Your Software Is Only As Good As Your Data, But Your Data Is Only As Good As Your Process
As we continue to work with companies in the logistics and last-mile delivery sector, there is one inescapable rule that has yet to be broken. Regardless of how big your company is, or the size of your market, your process is more important than technology. Even the best software will eventually bow to the authority of process — every time.
The Proof Is In The Delivery
Consider your typical delivery company. They have a standard proof of delivery software solution that is tracking each arrival, each pickup, departure, and delivery. If you look at their reports and graphs, you will see data validating where each driver has been, what they have picked up, and what remains outstanding. Good enough.
But look closer.
How about going on a ride-along with one of the drivers? Then what do you see? Say you are the COO or Director of Logistics, but you decide to sit in the passenger seat like an episode of Undercover Boss. What sort of habits and actual practices will you find?
First, you notice that your driver shows up to multiple stops only to ask the customer, “Do you have anything to pick up today?” Oddly enough, 6 of them smile and say, “nothing today.” Hmmm, then why did we drive out here, you wonder? Pulling away from yet another stop with no pickup you wonder, “Shouldn’t there be a way that these contracted customers notify us if they have a pickup, rather than routinely driving by every time? How much time and gas are we wasting each day?”
Next, you notice that when your driver does pick up an item, they flippantly skip through a few screens of checklists, tapping at random on their mobile device. Aren’t those checklists supposed to be collecting valuable customer data for your weekly reports?
Clearing your throat, you ask, “Shouldn’t those checklists be answered a little more carefully?” “Nah, they just slow things down. I always tap the quickest answer anyway. I don’t think anybody even reads these, do you?” You slouch lower in your seat.
The Relationship Between Process, Data Collection & Software
So, what do we learn from this little example?
That even the best software is no match for broken process. There are unavoidable facts that every logistics company must reckon with.
- Mobile software is only as good as the data you are collecting
- Your data is only as good as your process
New software on a broken process is a Snoopy band-aid on a spiral fracture. It’s cute but pathetically ineffective. Instead of placing all your hope in new software, the more productive route is to invest in software that supports the right process.
In fact, in chatting with one of our more recent customers, she commented on their experience and the importance of both process and technology working together:
You are not going to win without technology. But, along with skill set and training, a good product must be managed by a sound process that is supported by good technology.
There it is. The expectations and practices carried out by drivers, warehouse workers, and technicians become the foundational layer for any data that is collected or software purchased.
So, the qualifying question that every company must ask is not, “have we budgeted money for this software,” but “have we budgeted the effort for this change?”