How to Implement Elastic Logistics without Losing Your Workforce
– Guest Author: Neha Tandon, Business Journalist, TechnologyAdvice
In today’s digital age, the relationship between supply and demand has been transformed from what it initially began as. Once a supplier-focused field, it has become increasingly consumer-centric to the point at which consumer-demands now define the process flow within the supply chain industry.
The consumer is a free radical, however. Unpredictable in nature and uncontrollable, corporate flexibility is not only important but is guaranteed to be well received. From the right software, hardware, e-commerce, warehouse management, and more, facilitating the move to flexible tasks automatically is a necessity for streamlining the leading 21st-century industry powers.
When ‘Elastic’ Logistics is at the center
Elastic logistics is an agile model where the ‘pull’ of consumer demand sets up lead times for deliveries and replenishment. The idea is to react quickly before or just after the demand/need arises. Companies want fast go-to-market distribution with clear tracking and tracing for all moving trucks and merchandise. They want to reduce turnaround times, move more shipments, close down lead times, and serve the end-customer faster.
The name ‘elastic logistics’ itself implies the need for companies to be able to expand and contract easily with the demands of customer/market demand. And that’s what it is, elastic logistics is the new and evolved version of ‘lean supply chain movement’. As technology has caught up with logistics, latest delivery schedule and route planning help companies are on top of all market demand fluctuations and keep their products on shelves at all times or reach the consumer’s door within a day or two.
All tech advances require your own workforce to adopt and use them well. This is where change management comes in. There is always a learning curve; some would take it on easily; for others, it might not be that simple.
If with such automation, you are inclined to buy-in to the latest misgivings about tech-replacing-human-jobs, there is more to it. You don’t have to sacrifice your workforce in the name of automation. In fact, it can only work to your advantage to keep them. According to Forbes reporter and Director of US Sales at the Woodland Group, Jason Shuttleworth, the logistics industry has consistently grown in job availability rates from manual warehouse work to supply chain management, even in times of economic struggle.
Here’s are five change management fundamentals you must keep in mind to ensure your workforce are in-line with your tech advances!
1. Position the change as an opportunity
Technology often offers the opportunity for career progression. Your workforce will change, but it will not be lost as long as it adapts to the changing environment. From truck drivers to operations managers, technology offers the ability to learn something new about it, so that information from it can be used and analyzed properly. Encourage employees to use new strategies by finding a way to allow it to optimize their results.
2. Make it worth it
It is natural for your workforce to feel apprehensive about change. However, slow implementation allows for wasted time, money and resources. Once you decide to upgrade your tech within your logistics set-up, be sure to train all employees on using it in their daily tasks as soon as possible. Having them implement the use of the technology in their daily routine will not only allow for greater respect from your employees but will allow them to grow in their own knowledge.
3. Choose Wisely
Be sure whatever technology or system you are implementing is done so mindfully. Make a list of exactly what organizational benefits each tool provides, and what employee pain points each will resolve. This makes sure you can explain to your employees exactly why you are implementing each tool. You can explain to them easily why you are adding new systems to make their lives easier rather than trying to replace them.
Talk to your employees directly about what the hardest parts of their jobs are to get directly to the source and find a way to make their lives easier. Be sure to also consider what extra resources will be required to make sure any new systems or technology are implemented with the least amount of disruption to your workforce. Big choices and decisions such as these can often leave out some stakeholders, causing more problems than necessary.
4. Have a plan
Build a highly-organized plan to roll out your elastic logistics. You are putting them in place to make your and your employee’s lives easier and more efficient, but oftentimes the implementation process can have an adverse result. We recommend planning out principal dates, distribution levels, training opportunities, and making expectations clear. Use a project management software to help your team organize the human and technological resources you need, and to plan out your expected timelines.
Layout when exactly you will be applying your new systems and when you will require your employees to switch over to the new systems completely. Keep communication open and make sure all your employees are aware of these dates well in advance.
The next step is asking yourself whether or not all of the systems will be deployed at once, or at different times. It may make sense for certain groups or departments to learn or acquire the newer systems than others.
Training is integral. As mentioned earlier, taking this into account is paramount. Remember, some departments or employees may require more training than others. During training, set expectations for how quickly you expect your employees to adopt the new systems, and how they should be using them on a daily basis.
5. Follow up and follow through
Know that after you implement elastic logistics, your work isn’t done. Plan ahead to evaluate the success of your logistics shortly after the launch date, and at points of time in the next several months. Think about ways in which you evaluate the success of your new plan, what you were hoping to gain from it, and what you have gotten from it.
Elastic logistics are one of the several trends of 2018 that are revolutionizing the world of logistics. Now is the time to bring them into your company, and use them to enhance your employee base.
Neha Tandon is a business journalist for TechnologyAdvice. Journalism graduate from Syracuse University, New York, her expertise is primarily in technology reporting, marketing, PR, and advertising.