Have you Digitized or is your Organization Operating at the Same Efficiency as 20 Years Ago?

In a time of massive evolutions, we hear the same questions from businesses assessing the need for digitization: Why invest in technology or a new platform? Will it really make my team more productive? We have been working the same way for years.

Well, I think we can all agree that YES investments in technology will increase productivity. If you had asked me this question back in the days of greenscreens terminals, I might have had a different answer. Given the technology we had access to back then, we were productive. “Heads down” data entry was most of the workload when it came to systems applications. And we were extremely efficient in doing just that one task: entering data. We were so efficient that, for example, we would enter the data at its origin, creating product detail data. Then at its distribution center where the same data gets entered into a new receiving system—rolling through pages and pages of perforated green bar reports, shear blissfulness with a touch of carpal tunnel. Was there a better way? Why would we change our processes? These questions are still asked in many of today’s organizational strategies, and the answer is: yes, there is a better way, and YES, you should always be improving your processes.

In these green screen days of yore, I recall the first time I got the news that we were no longer writing our ‘Bills of Ladings’ by hand. This was exciting news to me as the person responsible for unloading the trucks at a consolidator and handwriting all the ‘Bill of Ladings’ for all the trailers to be worked on that day. How on earth the people receiving the freight were able to read my chicken scratch handwriting is beyond me to this day, but I digress. Anyway, they wanted me to start entering the data into a brand spanking new “dummy terminal” application. It consisted of a screen with ten fields scattered about it and an Exit, Save, and Menu button. It took no time to associate the field layouts with the bill of lading data, and with the enter button advancing through each field all way through to the Save button, I was able to run through an entire 53′ trailer load in a matter of minutes.

Sounds efficient, right? Wrong! Well, yes, for the era, it was, for the most part. When presented with this same problem today, there are many ways to resolve this timely task issue of double and triple data entry and take the plunge into digitizing your organization with investments in technology. These don’t always need to be large investments, but here are some things to consider when purchasing new platforms:

  1. Invest in SaaS platforms that are driven by data. It’s your data, and you should be able to reap the benefits of having it sliced, diced, analyzed, charted, and presented back to you to make the best possible decisions based on your facts.
  2. The SaaS platform must have open APIs to allow for easy integration to your legacy systems and, more importantly, your customers’ legacy systems. This will resolve double and triple data entry, enable customer access to your/their data sets, and simplify data entry.
  3. The system needs robust collaboration and mobile features. In today’s world, it is no longer an option but a necessity to complete all the same tasks you were responsible for remotely. This includes all types of collaborations, document sharing, and meetings through your laptops and mobile apps. The companion mobile app is necessary for all new SaaS platforms, and it will be hard to find ones that don’t provide mobile access.
  4. Lastly, new investments in technology MUST save you money! The reason you are digitizing is that your employee’s and client’s processes are antiquated. A simple example where centralized platforms will help remove the hidden cost of your team’s time it takes to pull data together, review, update and respond to inquiries. The solution is to provide simplified views and accessibility to data that the platform must provide.    

I hope you enjoyed my walk down memory lane. It’s a simplistic example, but the takeaway is extremely important. The time to invest in technology is now. The world is changing, and old processes that worked 20 years ago will be the processes that keep the door closed to the new opportunities to improve if they are not changed. Choose your technology wisely but do make a choice.

Read the New Voices in Supply Chain blogs here

Written by Tommy Bardinas

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