Case Study:Idemitsu Kosan Co.,Ltd.

Facilitating the use of IT tools through close support with user departments
Resulting in genuine company-wide productivity improvement

ChallengesContribute to productivity improvement of user departments by increasing the use of IT tools
ResultsIdentify the root cause of issues through analytic discussion, then implement a user-based solution plan
ChallengesCarry out an innovation project without stalling even during the COVID-19 pandemic
ResultsHold an effective workshop with all relevant parties by taking advantage of the benefits of an online conference system


Productivity improvement by the Information Systems Department

Idemitsu Kosan Co.,Ltd. was established as an oil distributor in 1911. As a result of business integration with Showa Shell Sekiyu K.K. in April 2019, the group's sales totaled over 6 trillion yen with over 13,000 employees. There are about 6,400 service stations. In addition to the refinement and sale of petroleum products, it is also engaged in the development of resources such as oilfields and mines, and the renewable energy business. In recent years, the company has developed and manufactured cutting-edge materials such as organic EL materials, too.

The company's Information Systems (IS) Department has introduced a variety of IT tools, including mission-critical systems, an office system, cloud storage, and workflow systems used by employees. However, these tools have not been fully utilized in user departments such as the head office, sales branches and plants. Takayoshi Sawai, Manager of the IT Promotion Section, Information Systems Department, explains the To-Be status of the IS Department;
"In the past, the main idea was to improve overall efficiency through a unified system. However, just simply standardizing business operations and implementing systems at once does not improve productivity. Rather, it is important to consider the situation and feelings of each employee, select the most appropriate IT tool for each workplace, and set an environment where employees can use IT tools comfortably."

Takayoshi Sawai (Manager, IT Promotion Section, Information Systems Department, Idemitsu Kosan Co.,Ltd.) Takayoshi Sawai
Manager, IT Promotion Section
Information Systems Department
Idemitsu Kosan Co.,Ltd.


"Field Innovation" befitting for Idemitsu Kosan

In order to improve user productivity by promoting the use of IT tools, the company has been providing on-site support where members of IT support departments are distributed close to user workplaces since May 2019, in addition to conventional inquiry support. It actively promotes better use of IT on the user side. Still, it was found that the use of IT tools was completely different in each department. Masakazu Shibamoto, Team Leader of the IT Promotion Section, Information Systems Department, said, "For example, the progress of paperless activity, one of our goals, varied from department to department. In some cases, they weren't aware of what tools were available to them in the first place."

Masakazu Shibamoto (Team Leader, IT Promotion Section, Information Systems Department, Idemitsu Kosan Co.,Ltd.) Masakazu Shibamoto
Team Leader, IT Promotion Section
Information Systems Department
Idemitsu Kosan Co.,Ltd.

The company decided to adopt “Field Innovation” to further enhance its support operations and increase user productivity. Sawai explains how this happened. "The concept advocated by Fujitsu to 'Clarify issues from the viewpoint of field operations and work together with people in the field to make improvements' was very close to what I was aiming for."

In order to grasp the reality of IT tool utilization, as a first step, a user questionnaire was designed in detail, and after the results were analyzed, the important points were extracted together with Field Innovators (FIers). Kaori Iijima, of the IT Promotion Section, Information Systems Department, said, "This was still before the COVID-19 pandemic, so we gathered to discuss the questionnaire items every week by having FIers point out what we wanted to find out through these questions and finally completed them.”

Kaori Iijma (IT Promotion Section, Information Systems Department, Idemitsu Kosan Co.,Ltd.) Kaori Iijma
IT Promotion Section
Information Systems Department
Idemitsu Kosan Co.,Ltd.

The total number of responses to the questionnaire reached more than 5,500, which enabled us to grasp the whole picture of user department needs. Sawai said, "We also found that people who had never used support were more dissatisfied. There was a vicious circle in where the more people were dissatisfied with the system, the less people spoke up, thereby becoming even more dissatisfied. "


Continuing online workshops during the COVID-19 pandemic

As a result of the questionnaire analysis, the recognition of IT tool utilization and the communication gap became clear.
In order to delve deeper into the problem, project members interviewed system staff in support departments and user departments, exploring the root causes of the problem before moving on to the next step and creating a solution plan.

Since May, all workshops have been held online. Iijima said, "A little less than 20 people attended at most, and the members who could not participate in the face-to-face workshop in the conference room due to capacity limitations could participate in the online workshop, so there were more opinions."

In this way, three major areas and 25 concrete solutions were selected, and an action plan is now being carried out. Quick win measures have also been implemented, enabling a sequential outcome.

Now, the number of customer calls to the support desk has increased to approximately 4,000 per month compared to 2,000 per month previously. Sawai evaluated this positively. “Contrary to the general idea, we believe the large number of inquiries is proof that support operation innovation has been successful. Users don't have to spend time on FAQs. As a result, the total man-hours required of resolving issues for the entire company will be reduced."

Outlook for the future

Realizing company growth strategies

“IT tools come into their own by being utilized. If they don't use them, we will try to find out why and provide them with something they can use, which is a matter of course.” says Shibamoto as his goal.

Sawai expects that a series of Field Innovations will be part of a methodology to elicit a variety of opinions and suggestions from the field. "If opinions are actively elicited, they will lead to improved company vitality and competitiveness, enabling the organization to become really strong. So, we want to find a way to do that. This time, we believe we have established an improvement process, but are still only halfway. Business is a means to an end, and the real purpose is human growth. Rather than relying solely on technology, I would like to use Field Innovations to create a foundation for human growth."

Target Business Area
Figure 1Idemitsu Kosan has a support desk for user departments. In particular, they have focused on on-site support for system utilization.

Outline of Activity
Figure 2Field Innovation that began with the confirmation of facts through the questionnaire was carried out without interruption from the COVID-19 pandemic through the use of an online conference system.

Stated information is as of the time of the interview.


At the beginning, we were asked by the customer, to help their own way of “Field Innovation”. The customer had clear goals and images of what they wanted to be, but was struggling with how to achieve it.
We had started our support to analyze quantitatively. Through the company-wide questionnaire design and results analysis, all members had seriously discussed the essential challengers on IT support work from the self-responsibility viewpoint. We believe this led to implement appropriate measures and achieve results.
We would like to thank the project owner and all the members for their cooperation.

FIer from the left: Naoyuki Saito, Manabi Sakamoto, Takamasa Anzai

Idemitsu Kosan Co.,Ltd.

Head Office 2-1, Otemachi 1-chome, Chiyoda-ku, Tokyo 100-8321, Japan
Established March 1940 (Start of Business: June 1911)
Capital 168.3 billion yen

出光興産株式会社 様

[ April, 2021]