You have invested in a sophisticated piece of technology. The manufacturer pledges it will “revolutionize” your entire warehouse operations. The initial expense seemed big but, again, the manufacturer maintains the payoff will be even bigger. If you take full advantage of all its features, the ROI will to dwarf the cost of the investment.
But there are a few problems. You understand the main capabilities of your investment, but far from all. Worse yet, the company which you bought the product from has gone AWOL. And your warehouse employees have not fully embraced the changes about to take place. You know you’re headed toward failure before the project even gets off the ground.
Invest, sponsor, support
In a recent interview with SupplyChain 24/7 about lift truck fleet management, I put it like this: “A lot of customers ask themselves if they are ready to deploy these technologies. You need to be prepared to invest in that change, sponsor it and support it. Don’t expect instant gratification.”
Change management is a critical component in the success of a technological upgrade. With warehouse solutions growing more complex by the month, the need for a sustainable account management relationship that can support change management has never been more crucial.
Beware of plug-and-play
The allure of a plug-and-play relationship with its emphasis on ease of installation and use is understandable, but as the above example illustrates, and as many senior-level executives can attest, it rarely works in the long-term. The investment may enjoy some early success but issues will inevitably surface. As the company gets tired of troubleshooting, it may turn to the provider for help only to discover the provider no longer carries the system.
Consider instead a provider who takes change management seriously, who understands all the stakeholders involved. Service should be your provider’s competitive differentiator. An investment designed to, for example, overhaul your entire fleet management system needs take into account the range of people affected by the new technology - maintenance, operators, IT, and supervisors.
Expect rigorous assessment and follow-ups
The provider should be there to guide the customer through the change, starting as early as pre-sales when an effective assessment of the customer’s needs and the appropriate solutions to meet those needs lays the foundation for success. Top-level service should also include a rigorous pre-implementation process in which everyone’s roles and responsibilities are spelled out and any questions from IT are addressed.
The first 90 days post implementation are especially critical. You should expect the provider to proactively follow up with each site at regular intervals to make sure the integration of the new technology into standard operating procedures is going smoothly and that all parties are staying informed and supportive.
And perhaps, most importantly, your provider should help you realize the full potential of the investment, a necessity for maximizing ROI. Although you intend to use your new piece of technology to primarily, for example, monitor driver behavior, it was likely designed to do so much more. Don’t just go for the “low-hanging fruit,” but take advantage of all its features. It will pay off.