Improving the flow of work

The Olympus Mobility product development team is a multi-disciplinary team with backend developers, a web developer, mobile app developer, product designer and with the CTO and CEO sharing the product management role.

We’re building the Olympus Mobility platform and also work with KBC Group to integrate our services in the KBC Mobile Banking app.

At the beginning of 2022 the product development team decided that it wanted to deliver faster because it had become harder to meet release dates. We wanted to take a step back to find out what was going on and find ways to improve.

1. Visualise work

Work Item Level

First, we figured out how to get useful data about the work done and found ways to visualise the last month’s work with the hope that it could lead us to insights.

We started looking at work item level and exported data from JIRA. A work item can be a story or a bug.

We exported the cycle time for work items for our delivery process for the period between the 1st of October 2021 and 15th of April 2022. Cycle time is the time that a work item spends as work in progress within a predefined set of process boundaries. As process boundaries we took the moment a developer picks up a work item for implementation until it is finished and ready to deploy to production. This includes time to implement the work item, have a peer review and a QA stage. We focussed on this part of the process because the people in the team felt stressed out because of the workload, context switching and lack of focus and we had reliable data.

The cycle time we calculated didn’t include the deployment to production itself because that happened every two weeks and it wasn’t tracked in JIRA with a separate workflow state.

The cycle time for all our feature work is visualised here in a cycle time scatter plot [1]:

In a cycle time scatter plot every dot represents a work item. The horizontal axis on the chart indicates when the work item was completed. The vertical axis indicates how long the work item spent in progress within the process boundaries we’ve chosen. In this plot we chose days as the unit of time.

What this chart shows us is that 50% of the work items that were completed between the 1st of October 2021 and 15th of April 2022 were completed within 3 days. 85% of all work items were completed within 11 days and 95% of the items were completed within 32 days.

The less variability there is in cycle time the more predictable you are as a team and in our case we think that 85% of work items completed in 11 days doesn’t look bad at all. 

The learnings we took from this exercise:

  • We should pay attention when ‘in progress’ work items cross the 8 – 10 days of age because it looks like once they cross this threshold they often stay in progress for a long time. We need to pay more attention to work item age and act to prevent long cycle times.
  • We can also look into the outliers to find out why they took so long and find out if they have something in common that we need to pay attention to.
  • In general we are very pleased with the cycle time of individual work items for this part of our product development process and we don’t think we need to dig any deeper right now.

Feature level

Next we looked one level up to the feature level. With a feature we mean a larger deliverable that needs many work items to be completed before delivering value. Some  examples of features are: extend our mobile app to let users use a car sharing service or order a train ticket.

The team felt that they were working on many things at the same time and when we looked at the data this is what we found:

  • In October 2021 we worked on 5 features in parallel
  • In November 2021 we worked on 4 features in parallel but 2 of the features were new ones. For 3 of the features that we worked on in October we paused the work.
  • In December 2021 we worked on 6 features in parallel, luckily none of them were newly started.
  • In January 2022 we also worked on 5 features, none of them new.
  • In February 2022 we worked on 8 features in parallel of which 3 were new.
  • In March 2022 we worked on 8 features in parallel.
  • In April 2022 we also worked on 8 features in parallel.

We were working on more features in parallel than we had people in the team during this timeframe (7 people were part of the product development team).

So although the team did a great job at finishing individual work items we worked on many features in parallel which resulted in a long cycle time for each of the individual features.

My expectation was that we would have a low flow efficiency for the individual features due to lots of context switching. Flow efficiency for a feature is the ratio of the total active time a feature was worked on to the cycle time it took to complete the feature.

For example, if a feature took 10 days to complete but it only required 2 days of active work the flow efficiency is 20%. It means that the work spent 8 days in some inactive state.

Flow efficiency is often difficult to measure because it means we need to be able to distinguish active from inactive time. If your workflow has wait states in between every state, for example ‘development in progress’ → ‘waiting for review’ → ‘review’, and the state changes are kept up-to-date reasonably well you can calculate flow efficiency. Our workflow doesn’t have wait states but we are required to do time tracking for accounting purposes. This means we track daily how much time we spent per feature and this allows us to measure flow efficiency quite accurately.

So based on these worklogs / timesheets we were able to both calculate flow efficiency for every feature and visualise how we spent our time as a team [2]:

The image above shows a Gantt chart which is often misused to represent a project plan. Misused, because Gantt charts are typically created before the work starts. However during the product development process we still learn new things that affect the work that needs to be done and so laying out a detailed plan and estimating how long it will take beforehand is hardly ever accurate. The project plan also typically assumes 100% flow efficiency which is almost never the case.

The Gantt chart that I show here represents how we actually spent our time as a team based on the work logs. It is not at all how a predefined project plan typically looks like.

Each line in the chart represents a different feature we worked on. For the purpose of this blog post the actual feature descriptions have been renamed to generic values ‘Feature 1’, ‘Feature 2’,… If a day is coloured for a feature it means at least someone in the team logged time on the feature. It shows really well how scattered our time was spent and how it increases the cycle time for each of the features. You can see this by the many gaps and a lot of context switching.

The flow efficiency for these features for this time frame is, sorted ascending: 7%, 9%, 12%, 14%, 16%, 22%, 36%, 53%. This is because on average, things are waiting somewhere 4 times more than they’re being actively worked on!

On top of this, one stream of work that isn’t visible in the drawing is operational support. The team spent 25% of its time on unplanned work to support the operations team or help answering questions from customers or fix bugs.

As you can imagine, the team was very busy and we had a very high resource utilisation but a low flow efficiency. As a result, delivering value to our customers took longer than it should and the feeling of being overwhelmed was high due to constant context switching and feeling busy all the time without time to recover.

Some reasons why we worked on so many features at the same time:

  • Features got pushed to the team instead of pulled by the team when they were ready for new work. The reason features got pushed to the team was because release dates were agreed with partners when the work wasn’t clear yet and without leaving enough slack time for unplanned work. When a feature was agreed to be delivered 6 months from now and after 3 months a new customer wanted to sign a contract but really needed an extension to our platform it became the same priority as the planned feature and it was pushed to the team. This is totally understandable (we like new customers!) but to make it less stressful for our small team we should have left some slack in the schedule to be able to cope with unplanned requests in a sustainable way and not fill the schedule for months upfront.
  • Features got paused because some partners have release cycles with predefined dates. If a feature was almost but not completely ready for release on the predefined date it was only up for the next release in 3 months time. This meant that even when only one more week was needed to complete the feature it went dormant for almost 3 months until the partner’s release schedule allowed it to pick it up again to do final integration tests and release it. These fixed release schedules mean we unnecessarily delay bringing value to our users and also results in more work in progress and secondary needs (context switching, new people are put on the product after 3 months which lack context and need more guidance,…).

Gathering metrics and visualising the work helped us to realise something needed to change. It was clear that there was a big opportunity to deliver value sooner and with lower stress for the team.

2. Stabilise

The first thing we decided as a team was that we should first finish what we were working on and not start anything new unless we needed to meet an earlier agreed release date. 

In the following weeks and months we were actually able to finalise most of the ‘work in progress’ features and make them available to our users which was very welcome.

In an ideal world we would work with the team on as few features or topics as feasible and focus on releasing the value to our users as soon as possible with good quality and learn from feedback. Once the team is ready for new work we decide what’s the next most important or impactful topic and we repeat. Deciding as late as possible about the next priority means we have the most context to decide what’s the most important at the moment we are ready to pick up new work.

Unfortunately we can’t always stick to this ideal way of working because we work with partners who want to commit to release dates and intermediate milestones (e.g. integration testing phase) long beforehand so we don’t always have the freedom to decide as late as possible what’s the next most important thing to work on. We need to live with these constraints and what we’ll try in this case is:

  • take past cycle times for features into account to try to get to a realistic release date
  • prioritise the work with predefined release dates first so we’ll have a high change of meeting the external constraints without too much stress
  • be cautious of new work getting pushed to the team. Switch to pulling of work when something finishes as the default mode of operation

This should result in positive outcomes for both our team (deliver with quality and without much stress) and our partners (Olympus Mobility is reliable and is meeting release dates).

3. Test case: VAB one-off breakdown assistance

Soon after we came up with our findings and actions described in the previous two sections at the end of April 2022 a new release date came in sight which was already agreed upon at the end of 2021. We committed to bring the one-off breakdown assistance (OOBA) product by VAB to the KBC Mobile Banking app.

OOBA is a product that allows car drivers to get help when their car breaks down.

By the end of April 2022 the discovery phase (or Fuzzy front end phase) for OOBA was finished and we were expected to be ready with the development by the 16th of July 2022. This marked the start of the end-to-end integration test phase. The integration test phase was followed by pen tests on the 15th of August, a pilot release on the 31th of August and finally a public release on the 12th of September 2022.

We decided to let a small multi-disciplinary team focus on building the product. We thought this was the option with the best chance of getting the delivery of OOBA ready by the 16th of July.

The team started its first work item on the 12th of May and also introduced some practices which helped us meet the release dates and which I’ll describe in the next paragraphs.

We made sure we got faster feedback by introducing concurrent development. Backend and frontend developers started and worked together to get a functioning end-to-end slice ready as soon as feasible. This involved starting with API’s which returned mock content which got replaced by the real implementation as backend development progressed.

Implementing the end-to-end functionality also included integration with external parties (VAB and KBC) as soon as we could. We didn’t wait until the planned integration test phase that was scheduled months later. This all with the purpose of spotting possible integration issues sooner and to be able to finish work items and not postpone feedback.

Once some work was ready to demo we showed it at our weekly status meeting with all stakeholders. This was much appreciated and gave us valuable feedback which we often could incorporate by the next meeting.

During our daily status meeting with the Olympus Mobility team we focussed on removing blockers to prevent work from aging. We focussed on finishing what already started before starting anything new.

The ability to focus and the introduction of the practices described earlier resulted in a cycle time of 7 days for 85% of the work items and 10 days for 95% of the work items. Compared to what we showed for the period 1st of October 2021 – 15th of April 2022 the cycle time improved and we have less variation which means we are more predictable. The flow efficiency for the OOBA work ended up being 60%.

Mid may 2022 we also switched from our biweekly releases to Continuous Delivery (CD) for our backend and web developments. Each developer became responsible to deploy their changes to production. The cycle time for OOBA above includes deploying the changes for work items to production. Switching to CD saves us about a half a day every two weeks that we needed to deploy all changes to production in bulk. By introducing CD, we deliver value to users sooner and it has no negative impact on our availability.

We did organise our team for fast flow but we were also hugely dependent on the support of the partners we integrated with, VAB and KBC. It’s only thanks to their fast response time and feedback when debugging integration issues that we could meet these challenging release dates.

We met the release dates and the OOBA product is available from the 12th of September 2022 in the KBC Mobile Banking app. Delivering OOBA was definitely considered a success both for the product development team and the stakeholders. We are taking the learnings from the JIRA data and the process changes with us when planning and delivering future product initiatives and we’ll continue to inspect and adapt to keep improving the speed and quality of the mobility services we deliver to our users.

Copying these practices might not give the same results in your product development context but it might give you some inspiration on how to evaluate and if needed improve flow. Thanks for reading.

[1] : The cycle time scatter plot was created using the jira-agile-metrics github project. It provides data that gives more insight compared to what you get out of JIRA without additional extensions or apps. You get for example percentile data about cycle times which is important as cycle time data doesn’t have a normal distribution and so the averages Jira provides aren’t helpful. Generating the data is easy but cleaning the data took quite a bit of time. We for example had work items that were used for time tracking outside of the software delivery process and which went from Todo → Done without going through the actual workflow. These and other tickets needed to get filtered to get more accurate results. Take this in mind when trying to come up with useful metrics.

[2] : The flow efficiency calculations and the Gantt chart are generated using the work-exposure github project.

Author: Kristof Adriaenssens

Many thanks go out to Tom Stuart and Will Ellis for reviewing the blog post and providing valuable feedback.

If you are interested in shaping the future of mobility, check out our Jobs page.

How to solve the long waiting times for company cars!

Olympus Mobility offers you a sustainable mobility solution that is easy, convenient and affordable:

Why are the waiting times for company cars so long?

It is not difficult to pinpoint the reason behind the long delivery times of cars: it has everything to do with the Coronavirus crisis.

As car dealers were forced to close their shops in 2020, sales reached a low point. This led to a fall in demand from car manufacturers, who in turn reduced their production.

The producers of chips and semiconductors that run our car computers also encountered the same problems. However, they quickly found an equivalent alternative in the market for electronics such as smartphones and game consoles. During the lockdown, demand in this niche market actually rose, and quite significantly.

The car market therefore fell behind in terms of priority. 

  • The shortage of chips and semiconductors disrupted the logistics flow.
  • Deliveries to car manufacturers were delayed.
  • Several factories closed their doors.

The logical consequence thereof? Increasing delivery times and long waiting times for company cars and private cars. The Coronavirus crisis turned out to be, as it were, a semiconductor crisis.

Delivery periods are sometimes as long as two years

To this day, we still feel the effects of the Coronavirus years.

  • Waiting times for company cars vary from six months to two years, depending on the selected make and model.
  • The war in Ukraine is also having an impact.
  • Currently, we are facing interrupted transport routes and a shortage of wiring harnesses, important electrical components in vehicles.

Is there any prospect of improvement? Not really.

This makes matters very complicated for fleet managers in particular: electric and other company cars are not given priority. Waiting times are getting longer and the mobility of your employees is seriously affected by the delays.

Is there a solution?

Of course, there is a solution. Ensuring smooth transport starts with reviewing your current fleet. Working from home has become an integral part of the business world. Many employees are not required to travel to and from work as often anymore. Their company cars are more stationary than moving these days.

Are the leasing contracts at your company about to mature? Then this could be the perfect time to ask yourself, are all those company cars really still necessary? Is there a cheaper alternative?

Sustainable mobility soon emerges as a viable alternative when searching for an equivalent option. This is not surprising, as public and shared transport perfectly meet the mobility needs of your employees.

Compared to the cost of a leased petrol car you can save € 12,300 per year through sustainable mobility.

But in all honesty, the additional administrative burden that comes with that is considerable. One expense report can easily take up several hours to process. We can help with our Olympus App.

It could not be easier or more convenient. With the Olympus app, you get one monthly invoice, while your employees can easily manage their mobility in one app. The administrative simplification can save you as much as € 155 per employee and does not even take an hour of your time.

Looking for a solution for long waiting times for company cars?

Give sustainable mobility a try in your organisation!

Here you can read more about the six steps you should take to help your employees on the road to sustainability.

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Here’s how to save on employee petrol costs

Sustainable mobility

When your employees pay a benefit in kind (BIK), it is difficult as an organisation to reduce the costs of private travel. To save on petrol costs, you can of course tell your employees to change their driving style and remove unnecessary items from their cars, but old habits die hard. With a company car, you keep losing a lot of money.

So how do you cut back? Reduce the costs linked to commuting and business travel. This is easy to do with alternative mobility.

Example in figures

Let’s look at the numbers. In this fictional example, we are travelling from Ghent to Antwerp. We depart from Bevrijdingslaan 288 and arrive at Uitbreidingstraat 2 for a meeting around 9 am.

By car

First of all, we travel this route by petrol car. We drive 62.2 km, with the petrol price at € 2.025 per litre. With a consumption of 6.8 per 100 km, the fuel cost comes to € 17.13. However, that is only one aspect of the total cost. Added to this is the consumption cost (cost of kilometres driven with the leased car, € 24.88) and the parking cost (€ 5).

The result? 1 outbound trip costs € 27.27.

By car

By public transport

That same route can easily be done by public transport. A train ticket from Ghent to Antwerp costs (round trip) €16.60 with a Standard Multi. We also take the bus twice, which costs € 3.40 with a ten-ride card. We covered the last kilometres with a Blue-bike (€ 3.75).

The result? 1 outward trip costs € 14.45.

By public transport

What about loss in time?

A car trip between Ghent and Antwerp takes about 45 minutes, but that is without any traffic jams. Realistically, such a trip takes (at least) 90 minutes.

That is the same as the time required using public transportation. But unlike a car trip, you can actually spend this time usefully, because your hands are free to answer e-mails or prepare for meetings. On top of that, you arrive without having had to deal with the stress of traffic jams.

Time and cost savings

When using public transport you can make optimal use of your time and you save € 12.82 per journey. If you take this route four times a month, you will save € 51.28. This amounts to € 615.36 on an annual basis. For a company with 20 company cars, this comes down to annual savings of € 12,307.20! Your organisation can therefore save a lot of money by implementing alternative means of transport.

Employees can also enjoy discounted rates and take advantage of a smart NMBS algorithm in the Olympus app. Besides saving on petrol costs, you will also significantly reduce your administrative expenses. KPMG and Sweco are already doing it.

Want to learn more about sustainable business mobility? Contact us.

Mobility budget 2.0

The legal mobility budget 2.0 is easier and offers more options

De Croo’s government has announced that all new company cars must be CO2 neutral by 2026 and that the statutory mobility budget will be improved.

What does this mean for companies?

Olympus Mobility explains briefly:

First of all, the standard for CO2 emissions will be based on the WLTP standard as of September 2021. This means that there will be an increase in the permissible CO2 emissions from company cars under pillar 1 up to 120g/km.

This is good news for employees! They would now have more opportunities to buy a smaller and environmentally friendly car under pillar 1 of the statutory mobility budget.

Then there is the abolition of waiting periods for both employers (36 months) and employees (12 months) for the mass introduction of the statutory mobility budget.

There would also be changes in the reimbursement of housing costs. The geographical criterion that the employee must live within a 5 km radius of the workplace would be widened, and the conditions for financing a mortgage would be eased.

Finally, there are also various tax incentives for the electrification of company cars.

E.g., investments in charging stations will benefit from a tax reduction of 45%. This should encourage the electrification of company cars.

With this proposal, the first concrete steps have been taken towards the government’s ambition of making corporate mobility greener!

Please note that this is still a legislative proposal. It still has to be approved by the government and by parliament before it can be implemented. We are confident that this will happen soon!

Staying on the road with Olympus Mobility is easy!

Is mobility an administrative nightmare? Do away with the expense bills!

Is mobility a complex issue for your company? This is very likely the case, since there are so many different mobility options available, e.g. train, tram, bus, metro, shared car, shared bike, etc. These options are also provided by a multitude of companies, including NMBS, De Lijn, MIVB, Tec, cambio, Blue Bike, Velo, Mobit, Swapfiets etc. If you then have to conclude a contract with all these different parties, apply for and process all the subscriptions for the employees separately and deal with all the individual tickets, it will quickly feel like the workload never ends. Then you will also have to deal with the expense bills that end up on your desk, one after the other. Mobility can indeed be an administrative nightmare.

But it does not have to be that way, because everything can be done so much easier. Market leader Olympus Mobility ensures the implementation of your mobility policy. We provide you with a complete and reliable mobility solution that manages your company’s mobility and takes the burden of monitoring mobility budgets completely out of your hands. The app also makes you money! Please read on, because we support this statement with a numerical example.

From expense bill to administrative simplicity with the Mobility app

Employers want to simplify as many processes as possible by digitising them. Olympus Mobility can help you with this, because we excel in everything related to digital mobility management. Olympus Mobility aims to greatly simplify the administrative nightmare inherent to mobility. That is in everyone’s best interest, including the employer and employees.

  • Employees gain access to the Olympus app where they can purchase all single tickets, multi-ride cards, subscriptions, vouchers and/or transport tickets digitally. Interested in a free demo account? Your employees can choose from a wide range of sustainable transport options in complete freedom and simplicity and quickly and easily switch between the existing modes of transport. Another advantage? No prepayment is required from them, thanks to the budget provided.
    The result? Pure time savings, less stress, greater peace of mind, a better work-life balance and increased productivity.
  • If you, as an employer, make the Olympus app available to your employees, the burden of administration associated with mobility will become a thing of the past. No more collecting expense bills. The only administration left to you is to provide your employees with the Olympus app and to set the budgets that will allow them to use alternative means of transport. At the end of the month, you receive a single invoice that makes VAT recovery easy. A number of reports provide you with specific insight into the journeys taken by your employees.
    The result? As a company, you save on costs for tickets and administration. The many mobility contracts and the collection of receipts, tickets and expense bills are finally a thing of the past. What a luxury!

We demonstrate the administrative simplification numerically

Is mobility an administrative nightmare? Unfortunately, that is exactly what it comes down to. Processing and handling of expenses related to mobility require extensive effort from different departments. Below is a brief outline of the process:

  • The employee prepares and submits an expense bill.
  • The manager checks the supporting documents, approves them and forwards his approval to HR.
  • HR then arranges reimbursement through the payroll.

As you can see, many people end up spending hours processing one expense bill.

Below is a detailed and numerical overview of its financial impact.

administration for an expense bill

We calculated the savings for one employee making one journey a month using the Olympus app, and contrast that with the manual processing of an expense bill.

The table below lists the different tasks for processing an expense bill, the number of minutes it takes to process it, and an extrapolation on an annual basis.

  • A total of 342 minutes per year are spent manually processing 12 expense bills (1 per month) from 1 employee. That corresponds to 5.70 hours. At an hourly rate of € 45, that provides a total cost of € 256.50.
  • If the employee uses the Olympus app for journeys, only 51 minutes of administration are spent on it on an annual basis. That corresponds to 0.85 hours, and a cost of € 38.25.
  • The difference of € 218.25 is therefore considerable, as this exercise is based on only one journey per month and for one employee.
detailed example of administrative workload for an expense bill

If we take into account the costs for the implementation of Olympus Mobility, the difference amounts to € 155. This is a considerable amount of money as this exercise is based on only one journey per month and for one employee.

Imagine the savings if you have 20 employees who make 2 or 3 journeys per month!

Just think of all those expense bills required to get kilometres allowances sorted out!

The calculation and payment of the kilometres allowances are time-consuming from an administrative point of view, and there is also room for improvement here.

Many companies encourage their employees to cycle to work by paying them a kilometres allowance. Follow-up and processing are often done using an Excel file. This is not only a time-consuming method, there is also always a risk of errors. The Olympus Mobility platform makes everything so much easier and more accurate.

In a previous blog article, we explained the benefits of kilometre registration, when it is permitted and how kilometre registration works in the Olympus app.

In this blog article, we calculate the time and money saved by handling the kilometres allowance through the Olympus app.

Detail administrative workload for kilometer allowance expense bill

Employees and the employer are involved in the processing of the kilometres allowance.

  • The employee must keep a record of all journeys, both commuting and business travel, and prepare an expense bill of them.
  • The employer must check all this and pass on the final amount to HR for payment.

How do you make child’s play of mobility administration?

The solution? Let your employee keep track of their journeys through the Olympus app. It would also be a relief for them to put an end to all those expense bills required for the administration of their mobility.

  • No more registration of every journey in an Excel file and the time-consuming collection of expense bills.
  • At the end of the month, you receive a clear and concise report with the total kilometres allowance per employee.
  • You can then pass on these reports to the social secretariat, and they take care of the rest.

According to our calculations, you can save as much as € 100 per journey with this method. Do your employees regularly use their own car for business travel? Then can you save a considerable sum of money by using the services of Olympus Mobility!

Ready to save time and money?

Feel free to ask the Mobility Team for more information. We will answer as soon as possible.

Looking forward to seeing you soon.

Want to manage a mobility budget through a single app? Such convenience!

Want to manage a mobility budget through a single app? Such convenience!

  • You can combine the legal mobility budget with an expense budget specifically for business travel.
  • Users also have the option to top up their own private budget if the legal mobility budget is not sufficient for their private travel.
  • No ambiguity for passes from De Lijn and/or NMBS. After all, these can only be used on the specific budget from which they are purchased.

Advantages of mobility budget management through our platform

It stands to reason that simultaneous management of the mobility budget through a single platform can only be beneficial. We list the most important ones for you.

  • Employers can analyse their costs by budget type and get clear reporting.
  • All expenses incurred on the employer budget (legal mobility, cafeteria or expense budget) will appear on one invoice. This makes processing and recovery of VAT that much easier.
  • Anything users spend through their private budget is not included in the invoice or in the reporting. In doing so we respect the GDPR regulations.

Flexibility and sustainability lead to wellbeing

Is your company also committed to flexibility and sustainability? This can be done in 1.001 different ways. The important thing here is always to consider the employee’s wellbeing.

  • What options do they have in terms of flexibility?
  • Can they freely choose to work at home, in the office or in a co-working space?
  • In what ways can the employee move to the office or co-working space?

Mobility is important for people. Many companies have realised this and have linked their vision of flexibility and sustainability to it. But how do you approach this concretely as an employer? What opportunities are available to offer your employees flexible and sustainable mobility?

Our answer? Manage the mobility budget in one place

Anything becomes possible for those who manage their employees’ mobility budget through our online platform.

How can you as an employer offer flexible and sustainable mobility to your employees?

Cafeteria plan

In a previous blog article on the flexible mobility in a cafeteria plan we already explained how this all works. In addition to integration with SD Worx’s FIP tool, we plan to set up partnerships with other social secretariats and providers of cafeteria plans.

Also read the testimonial from KPMG, where the Olympus Mobility is included in their Flex Reward Plan.

Legal mobility budget

You can use our mobility platform to manage the legal mobility budget, including pillar 2 as pillar 3.

Employees can use our app to access a wide range of alternative means of transport to use in pillar 2. The balance is transferred every month so that on 31/12 you have a clear balance by employee for pillar 3.

Several of our customers have already implemented the mobility budget such as ACV Belgium, G.I.M., etc.

Expense budget

In our blog on expense bills we make clear what costs you save as an employer by using our mobility app. You can provide a specific budget per month or per year, or choose unlimited. Employees will then not see any amount in the app, but they will know that they have to use the app for business travel.

Since it is not necessary for employees to advance the mobility costs, they have an additional incentive to make effective use of the alternative means of transport. Also read the testimonials from Vlaamse Landmaatschappij and Sweco on their policy and vision for sustainable mobility.

Flexible budget for mobility

You can also use the app for commuting. That way, you can encourage employees to travel those distances is a sustainable manner as well.

Teleworking is increasingly becoming the norm. As an employer, it is therefore best to avoid offering standard subscriptions.

Alternatively, you can offer your employees with a digital tool, such as the Olympus app, which he can use to purchase tickets or multi-ride cards for NMBS, De Lijn, MIVB, TEC. Of course, it also allows for easily switching to shared bikes and/or shared cars through the app for the last mile.

Also read the testimonials from Movement.net on sustainable mobility and MediaComm.

And there is more

In addition to managing all these mobility budgets on one platform, you can also allow users to use the Olympus app for private travel. Employees then link their own bank card to the app and load a private budget to purchase tickets and transport tickets at weekends or outside working hours.

For your information, the legal mobility budget does not distinguish between service, commuting and private travel because of its favourable tax regime, which allows for private use. Neither the employer nor employees pay taxes on expenditure in pillar 2 of the legal mobility budget. A solidarity contribution of 38.07% must still be charged on the balance in pillar 3 that you have yet to pay out to the employee.

Manage up to 4 mobility budgets, simultaneously!

We already mentioned this above, but it is worth repeating, because this offer is so powerful. You can simultaneously manage up to 4 different mobility budgets on one app. The Olympus app, of course.

  • You can combine an expense budget specifically for business travel with the legal mobility budget.
  • If the legal mobility budget is not sufficient for private travel, users can top up a private budget themselves.
  • Administratively, everything is squeaky clean as well. If users make a particular transaction, they allocate the cost of the ticket to a particular budget. They can also consult and monitor each budget individually in the app.

All costs in one invoice, how convenient!

Besides flexible management of mobility budgets, there are further benefits of our Olympus app. What do you think about these?

  • Clear reporting: as an employer, you can easily analyse mobility costs by budget type.
  • One invoice: on which you will find all expenses incurred on the employer’s budget – including legal mobility, cafeteria, and expense budgets. Processing and VAT recovery could not be any easier.
  • Privacy first: what users spend through a private budget does not appear on the invoice, nor in the reporting. Privacy and GDPR regulations are 100% respected.

Would you like to learn more about smoother management of your employees’ mobility budget?

Then contact the Olympus Mobility team. We would be happy to answer your questions.

Or request a demo of the Olympus app!

Flexible mobility in your cafeteria plan? Good idea!

Flexible mobility in your cafeteria plan?

At Olympus Mobility, we have noticed that the demand for flexible mobility is growing every day. Employees want to be able to choose their mobility, including their commutes and business travel.

There are currently several ways to offer flexible mobility to your employees, such as the legal mobility budget, expense budget, cafeteria plan, etc.

But why not combine options? Olympus Mobility now also provides the option of including flexible mobility in your cafeteria plan. Your employees are allocated a budget that they can then use for the various means of transport available through the Olympus app. There are many options, by the way, such as the train, tram, bus, metro, shared bike, shared car etc.

Just to clarify a few terms.

1.     What is a cafeteria plan?

Employees put together their own salary package based on a plan prepared by the employer. Specifically, this means giving employees the opportunity to exchange parts of their regular salary (a percentage of the monthly gross salary, a bonus, end-of-year bonus, etc.) for another benefit that is more suited to their wishes and preferences.

2.     Waarom een cafetariaplan?

Why is a cafeteria plan such a good option? Because its introduction creates a win-win situation for the employer and employees.

  • Benefits for employees:
    • Freedom of choice: as an employee, you decide your own salary package
    • Financial benefit: fringe benefits often mean lower social security contributions and taxes
  • Benefits for the employer:
    • Employer branding: a cafeteria plan boosts employer branding, especially in SMEs. As you are undoubtedly aware, this is a factor that should not be underestimated in the war for talent
    • Unchanged salary costs: a cafeteria plan means no additional costs for the employer, and it is cost-neutral. After all, the budget in the cafeteria plan is a conversion of the traditional salary that the employer has to pay out in cash anyway.

Concrete case of flexible mobility through a cafeteria plan

We briefly illustrate the above with a concrete case from our partner-customer, KPMG.

Every KPMG employee can choose a budget for commuting and business travel to spend on mobility options in the Olympus Mobility app. KPMG attaches an incentive to make its employees opt for alternative and flexible mobility.

What does this incentive entail? For every day an employee uses the Olympus app, he or she earns € 10. That amount is added to his or her 13th month and paid out at the end of the year. You can read all about it in our interview with KPMG’s Mobility Manager, Peter Van de Velde.

Integration with the FIP tool of SD Worx

Olympus Mobility realises that the demand for flexible mobility will continue to grow. We are therefore committed to providing even better services to our prospects and customers.

Together with one of our partners, SD Worx, we have been making efforts over the past few months to integrate with the Flex Income Plan (FIP), which is SD Worx’s cafeteria plan. If an employee opts for the Olympus Mobility in the FIP tool, everything is done automatically:

  • the employee receives the information required,
  • an account is created in the Olympus Mobility management portal,
  • and the workload for the employer is minimal.

In doing so, we are committed to digitalisation, automation and sustainability.

Would you like to integrate Olympus Mobility into your cafeteria plan?

And offer your employees the chance of flexible mobility?

Do not hesitate to contact us.

Has the ground been prepared for a reform of corporate mobility practices?

Reforming corporate mobility practices? Statistics do not lie!

The Mo’vid-19 survey by Espaces-Mobilités questioned 3.200 Belgians about their attitude to mobility before and after the crisis. 43% of the participants indicated that they intend to change their mobility habits after the crisis. They think that the reform of corporate mobility practices will mainly favour soft mobility solutions such as bikes, foot bikes and walking. Among the soft mobility solutions, the bike is doing extremely well. It comes as no surprise that Belgians are turning to bikes. 34% of the Mo’vid-19 participants stated they would use a bike or a scooter more often as a means of transport after the crisis. This is something we can only welcome.

The figures published by Cowboy and Billy Bike, among others, to the general public only confirm this trend. The Brussels-based start-up Cowboy markets electric designer bikes and they saw their sales increase by 230%. The shared bikes of Billy Bike have doubled the number of rides taken in recent months. In the business world, too, bicycle rent is on the increase. This is how mobility consultant Cycle Valley came across a new business model for company bikes ‘thanks’ to the Coronavirus crisis: short-term rental (per month). It is absolutely clear that a reform of corporate mobility practices is happening.

The fact that the bike is on the rise has not escaped politicians’ notice. The Flemish Minister of Mobility and Public Works, Lydia Peeters, has put together a sustainable mobility toolbox in response to the findings on mobility in times of crisis. The aim is to encourage the Flemish people to keep on cycling even after the Coronavirus. To this end, she is investing a budget of 3 million euros in, among other things, bike streets, extra bike parking spaces and the widening of bike and walking paths, and pedestrian crossings. This will allow people to stay one and a half metres away from each other.

Working from home is preferred!

The greatest impact on mobility was undeniably the obligation to work from home. Before the Coronavirus crisis, working from home was not yet established in many companies. On the contrary, it was shunned due to mistrust of productivity, or rather lack of productivity, of employees. But eventually it became the new mandatory rule.

The Mov’id-19 survey found that 42% of employees are keen to do more telecommuting in the future. Working from home therefore results in positive reactions. 79% of the participants encourage the promotion and support of working from home.

Employers have also made a significant concession: the tax authorities have allowed a ‘Covid ruling net allowance‘ of 126.94 euros per month for employees who install a home office in Coronavirus times. In addition to this amount, a net fee of 20 euros can be paid for using a private internet connection.

Twitter has also understood that working from home is a keeper. Two weeks ago, Twitter unveiled a revolutionary policy that allows employees to work from home forever, if they prefer! Twitter is already putting the reform of its corporate mobility practices into practice.

In one of our previous blog articles about mobility in the post-Coronavirus era, you read how you could save money as a company by replacing expensive subscription costs with multi-ride cards.

Corporate mobility 2.0 – but how?

The monopoly of the company car as a corporate mobility solution is making way for other forms of flexible mobility. A company car is no longer the showpiece of a salary package for employees. They prefer to spend this budget freely on other, more personalised mobility options. Providing employees with access to a range of alternative transport options gives them an additional opportunity to travel in a flexible manner. This reform of the corporate mobility practices increases efficiency and productivity on the one hand, and reduces stress on the other.

Many employers also see the introduction of mobility budgets as an important asset for their employer branding. The mobility budget allows you to exchange your company car for sustainable alternatives or cash in a tax-friendly manner.

Let’s flatten the mobility curve!

Need support for your corporate mobility transformation? Do you need help in reforming your corporate mobility practices? Have a look at the Olympus Mobility website, or simulate your ideal mobility policy on the Payflip website!

Easy kilometre registration

Easy kilometre registration with the Olympus app

If you use the Olympus Mobility platform, administration is no longer a burden. Our platform and the Olympus App provide an efficient solution to the administrative complexity of mobility. How? By providing a simple kilometre registration and corresponding mileage allowance for each employee. The employee digitally registers both their commute and business travel in the Olympus app. At the end of the month, the employer receives a report with the total amount of the kilometric allowance per employee. It couldn’t be easier.

When is a kilometre allowance allowed?

A kilometre allowance is allowed for both bikes and private cars.

1. Commuting by bike

Is a kilometre allowance provided on sector or company level? Then, as an employer, you can pay your employees a bike allowance.

  • You can reclaim 100% of the bike allowance per kilometre up to a certain amount as deductible business expenses. The bike allowance is exempt from social security contributions.
  • The maximum amount is EUR 0.24 per kilometre, which is indexed and adjusted annually on 1 January.
  • If you, as the employer, grant the maximum fixed cost that is also paid by the government, you are not required to submit any supporting documents.

2. Commuting by private car

If your employee commutes to work using private transport (car, motorcycle, motorbike, etc.), the law does not provide for an obligatory employer’s contribution. If this is provided for in a sectoral collective agreement, the employer is obliged to provide an allowance.

An example is the sociocultural sector (PC 329.01): if an employee commutes by private car, the employer has 2 options:

  • if the employee has to travel a minimum of 3 kilometres, the employer must reimburse 60% of the price of a train ticket for the same distance.
  • the employer can also choose to pay a mileage allowance of up to € 0.3653 per kilometer. This may not be advantageous for the employee, as he or she can only receive €410 tax-free commuting allowance in the case of a cost flat rate. Anything over and above that €410 will be taxed as wages.

In the post-Coronavirus era, commuting by car will certainly be reduced. Factors contributing to this are working part-time, working from home, and the increasing number of journeys made by bike. As an employer, you can optimise the commuting allowance by paying it only for the days when commuting actually takes place. The Olympus App provides a user-friendly and efficient solution.

Easy kilometre registration with the Olympus app, including cyclists

The Olympus app makes kilometre registration very easy.

  • The employer sets the commuting distance and thereby the kilometre allowance in the Olympus management portal. They do so per employee, both for journeys made by bike and for journeys made by private car.
  • The employee registers his/her journeys daily in the Olympus app. The employer can thereby optimise this cost in the event of illness, leave or part-time work.
  • The employee can also track the total kilometres allowance in the Olympus app.
  • At the end of the month, the employer receives a summary of the total allowance that should be paid to the employee.
Eenvoudige kilometerregistratie in de Olympus-app.

3. Kilometre allowance for business travel

A mileage allowance can be paid both for journeys made in a private car and in a cafeteria car – a company car without a fuel card.

Business travel with a private car or cafeteria car

The rules to be followed are rather cumbersome. You can also pay your employee a kilometre allowance for business travel, even if they travel with their own car. The employee can choose between the fixed costs and actual costs. Keeping track of these actual costs requires constant vigilance.

  • The fixed cost of the kilometres allowance is currently € 0.3653 and is adjusted annually on 1 July.
  • The amount per kilometre is a maximum amount. The employer may choose to apply a lower amount per kilometre.
  • If the employer grants the maximum fixed cost that is also paid by the government, the employer is not required to submit any supporting documents.
  • The kilometres allowance for business travel is not taxable. No social security contributions are deducted from the allowance either.

The Olympus app for easy kilometre registration

The Olympus app allows you to set a different rate for a cafeteria car without a fuel card and a private car.

  • The employer provides the employee with access to the kilometre registration for business travel purposes.
  • Business travel is then registered in the Olympus app, which is user-friendly and simple to use.
  • After entering the place of departure and destination, the app automatically calculates the distance.
  • At the end of the month, the employer receives a summary of the total allowance that should be paid to the employee.
Olympus Mobility zorgt ook voor een eenvoudige kilometerregistratie.

One Mobility-tool to solve them all

In post-Coronavirus times, companies are confronted even more than before with the variability in the use of mobility by their employees.

  • Each employee has his/her own mobility modes that differ individually.
  • A cafeteria plan traditionally offers many choices.
  • Some are now opting for a mobility budget, and that too is something else.

Olympus Mobility meets the demands made by companies to give their employees freedom of choice. Simultaneously, it wants to offer simplicity in handling the complex issue of mobility and provide companies with an improved insight into the true costs of all this. Looking for a simple kilometre registration? With our Mobility tool, you are on the right track right away.

Would you like more information? Is there anything we can help you with? Do not hesitate to contact us.

Multi-ride card or subscription? The Mobility app makes that choice very simple

In post-Coronavirus times, employees will no longer travel back and forth to work every day. In fact, they will often be absent from the workplace for several days because of working from home, part-time or satellite work. Many of them have also discovered the joy of cycling during the Coronavirus period. For these employees, a classic public transport subscription is not always the best solution anymore. We will check the best option for you, a multi-ride card or a subscription?

We will already give you a hint. The Olympus mobility solution often proves to be the best. It offers digital multi-ride cards from De Lijn, NMBS, MIVB and TEC, and always in a user-friendly way.

Read below how to purchase multi-ride cards through the Olympus app and when they are more advantageous than a subscription.

Telecommuting becomes the norm

The Coronavirus crisis has forced many companies to allow their employees to telecommute. It has shown that working from home is both possible and even efficient.

At Olympus Mobility, we believe that telecommuting will remain the norm for a long time to come. It will certainly become fully established in our society. Employees who are allowed to work from home two or three days a week will be much happier, simply because they will save time by not having to commute. This is a good thing, because everyone knows that happy employees are more productive and that a company can only benefit from this.

This shift already offers opportunities to reconsider the high mobility cost of commuting. At present, companies often opt for a subscription formula. But is it always the most beneficial option? The choice between a multi-ride card or subscription is no longer automatically in the latter’s favour.

Employees who used to travel the same route five days a week benefited from a subscription formula. This also used to be the best choice for the employer in terms of costs. In post-Coronavirus times, however, multi-ride cards such as ten-ride cards can be a better option than a subscription, and optimise mobility costs.

Which is the most advantageous, a multi-ride card or a subscription?

We calculated it for you below.

1. Multi-ride card or subscription for employees who take De Lijn buses and trams in Flanders

A monthly subscription to De Lijn costs €49. By purchasing De Lijn m-cards in the Olympus app, you can save up to 27% in one month, provided that you do not have to travel to work two days a week. Telecommuting thus offers an optimisation of mobility costs.

Cijfervoorbeeld meerrittenkaart of abonnement

It is important to note that it is not only working from home that can reduce the need to commute by public transport, but also working part-time, travelling by bike and satellite working.

Below are a few screenshots taken from the purchase of an m-card in the Olympus app, which is intended for ten rides.

Meerrittenkaart of abonnement, de Olympus-app berekent het voor jou!

2. Multi-ride card or subscription for employees taking the MIVB metro, tram or bus in Brussels

At MIVB, a subscription is slightly more expensive compared to a multi-ride card than in comparison with De Lijn. The total savings can therefore be as much as 31%.

Cijfervoorbeeld meerrittenkaart of abonnement

Below are a few screenshots taken from the purchase of Jump10 in the Olympus app. You immediately notice how economical it is in comparison to a subscription.

Jump 10

3. Multi-ride card or subscription for the train commuters?

A train pass is relatively cheap and almost always the best option. Especially if, as an employer, you make use of NMBS’s third-party payer scheme and fully cover the cost of the train pass. The government will then refund you 20% of the cost of the subscription.

Whether a multi-ride card is cheaper than a subscription depends on the commuting distance. In the case of two non-commuter days, a multi-ride ticket is only cheaper from a distance of more than 100 km.

A multi-ride ticket is thus only more favourable than a season ticket for people travelling from the coast to Brussels.

One Mobility-tool to solve them all

In post-Coronavirus times, companies are confronted even more than before with the variability in the use of mobility by their employees.

  • Each employee has his/her own mobility modes that differ individually.
  • A cafeteria plan traditionally offers many choices.
  • Some are now opting for a mobility budget, and that too is something else.

Olympus Mobility meets the demands made by companies to give their employees freedom of choice. Simultaneously, it wants to offer simplicity in handling the complex issue of mobility and provide companies with an improved insight into the true costs of all this. Multi-ride card or subscription? Our Mobility tool immediately shows you the difference in cost price.

Would you like more information? Is there something we can help you with? Do not hesitate to contact us.