My Idea, Your Idea

‘This was a unique opportunity’

Jean-Luc Otten and Corstiaan Smit are part of a team of five PostNL employees that won the internal idea competition My Idea, Your Idea in 2015. They were given the time and space to work out their own idea: the Parcel and letter machine. There are now 14 of them in Almere, after a development process of less than a year.

How do you look back on this project?

Jean-Luc: “It was a unique opportunity. I’ve worked at PostNL as a driver since 2012. It’s my side job that I do in addition to school - I am studying Portuguese. On the way, I came across all kinds of situations that gave me ideas. I was able to express those in the My Idea, Your Idea competition. I submitted several different ideas, and in the end the Parcel and letter machine won. My idea was to add Track & Trace for letters. Because why can we track parcels and not letters?”

Jean-Luc Otten en Corstiaan Smit

It must have taken some getting used to.

“Oh yeah,” Corstiaan says, “suddenly, we were allowed to present our idea to the Board of Management. We got the opportunity to create something we came up with ourselves. That’s amazing! Entrepreneurship was always in my blood. I love that PostNL spends part of its budget to focus on that.

How was it to come up with everything yourselves?

Jean-Luc and Corstiaan smile. “It was like being on a rollercoaster. We did all the preparations in six months’ time: market research, internal research, an external comparison, determining the topic and the functionalities. Then we selected a supplier and within six months, we produced the first 24 Parcel and letter machines. On 7 October 2016, the first machine was installed in Almere. There are now a total of 14 in the streets.”

Can you explain how the machine works?

“It’s a cross between a parcel locker and a letterbox,” Jean-Luc says. “You can pick up and drop off parcels and mail letters. You receive a notification when the driver deposits your parcel in the machine. The notification contains a personal code with which you can open the door for your parcel. The advantage is that the Parcel and letter machine is nearby and accessible 24 hours a day. We’ve noticed our customers very much appreciate that.”

How was working together?

“That actually went very well from the start,” says Corstiaan. “It was our idea, so we really gave it our all. And you have to in this case, otherwise it would never have worked. The people in our team were from different business units. So we complemented each other in that sense. And everyone had their own network. There were many aspects we knew nothing about, like the purchasing process. But that was okay, because we asked everyone else about it and it worked out. At first it was hard to get colleagues on board. We really had to get them excited about it. That got easier as the project progressed.”

How is the test going?

“It’s a great success! The test will run for all of 2017, but so far the results are very good. We are confident the evaluation will go well.”