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Solving operational problems with technology: a five-step plan

Has your business ever adopted a new technology that didn’t deliver the expected benefits? 

New technology doesn’t have to be a problem. Some companies, like Queensland-based Followmont Transport, have a history of successful technology rollouts. What makes the difference? Thinking ahead and committing enough resources to get the job done properly, according to Mark Tobin, Followmont’s CEO. 

“You have to be willing to grab a certain per cent of profit and put it back into making your business a better business,” he says.

Whether you’re looking at vehicle-based safety devices or business management software, it’s worth stepping back from day-to-day operations and decide where you want your business to be heading. Without this technology plan, you risk ending up with a hodge-podge of unconnected systems.

Consider these five steps when solving your operational problems with technology: 

1 What are your goals?
2 Where are your operational problems?
3 What is the right tech?
4 How do you get it into your business?
5 How do you measure success? 

What are your goals? 

Start by spending time working ‘on’ your business rather than ‘in’ your business. What problems do you want to solve for your customers? This could be speedy delivery, transporting fragile or hard-to-move goods, or long-haul transport. Your plan should focus on technologies that will help achieve your goals. 

Where are your operational problems? 

It’s also essential to be clear on what operational problem you’re solving. For example, you want to reduce on-road incidents. Are they occurring because you are experiencing equipment failures? Are scheduling problems causing drivers to take risks? Or are drivers being put in unfamiliar situations or taking on new types of cargo? 

“You’ve got to get your foundations right at the start,” Mark says. “You have to understand your problems before you start thinking about solutions.”

Customer reviews, driver feedback and on-road incidents can give good insight into where things may be going wrong 

What is the right tech?

Once you have a handle on the problem and the business goal, go to market and see what’s available. 

Price is important, but keep the bigger picture in mind. “Don’t go for the low end,” says Mark. Instead, invest in the system that will deliver the results you want in the short term and value over the long-term.

Compatibility is another critical factor. The best solution in the world might not work for you if it can’t share data with your other systems. Also consider ease of use, licencing fees, and the resources and time needed to bring the technology into your business. 

How do you get it into your business?

Successful adoption relies on your team’s ability and willingness to use the tech. 

Mark is a big believer in training and he employs professionals to keep his team up to date. That might not be a practical solution for your business, so take advantage of any training and support your technology vendors might provide. 

 “I’ve seen projects go off track because the organisation didn’t support them, and the staff didn’t understand what they were trying to achieve.” Mark says. 

Training builds ability, and equally important is helping your team adapt to the change. Keep them informed of what’s going on, explain why you’re investing in the tech and show how it will benefit them in their roles. 

How do you know if your new technology is achieving your goals?

Spend some time picking the right metrics and measurements. They might be as simple as fewer on-road incidents or more positive customer feedback. 

Pick metrics you can gather quickly or your technology can give you. Dedicate time every month to look at the data. Regular evaluations will help you identify what’s working well and what needs improving.  

Disclaimer: This disclaimer governs the use of the content of this “Solving Operational Problems with Technology: 5 Step Plan”. The plan is a guide only and is simply meant to provide you with an opportunity to reflect on your technology needs such as vehicle based safety devices or business management software.   Whilst all due care has been taken, you must not rely on the information as an alternative to legal, legislated regulatory and compliance requirements associated with your business activities. NTI.MBOST02.1.23042021

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