Gene Gander, VP Business Development – Americas for WiseTech Global, explains it’s not ‘what’ you implement, but ‘how’ that secures your competitive advantage.
Even if you’re frustrated by the limitations of your existing logistics system, the idea of finding a replacement can be overwhelming. So just start by asking yourself some basic questions. If you had a magic wand, what would you want to change right off the bat? What’s your greatest pain point? And, most importantly, what do your customers want that you can’t provide?
The answers you give will be your top line priorities, and these can be used as a baseline to assess the logistics solution that’s the best fit for your needs.
Once you’ve decided to make the change, moving rapidly to make a decision will bring the greatest benefit. Admittedly there’s a fine line between being swayed by untested, flashy sales talk and overthinking a solution. But any delay in switching to a sophisticated platform that unifies your entire enterprise is unjustifiably expensive. I’ve seen too many companies tie themselves in knots with lengthy gap analyses and slow decision-making processes.
The more you understand your own business and goals, the better equipped you are to match them to the tools you need. Get this right, and you can adopt a confident, rapid implementation that’ll give you a faster return on your efforts. Today’s technologies make this much easier. Not only do they offer a deep and wide selection of content but incredible flexibility with self-service, on-demand Cloud options that help to contain your IT spend.
Try not to chain yourself to historical features and functionality. Talk about your unique business case with potential providers, but try to remain open to change. When you’ve identified the best solution for your company, take a breath and learn the benefits of modern processes for today’s industry. We all know that people like to hold on to what they’re familiar with, but don’t let that resistance turn your new, streamlined software into the frustrating, unproductive mess you once had.
If a feature isn’t where you expect it to be, don’t assume that it’s missing. Open up a dialog with the developer and you may find that it’s been moved, or is now addressed in a way that’s very different to historical systems and practices. And if the product is designed well, you may even discover that manual processes have been entirely automated, and no longer need your intervention or oversight.
Integrated operations need an integrated platform – irrespective of the diversity of the business units within your logistics enterprise. With stakeholders in multiple business units, you’ll probably find yourself under pressure to go down the best-of-breed vs. single system route. But the whole is always greater than the sum. Small concessions by everyone can often be better for the company as a whole.
Don’t let one stakeholder – often from the most profitable area - bully a business decision. This is your opportunity to look at weaker units, such as warehousing, and turn cost centers into profit centers.
Also, don’t spend too much time worrying that competitors might be using the same market-leading system as you. It’s a common misconception that this makes it hard to differentiate your business. Just remember, it’s not what you implement but how you implement it that makes you better than the rest. The trick is to learn everything about your new tools – beyond what you were told it could do in the sales process – and make them work for you.
But above everything, you need to be confident in the partnership you have with your provider. Take a good look at what they’ve delivered in recent times: are they resting on old technology, or are they pushing through innovations that reflect industry standards, compliance and trends? This is a long race and you need to know that they’ll keep up with you for the next 3, 6 or 10 years.
Gene Gander is Vice President Business Development Americas for WiseTech Global
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