dhl consulting case study

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Dhl consulting case: books & codes.

Since this is a candidate-led case, the candidate should drive the case from start to finish. 

  • Information about RFID technology will be provided to candidate if required
  • Knowledge on the RFID technology will not be assessed, transfer of (given) knowledge is expected.

Case Prompt

A friend of yours recently got promoted to the position of director of a university library . Yesterday, your friend received a call from the Ministry of Education, who offered him to be part of a national RFID pilot with his library. As your friend is unsure if he should pursue this option, he asks you for your advice.

Your task is to assess the RFID technology for his library. How would you approach such a request?

dhl consulting case study

Sample Structure

The following framework/structure provides an overview of the case:

dhl consulting case study

I. First analysis of RFID potential

Note for interviewer.

Ask the candidate whether she is familiar with the RFID technology. If yes, let her explain the key characteristics . Otherwise you can provide the following additional information.

  • Radio-frequency identification (RFID) is the use of an electronic chip (RFID tag) applied to e.g. a product in order to identify and track it using radio waves
  • Latter is done by a RFID scanner
  • RFID tags can be scanned over a wide range (~7 meters)
  • RFID tags can be scanned in bulk

Let the interviewee suggest a framework/ structure to do this assessment.

If the candidate does not come up with a framework by herself these are generally good frameworks for such problems:

  • Cost-benefit analysis

Let the interviewee conduct a SWOT analysis to assess the implementation of RFID.

Share Figure 2 with a possible SWOT analysis with the interviewee.

In this phase the candidate should come up with the following deliverables

  • Overall structure for following analysis
  • Identified need and potential of RFID technology, including key benefits and main risks
  • First assessment of RFID idea

Based on this high-level knowledge about RFID the interviewee should be able to assess its potential. 

These are generally good frameworks for such problems:

The interviewee should infer from the SWOT analysis that there are strong arguments on the benefits side. Therefore RFID seems to be quite promising and its worth to have a closer look at it.

It is important that this first step ends with a clear hypothesis stating whether the implementation of RFID is beneficial for the library or not. If the interviewee does not take a clear view on it she is not applying an answer-first approach .

II. Understanding of as-is situation

Let the interviewee ask relevant questions regarding the current as-is situation.

You can provide the following information:

Current system:

  • Barcode, each book scanned manually by employee for lending/ return

RFID pilot offer:

  • 2 tiers: bulk checkout process conducted by employee (all books scanned at once) + automatic return process (for non opening hours)
  • Financial aspects of investment negligible (covered mostly by governmental ministry)
  • 4 employees, working 8h a day
  • Media, mainly books: 900,000 books
  • 20,000 students, 1,000 faculties, 100,000 inhabitants of city

Share Figure 3 showing the lending process with the interviewee.

Let her then calculate the potential time savings coming from the new RFID system (for the employees) to quantify the benefits.

RFID system offers

  • bulk lending/return process conducted by employee
  • automatic return process (for non opening hours)

Time savings are possible at

  • the lending step (user comes to checkout, books to be scanned) and
  • the return step (... same procedure)
  • High level understanding of current library system including all key drivers
  • High level understanding of RFID pilot offer

The candidate should ask relevant questions regarding the current as-is situation.

Ideally the interviewee lays out the typical lending process of a book in a library first to gain full transparency.

As a second step the interviewee can indicate which process steps are affected by RFID. 

III. Calculation of saved process time

A) current process using barcodes:.

Checkout process conducted by employee: Take one (next) book -> open it -> scan it -> close it -> put it away

b) New process using RFID:

New checkout process conducted by employee: Take all books -> put under scanner -> scan all at once -> put books away

  • Description of lending process
  • Based on realistic assumptions, calculation of difference between barcode and RFID systems for major processes

To quantify the benefits of RFID the interview should calculate the process time of the current lending process using traditional barcodes and compare it with the process time of the lending process using RFID. The gap is the potential benefit or loss respectively.

Based on the process chain it is reasonable to assume 10 sec per book for the checkout. To derive the total time demand for the checkout process in an entire library the interviewee needs to estimate how many books are borrowed per year. The number of books borrowed multiplied with the checkout time per book results in the total time demand.

Key question: How many books are borrowed per year?

Who borrows books?

  • Students (20,000)
  • Faculty (1,000)
  • Inhabitants of city (100,000)

Detailed computation for students :

  • 8 courses per semester per student
  • per course, 2 books borrowed on average
  • Books borrowed by students per year = (8*2 + 8*2) * 20,000 = 640,000

Detailed computation for faculty (simplified assumption):

  • 20 books per faculty per year
  • Books borrowed by faculty per year = 20*1,000 = 20,000

Detailed computation inhabitants (simplified assumption):

  • 2 books per inhabitant per year
  • Books borrowed by inhabitants per year = 100,000 * 2 = 200,000

Total number of borrowed books per year:

= 200,000 + 20,000 + 640,000 = 860,000

Total duration of process on yearly basis:

= 860,000 books * 10sec = 8,600,000sec

= 143,333min = 2,388h = 298.5 FTE days (assumption: 8h working time/day)

Auxiliary calculation FTE days per year:

365 days - 52*2 weekend days - 30 vacation days - 10 public holidays = 221 FTE days / year and FTE

Calculated in FTE (Full-time employees) you need 1.35 FTE (298.5/ 221) to carry out the checkout process throughout the year. To finally evaluate this workload we need to determine how many FTE are needed for a new process using RFID technology.

Since this process is quite similar to how it was before it is reasonable to assume also 10 sec time demand per borrower . Not much has changed except the fact that a bulk of books can be scanned at once instead of scanning every single book. However, this slight process difference leads to a significant time benefit.

To derive the total time demand for the new checkout process the interviewee needs to estimate how many borrowers show up in the library per year. The number of customers (borrowers) multiplied with the checkout time per borrower results in the total time demand.

Key question: How many borrowers per year?

  • Ceteris paribus assumptions of barcode computation
  • Each time a student borrows 4 books at once when she goes to the library (assumption)
  • Borrower per year from students = 640,000 / 4 = 160,000

The interviewee could doublecheck this by evaluating whether the implicitly assumed number of library visits per student is plausible or not. In this case the implicity assumed number of library visits is 160,000 / 20,000 (#students) = 8 per year. This sounds reasonable.

Detailed computation for faculty (simplified):

  • 4 library visits per faculty per year
  • Borrower per year from faculty =4 * 1,000 = 4,000
  • 2 library visits per inhabitant per year
  • Borrower per year from inhabitants: 100,000 * 2 = 200,000

Total number of borrowers books per year:

= 160,000 + 4,000 + 200,000 = 364,000

= 364,000 borrowers * 10sec = 3,640,000sec

= 60,666min = 1,011h = 126.5 FTE days (assumptions c.p.)

Calculated in FTE (Full-time employees) you need 0.57 FTE to carry out this new checkout process throughout the year.

IV. Recommendation incl. reasoning

Clear recommendation including reasoning

Potential next steps if only weak recommendation

Based on the pure time savings it is highly recommended to switch to RFID. The library can save almost one entire FTE which equals ~30,000 EUR per year in savings (assumed salary: 30,000 EUR + social insurance). In addition it is highly likely that the perceived service quality will be better at the same time; e.g. due to possible returns during non-opening hours (as indicated in the SWOT analysis).

Further Questions

How would your recommendation change, if the investment is not covered by the Ministry of Education?

If you would transfer your gained knowledge of RIFD to the world of DHL and think about applying RFID at a warehouse: How would a implementation process for this technology typically like?

Which teething problems could you think of the logistics environment?

dhl consulting case study

Solution - Time savings on return not taken into account?

Conclusion on savings, profitability case.

Learn how to solve Profitability Cases in your consulting interview when you are applying for a job in one of the biggest accounting firms!

dhl consulting case study

DHL improves its human resources processes by a significant 80% with better decision-making capabilities

DHL, a global logistics leader, experienced a significant improvement in overall performance and gained additional time for strategic initiatives through the transformation of its HR operations.

About DHL case Study feature image for Exigo Tech

Logistics and Transportation

Applications, Data & Analytics, Custom Development & Integration, Security

Numbers that Matter

< 8 months.

The project was completed and made available for use within the timeframe of 8 months.

1250+ Employees Data Access in Real-Time

Data can now be accessed in real-time without the need for sharing through email.

DHL’s manual HR process previously allowed for a 5% error rate, but automation eliminated errors entirely, resulting in 100% accurate HR operations. The new process not only increased efficiency but also made the process more accurate and reliable.

As a leading global logistics company, DHL has established a strong presence in over 220 countries and territories worldwide since its founding in 1969. Headquartered in Germany, the company employs 400,000 individuals who work tirelessly to assist customers across borders, accessing new markets and expanding their business opportunities. DHL also offers services for more personal needs such as sending letters to loved ones.

dhl consulting case study

Catalyst for Change

DHL had a manual process in place for its human resources (HR) operations in the APAC region. The HR team in Singapore was using Excel sheets to track important employee information such as salaries, overtime and bonuses; leading to a lengthy and error-prone process. Exigo Tech recognized this as an opportunity to automate the process and improve efficiency. This automation not only saved time for the HR department but also ensured the safety of the data by storing it in a secure database server that could be easily accessed as needed.

The Solution

Solution Crafting and Making Technology Simple Exigo Tech partnered with DHL to automate their manual HR processes and improve overall efficiency. Our team developed a solution that streamlined how employees’ documents were accessed, making it quicker and more secure for the HR team to retrieve information they needed. We built a solution within the DHL network to ensure that the HR team had quick and secure access to the required information. Additionally, to minimise the risk of data and identity theft, we implemented password protection for files belonging to different countries. Our engineers designed the solution in a way that ensured the intended data was inserted into the correct tables, and a report would be easily generated using Power BI. This automation of HR processes led to significant improvements in efficiency, allowing DHL to focus on more important tasks and make data-driven decisions quickly.

DHL used the data collected through the automated HR processes to make more accurate and data-driven decisions. The improved efficiency and accuracy of data collection and processing allowed the organisation to have real-time data availability and accurate report generation. The automation of data collection and elimination of human error in manual processes, also reduced the chances of data inaccuracies. This allowed the team at DHL to focus on more important tasks and make better business decisions. Additionally, DHL could now plan things better as they have accurate, real-time data at their disposal that they could use to make more informed decisions about the business operations and future strategies.

The deployment of this solution has brought about a significant change in how data is collected and processed by DHL. Eliminating the manual tasks of collecting Excel files from different countries has resulted in a more efficient process. The automated process of checking Excel files for correctness ensures that the data is accurate and consistent, thus resulting in more reliable and accurate reporting. The team at DHL was able to achieve the following business outcomes by choosing Exigo Tech as their technology enabler:

dhl consulting case study


Mail Call Couriers saved half a million dollars in operation costs!

Cenversa gained an automated spin to their document management process with Exigo Tech.

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DHL Supply Chain’s Site Visits – 3PL Case Study Reports

Click on the links below to view A&A’s 3PL case study reports from our site visits to DHL Supply Chain.

DHL Supply Chain’s Control Tower Operations Provide Multinationals Global End-to-End Supply Chain Management Capabilities Detroit, Michigan USA Control Tower Site Visit July 23, 2019

Excelling with DSC Brazil and Latin America June 8, 2011

DHL Supply Chain – What I learned in China Greater China November 9, 2009

EXEL – At the Center of Global Supply Chain Management The Americas January 8, 2009

DHL’s “End of Runway Logistics” A Major Express Value-Added Service Wilmington, Ohio USA May 26, 2004

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