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Logistics and the Modern World

By Robert Hall, Support Analyst, Marval

 

A few years ago, I was involved in a project (being part of a Supplier firm) designed to enhance the delivery of a wide range of Suppliers’ goods to a well-known Do-It-Yourself retail chain.

The project was huge and involved many people from the retail chain, from director level to project teams and IT staff.

Until that point the company had been relying on spreadsheets and the diligence of the Distribution Centre (DC) staff to keep up-to-date details of the multiple arrivals of goods from all the different Suppliers. A side effect, and to be honest the main driving force behind the project was that the final delivery point of all these goods – the retail stores – often had no idea what was going to be delivered to them, because of two factors:

1) The DCs would not know until the consignments arrived from the suppliers if there were any short deliveries – perhaps due to stock shortage, and

2) The DCs had no time to make the stores aware of any issues from the above.

So, via Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) and a strict timeline for submission of the EDI files, plus a rigid delivery schedule for arrival at the Distribution Centres, a new dawn was achieved. Each Supplier had to submit their delivery manifests according to a rigid schedule, or be refused acceptance, and in return they would be advised of delivery slots, again which had to be adhered to, or the lorry would be turned away.

As a result, the stores could be assured that they knew what was being sent to them allowing for short deliveries, the Distribution Centres had a smoother running operation, and the value chain delivered what was wanted.

That was a break-through point for the organisation. What impressed me though was during an open day, held at a typical on-the-edge-of-town hotel (and there were more than one open days, such was the scope of the project) the senior management were on hand to answer questions and were able to make clear their absolute support for the project. This was obviously filtered down throughout the entire company. The presentations were slick and on point, questions were answered succinctly and competently. They knew their stuff.

When changes are introduced in the organisation, particularly when these changes affect people (both staff and customers), the senior management’s involvement is crucial to let the steam off and facilitate the process. People need to know why the change happens, they need to realise the big picture and the anticipated outcome. Changes, albeit the impact they can have to individuals or small teams, usually lead the way to achieving a greater goal. This is not always clear. People tend to see how the change affects them in short-term and disregard the potential benefits in the future. Perhaps “disregard” is not the right word here. People don’t know the benefits; they need to be informed and have their questions answered. And senior management are the people to do this.

In Service Delivery, change is an ongoing thing. It’s part of our commitment to continual improvement. Sometimes changes are small and nobody really notices any difference; in other cases, changes are extensive and have a direct impact to other people’s work or even their private lives. When such a change is introduced, we need senior management to stand by us and lead the communication part. Their involvement will help accelerate change and increase chances of a smooth and successful outcome. And we also need Marval MSM to keep all stakeholders automatically informed of any update, no matter how big or small. Because a well-informed customer is a satisfied customer.

 

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