Logistics Technologies: Five Issues to Consider Before Digitizing Your Supply Chain – Part II

This blog post is a continuation of another post with the same title. That was Part I and this post, obviously, is Part II.

As a reminder, in Part I, we covered these five issues: Change Management, Business Processes vs. IT, ROI & Time to Recover Investment Costs, Integration, and Enterprise vs. Non-Enterprise solutions.

This post will cover training, proprietary solutions, cloud computing, implementation, and cybersecurity.

Without further ado, let’s dive into this post.

  1. Training

Training is another cornerstone of successful implementations. Without comprehensive and detailed planning any implementation will likely fail. So, you should take this seriously. A

critical factor of successful training is to begin the planning of training early in the process.  It should be one of the first steps you take, once you know what your solution will be.

Starting early allows you to identify issues as they arise. It also allows you to make changes – adding or modifying detail as needed. In starting late in the process, you may not have enough resources (personnel, time, and money) to fully address all your training requirements.

Finally, you should do training transparently and collaboratively. You should consult with users early and often – periodically is best. That sets expectations as to the value of training and the value of your stakeholders. The more input you get, the better. That reduces the chances of omitting something critical.

  1. Proprietary vs. Out-of-the box Solutions

This issue is like the one above. Here you need to address whether a customized, proprietary solution is more appropriate. And this consideration applies to all sizes of business; small, medium, and large. So size is not a factor.

Instead, you must determine whether it makes more sense to spend the time, money, and other resources to develop an “in-house” solution. Do the costs outweigh the benefits of an out-of-the- box solution? If so, then an out-of-the-box solution may suffice.

Finding the answer lies in examining your existing business processes. In addition, it calls for a capabilities analysis of the out-of-the-box solution. The analysis of your business processes and the solution will inform your decision.

Most out-of-the-box solutions have gaps between your needs and your desired capabilities. If only a few gaps exist, the question then becomes whether the out-of-the-box solution is “good enough”.

  1. Cloud vs. Internal hosting

Cloud computing is one of those emerging technologies promising to revolutionize supply chains. The allure of cloud computing is appealing, if not enticing.

It’s appealing because it relieves you of the intricate, behind-the-scenes work of ensuring your IT is operational. It’s like outsourcing your logistics operations to a 3PL. It’s complicated, and it’s hard work because it requires constant attention to detail.

So, hosting your programs and data remotely/offsite may make sense.

The primary benefit is that you can concentrate your resources on your core capabilities. You can focus exclusively on delivering relevant and timely products and services.

One downside to not hosting via the cloud is the dilution of your scarce resources. Why do that when you can outsource that function? Another potential downside is security. Given today’s real threat of cyberattacks, that’s a compelling reality you must consider. You might take on a higher risk by maintaining your data and programs on in-house servers. Which is riskier? To address this issue, you must consider total costs. That means including the cost of cybersecurity.

  1. Implementation

This is where the rubber meets the road. It’s where you put all your planning to the test. Many implementations fail because adequate planning wasn’t done. Implementations also fail, as mentioned previously, because change management was not sufficiently addressed.

Let’s assume neither of these are at issue. You still need to ensure a unified team approach to implementation. That means coordinating and collaborating constantly. It means having situational awareness throughout the process.

Your implementation team, like your supply chain, must be agile. It must be able to pivot on-the-spot to keep everything on track. Implied is the need for solid teamwork and the need for solid leadership.

Leadership during implementations is like an X-factor. It there, it’s present. It’s influential, yet unobtrusive. The main point is leadership must be engaged. It’s a crucial ingredient without which any implementation won’t succeed.

So, successful implementations depend on detailed planning, cohesive teamwork, and engaged leadership.

  1. Cybersecurity

We touched on cybersecurity earlier in considering hosting options. It is evident that companies have not given this issue the attention it deserves. So, you would be well-advised to consider this issue separately. The recent cyber-attacks underscore that point. Whether it’s government-sponsored or rogue cyberhackers, you must address cybersecurity in depth.

If a cyberattack shuts your systems down and compromises your data, you can’t do business. So, it goes without saying, your digitization efforts must address cybersecurity.

The U.S. Government recognizes this new reality and addressed it in its “American Jobs Plan”. The Plan calls for a “Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force” to manage disruptions end-to-end.

So, before digitizing your supply chain, you should take heed of the government’s lead.

Namely, any digitization effort must consider cybersecurity in great depth. In today’s environment, you cannot have digitization without cyber security.

 

Before You Embark on Digitizing Your Supply Chain…

You have many things to consider before launching a technology initiative. Yes, the lure of technology is great, especially in today’s uncertain and volatile times. Often times, tech firms pitch bold promises. They offer hassle-free solutions that deliver speed and ease of use.

But before making the leap, be prudent and check out the landscape – today’s and tomorrow’s.

Doing that entails a good amount of planning and preparation. Here’s the main reason for exercising due diligence. It will give you a decided competitive edge. It will do so, because you will have identified what your automation needs are based on improving your business processes.

Now that you’ve read about these five issues that can affect your technology initiative, consider yourself relatively informed. Let’s set-up a mutually agreed upon time to consider your options – before you lock-in a path ahead.

Contact one of our experts at American Global Logistics today. Or, if you prefer, call 1.404.480.4593 to set up an appointment. Either way, we’re standing by to assist you.