With the constant growth of the logistics industry in the technological era, logistics organizations need to keep up or they might lose out. Ensuring that the supply chain operations keep up with the technological growth has become a necessity- the alternative would result in isolated systems that are not only more expensive but hinder transparency and decision-making.
Change can be incredibly difficult and heavily opposed, no matter what the promised benefits are. Identifying areas that need change and improvement is one thing, but making sure that the solution is sustainable is another. All too often, top management tend to skimp over a proper implementation process that takes into account the employees’ needs. It is critical that any technological change is implemented within a supportive infrastructure for the organization to reap maximum benefit.
Thus, it is mandatory for top management to invest in proper planning, open communication (between employees and top management) and training to ease the transition as much as possible. To mitigate any chaos or extra work that comes with implementing technology, we’ve come up six pointers logistics organizations should consider prior to implementing technology.
1. Lightweight Scalable Solutions
Logistics companies are becoming less willing to commit to a long-term, high-cost IT solutions that require them to invest huge sum of capital expenditure in an age of constant technological disruptions. Even if a large investment is committed, there is no guarantee that it would be the best fit for the company in the long term. Regrettably, most companies do not have sufficient budget for other options and are stuck with it.
Lightweight, scalable solutions are easier and faster to deploy. They also offer logistics companies more flexibility to scale up or down depending on the ever-changing volume of deliveries. Companies are also given the freedom to see if the solutions fit and can be easily integrated into their daily operations. Additionally, more companies are far less comfortable with the risk of having to fork out an astronomical amount of money prior to trying it out first.
2. Develop a Clear and Precise Strategy
Organisations must anticipate that their people will resist change. To minimise this friction, having a proper strategy to get their staff familiar with the software and ensure the continued use of it in the long run becomes extremely important.
Prior to implementing the strategies, organizations can first incentivize the staff so that they will be more receptive to the software. One way would be to try to relate the promised benefits of the software to the employees personal workload instead of just highlighting the general statistics and figures. The employees feel appreciated when the top management cares about them beyond just the bottom line. The employees would also be more willing to give you their cooperation and commitment, which is key in making the implementation work.
When it comes to actual strategising, plan for regular staff meetings that would be used as a platform to determine smaller milestones . Doing this gives employees a sense of accomplishment and also prevents them from being overwhelmed. Regular meetings ensure that staff are not only more aware but more involved in the entire process.
It is also important to design a proper timeline that takes into account the varying comfort level employees have with technology, as well as how user-friendly the technology is. Having a proper timeline and assigning specific responsibilities would give the organization and employees a better idea of their progress and if they are on the right track.
3. Managing Expectations
The tricky variable that must be managed carefully is the distance between technical promise and genuine improvement. Users may have already heard the same technical promise one too many times only to be disillusioned when the touted innovations performed far below expectations.
In the process of trying to convince others of implementing change and technology, overselling the solution may do more harm than good. Overselling the benefits of the solution can attribute to the gap between perception and reality. This may later result in the disillusionment and disappoinment of the users who felt that the product delivered less than promised. This is significant because once the employees think that this product is not up to standard, they might cease using it.
4. Employee Ownership
In the decision making process, both the top management and employees should be involved early on. This allows employees to develop “ownership” of the technology, and will not feel as if they are forced it work (especially since they did not have a choice in it). By encouraging employees to develop ownership of the technology, skillful advocates would then internally create a power base to pull (rather than push) the innovation
Starting conversations early on with employees on new technological solutions gives them time to adjust and be comfortable with the idea of new technology. This also helps to ease the transition for employees who may be more opposed to the new technology by slowly introducing the new solution while investing time and effort to ensure that they are comfortable with it.
However, advocacy and employee ownership alone is not sufficient – supplementing advocacy with proper strategies and a supportive environment can go a long way.
5. Generation Gap
Top management wrongly perceive that older employees cannot keep up with new technology and thus, oppose it. This leads them to focus primarily on younger employees instead. Millenials are digital natives- that’s a widely accepted fact. But the older generations are no slouches themselves.
When technology is selected with everyone’s needs and different level of comfort with technology in mind, the entire workforce can be empowered. Instead of focusing on the technological generation gap, organizations need to create a unified learning environment that acknowledges all employees and empowers them with a co-operative and helpful infrastructure and resources. Although older generation might not be as tech-savvy, the experience and the expertise that the older generation has, powered by new technology, is a winning recipe for success.
One way to teach employees that aren’t tech savvy is to leverage familiar modern technology to learn from. As an example, let employees experience technology similar to what they normally use – like Facebook, or Twitter or Candy Crush and incorporate logos and icons and easy-to-use functionality that mirrors these familiar apps. Additionally, it would be incredibly beneficial to choose an app that has a user-friendly modern user interface (UI) and user experience (UX) design. This would be immensely helpful, especially for the older generation. Adopting modern technology with modern UI/UX allows even those that fear technology to be more receptive to it. Leveraging familiar technology allows both the younger and older generation to adapt to new technology faster as they are better able to relate to it.
When it comes to choosing new technology, it is critical to note how the technology partner would roll out training sessions for the staff. Regardless whether a person is 20 or 50 years old, the same old textbook approach – overwhelmingly lengthy single session lectures that bewilder even the most tech-savvy of employees – does not cut it anymore. To add to that, these sessions are a one-size-fits-all for all employees and doesn’t cater to their specific needs would result in employees having to sit through and bear hours of irrelevant content before finally getting to the relevant ones. Lengthy sessions with zero follow-up would mean that the employees will not retain the information, forgetting what they’ve learnt.
It is important to note that employees do not have much time to spend on learning- only about 1% of their typical work week. In a time-pressed work environment, scheduling multiple, spread-out micro-sessions (specifically tailored to the employee’s role) allows them to gather knowledge without being overwhelmed. This sustains their learning over time, allowing them to apply their knowledge on the job.