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‘Enhance-a-thon’ at Nelco: Scaling Continuous Improvement Initiatives

Published on January 02, 2024

Key Business Challenges

Nelco operates in the niche Satellite communication industry and has established a leadership position across various key segments like ATM, offshore Oil & Gas, Aero Inflight Connectivity, and maritime communication over the years. The Satcom industry is going through a major growth transformation globally and in India – both in terms of regulatory framework, technology innovation as well as the competitive landscape. An improvement intervention was initiated with TBExG as an enabler to establish the right set of processes, capabilities, and culture from a future readiness perspective, to manage the pace and complexity of growth and to continuously stay ahead of the existing and emerging competition.

To instil a culture of business excellence into the organisation, Nelco and TBExG worked together in FY23 to develop a customised programme that focused on both strategic and key operational areas. Seven projects were identified as part of this programme in FY23, ranging from strategic projects, process improvement projects and continuous improvement projects – a mix of external mentored and internal projects. These projects were taken up in key areas across HR, Customer Support, Project Management, Network Operations, Strategy Implementation and Competitive Intelligence.

Building on the success of the first phase, Nelco curated ‘Enhance-a-thon’ — an organisation-wide umbrella programme to drive improvement projects in a holistic manner. Nelco embarked on this journey to take the improvements deeper within the organisation, taking up more projects and involving a larger team on the journey. The objective of this programme is to get a step jump in certain key areas and build competitiveness in the evolving business context, by leveraging the learnings from various group companies across sectors.

In each phase of ‘Enhance-a-thon’, Nelco plans to take up critical projects aligned with business objectives. 18 projects were identified in Enhance-a-thon Phase 2.0 on areas like competency management, training effectiveness, enhancing operational efficiencies, building cost competitiveness, etc.

Expectations from TBExG

TBExG worked with Nelco to curate a customised programme which included support from subject matter experts, best practices sharing sessions and benchmarking to leverage the group learnings and building on these.

TBExG’s safety team did a safety deep dive including baseline assessment, risk assessment, action planning, building capability within Nelco, and also provided implementation support to enable the company to raise and maintain safety standards and ensure the highest safety of its employees and franchisees.

Nelco wanted the experts from TBExG to bring an outside-in perspective in the projects and also help in deployment of improvement tools & methodologies, optimisation techniques, Kanban principles, etc. for arriving at the optimal solution for the problems targeted in the projects.

Engagement Approach

TBExG experts were deeply involved throughout the entire duration of the projects including analysis, solution creation, implementation, and governance. Each of the projects identified had cross-functional teams and a formal structure of Project Director, Team Lead, Co-Lead and Team Members with defined roles and responsibilities. To embed this programme and improvement framework systematically, Nelco has implemented a consolidated monthly governance at the MD level along with a separate reward and recognition programme.

While each of the projects in the ‘Enhance-a-thon’ programme brought in immense learnings, Nelco also introduced a comic series ‘The Improvement Chronicles’ to make the learning journey much more engaging for the employees. Each byte of the comic series features a relatable storyline, and valuable learnings that tie directly into the improvement programme objectives.

Value Delivered from the Programme

The ‘Enhance-a-thon’ programme design helped the project teams focus on outcomes with a different lens. With the scaling up of the programme, there was a significant increase in the number of employees participating in improvement projects. This has given exposure to a large set of employees on improvement tools and methodologies. The employee participation in improvement projects has significantly gone up from <10% earlier to 22% (in FY23) and 45% (in FY24).

To get a step jump in certain key areas, Nelco leveraged the learnings from various group companies across sectors and contextualised them to its business needs. TBExG enabled 15 such best practice sharing sessions. Nelco has implemented 8 practices from across 11 Tata companies on the areas of Competency Management Framework, Measuring Training Effectiveness, Project Marketplace, and Integrated Project Management Framework. The engagement with such a wide set of group companies was truly enriching and has helped the company to build an improvement culture and strengthen competitiveness across areas within the organisation. To touch base with the best, agnostic of the industry, has become an ideology and a mindset shift in the company.

Nelco has also implemented transformative approaches of learning like Digital Reverse Mentoring and Project Marketplace within the organisation. The early indicator NPS model which consolidates customer feedback from multiple sources is generating insights at an overall and customer level, enabling the company to proactively enhance customer centricity. An objective Competency Management framework has been implemented for identification, proficiency-level assessment and building competencies for current and future growth. The Competitive Intelligence framework, which is curated and customised for Nelco’s business context is delivering valuable insights, both for existing and emerging competitors.

The improvement projects are giving significant KPI impact in the respective areas. At an aggregated level, these improvements will also help in improving EBITDA levels and strengthening Nelco’s competitiveness in the emerging competitive scenario. Some of the areas which saw significant impact as a result of these projects are:

  1. 25%+ saving in logistics cost
  2. 35% reduction in planned downtime for satellite hubs
  3. Improvement in overall hub uptime
  4. 20% saving in Field Support Cost (in progress)
  5. 25% saving in cost of migration and 40% saving in time with a low-cost model for quick migration of VSATs from one satellite to another
  6. Zero Stock-out with 20% less inventory for AMC spares (in progress)

Charting the Next Course

Continuous improvement is an ongoing effort to improve all aspects of an organisation including processes, products, and services. While the improvements may vary in impact, the key is to have initiatives across the organisation realise the benefits of an aggregated effort by all the teams and employees. Nelco has started on the right path and aims to continue these efforts going ahead.

The continuous improvement programme was curated to institutionalise a framework where employees actively contribute to identifying and implementing enhancements, build capabilities, and ingrain sustained excellence in the context of evolving business environment, challenges, and opportunities.

Each of the projects in the ‘Enhance-a-thon’ programme has brought in immense learnings. While the capabilities built on improvement tools and methodologies are enabling the functions at multiple levels, Nelco plans to continue ‘Enhance-a-thon’ as a holistic continuous improvement organisation-wide programme and take up projects of strategic and operational significance under this framework.

EDGE Impact stories highlight the positive transformations accomplished by Tata companies in their business processes through interventions such as deep dive diagnostics and best practice implementations, in collaboration with Tata Business Excellence Group (TBExG).


There is a lot of positive impact in the organisation because of the engagement with TBExG, which brings in tremendous amount of knowledge and experience. The company has been able to truly leverage the learnings and has embarked on a journey to build future ready processes and culture. All the projects are well on their way to demonstrate their intended objectives. The company has been able to leapfrog in many areas, truly leveraging the advantage of being a Tata company and looks forward to contributing to other companies by the practices it embeds.

— P J Nath, Managing Director & CEO, Nelco