Can You Contain Yourself?


The skills and knowledge required by operational managers is becoming increasingly complex as they have to adapt to a constantly changing set of operational dynamics. They must always be on the lookout for new ways to becomey more accurate, time sensitive and adaptive to change.

Read this article to learn how operational managers can be supported by enabling systems that measure important KPI’s that affect their domain, and be assured that all resources are being optimised in order to maximise gross margins.

The Multifaceted and Broadening Role of Operational Managers

As demands from customers and the need to comply with new regulations and government agendas increase, the role and diversity of skills required by the operational managers has broadened considerably as they wrestle with an ever changing set of operational dynamics.

Their operational processes are driven by the need to reduce costs and meet the customers’ aggressive service level and reporting requirements. Subsequently they need to be assured that warehouse resources are optimised throughout, and picking accuracy and traceability of despatched goods is maintained. Also they need to be kept aware of the costs, risks, resources and constraints involved in the management of the transport fleet, and the capability and availability of the drivers and their vehicles, in order to optimise route planning and deliver goods as quickly and as cost effectively as possible.

Trucks too need to be adaptable to carry a variety of loads, with options for specialised racking fittings and storage capabilities, whilst transport procedures have to ensure conformity to health and safety and regulatory compliance requirements (e.g. hours of service, service scheduling and fuel use reporting).

On the Road – When is a Lorry not a Lorry?

Once on the road the vehicles become a series of moving warehouses with the capability to offload and on-load goods along their route. Transport systems need to be secure and optimised to carry and deliver a multiplicity of products for different customers, sometimes bound for the same destination, sometimes involving multi-stop points across different geographical boundaries.

The lorry is also a mobile office with the capability to prove delivery accuracy, and remotely initiate an invoicing sequence that triggers a fast cash collection cycle, minimising invoice disputes.

To track delivery times and optimise the use of resources managers look to establish the realtime progress of their vehicles, and enable route planning (avoiding traffic hotspots and gas guzzling terrain) in order to maximise fuel usage for every last mile of travel.

Adaptive to these changes, drivers now need to consider the cost caused by every delivery error, wrong turn, or erratic manoeuvre, and be mindful of health and safety regulations which may cause risk to their employer’s reputation and wallet.

The Role of the IT Supplier

IT suppliers need to provide operational managers with the tools to obtain accurate information from a variety of disparate system components that influence decision making and resource allocation and be assured that they are all functioning correctly.

This can be accomplished, for example, by producing a series of dashboards which provide key performance indicators aligned to operational needs, production of SMS alerts, or automated emails to nominated personnel.

The IT provider must be able to fully understand the issues that confront managers and the workings of all the component parts and design the relevant information requirements in order to produce a concise and adaptive reporting mechanism that ensures operational managers are kept up to date, and alerted if key thresholds are breached.

Where legacy systems are involved the provider must have a thorough understanding of their workings and the ability to negotiate with disparate suppliers in order to deliver a cohesive reporting and control solution, which may involve integrating various complex inputs, that is completely transparent to the user.

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