of the Company’s Employee Empowerment Programme, which seeks to gear employees to face challenges with confidence as they develop their careers with us. Introducing employee friendly platforms and simplification of processes helped to boost the morale of our hard-working and dedicated people.
Further initiatives launched to develop field operations and network operations include our efforts to facilitate working from home (WFH), working from pods close to home and the home to field concept for field staff on an automated WFH platform. Process automation was given significance throughout the year to enhance convenience for employees as part of SLT’s efforts to develop “smart employees”. Staff roster planning system was improved to ensure smooth functioning of our operations.
Even when faced with a pandemic, SLT continued to offer uninterrupted services to our customers and maintained the inclusion of concessionary education packages and meet the diverse requirements of customers. Whilst identifying the needs of local businesses and communities, SLT also moved forward to introduce an array of digital channels that would cater to customer services.
Despite pandemic related social restrictions, employees willingly offered to serve customers and work in the field, in full adherence of hygiene protocols. Their productivity demonstrated the success which was witnessed, enabling to provide uninterrupted services to the country as well as for all critical national services in 2020. All this was accomplished whilst maintaining their safety and without anyone having been infected with COVID-19. The Company also moved with agility to ensure the safe and efficient recruitment of talent in order to meet the needs of the business. A recruitment policy, was developed, successfully recruited skilled employees and facilitated apprentice training during the year under review.
To ensure efficient supply chain management (SCM), SLT focused on the smooth distribution of material, on-time availability and direct delivery of materials to field operations vehicles. Efficient stock control; just-in-time material management; lead-time controls and online inventory management contributed towards cost reduction and the elimination of operational disruptions due to stock-out situations. Waste-to-cash concept with KPIs was launched to achieve cost reduction across the Company.
A quality management forum was introduced to formulate a quality policy, establish quality objectives, sound processes, and promote risk based thinking, standardisation and quality assurance. To enhance employee workmanship a tool day was established promoting effective use and maintenance of tools.
We also liaised with local suppliers during the year and engaged in repairing and reusing material. Many repair centres were established across Sri Lanka for this purpose. The pandemic provided local manufactures with the opportunity to develop their products and develop capabilities to compete in local and even foreign markets going forward.
COVID-19 has challenged our status quo. We are transforming our legacy systems and legacy architecture to improve the customer experience. SLT-MOBITEL opened several flagship stores (Teleshops), offering customers the opportunity to experience and purchase 3600 telecommunication solutions. SLT will also be focusing on converting customer contacts into sales opportunities and introducing customer-friendly platforms. The Company will allow employees to use their own devices in order to be available 24/7 to attend to customer requirements.
Thanks to an integrated approach, product development at SLT now takes just three days. System efficiency and process efficiency have improved as has system security, with the introduction of a security operations centre to ensure our stakeholders are secure when using online systems.
SLT continued the acceleration of the FTTH programme with an investment of LKR 2 Bn. and the laying of a FTTH core network island-wide. Through the former we were able to develop our circle network, ISP, IP and core network elements. Low latency is vital for gaming which has been recognised by the Sports Ministry of Sri Lanka and included in the Asian Games and the Olympics. Up to now nearly 60,000 km of FTTH core network was laid out. 2021 will see another 15,000 km of the optical fibre added to the core network to reach 75,000 km by the end of that year. In addition, a 100,000 km of drop wire cables will also be laid out with a further 750,000 home ports set up during the next two years.
To ensure that we continue to provide an exceptional customer experience, SLT improved the contact centre, initiated a customer touchpoint improvement plan, leveraged Group synergy to deliver comprehensive solutions and automated digital applications. We also provided instant services in an automated environment and entrusted the relevant staff with repairing faults accurately the very first time.
As the National ICT and Telecommunications Service Provider, SLT remains committed to leading Sri Lanka towards a knowledge-based society by empowering every Sri Lankan with high connectivity solutions and transforming business with digitalisation.
M B P Fernandez
Chief Operating Officer
9 March 2021