The next step to an agile organization

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The next step to an agile organization

Change is always around the corner, especially in the logistics industry. As a logistic service provider, you cannot keep doing what you have always done. Like explained in my previous blog, it is important for an organization to be agile and to be able to deal with change. As a result of the corona crisis, this is more important than ever. Before, disruptive changes needed a run-up, but the coronavirus has turned the tables and forced you to make instant and extensive changes quickly. Being an IT minded organization helps you to be agile, to anticipate on these changes, and to improve the service to your customers. However, that’s not all. Besides being an IT minded organization, the choices you make affect how agile your organization is and how you can deal with the change forced upon you this period. So, time for action.

Making choices

Being an IT minded organization often brings you advantage over your 3PL competitors. However, that doesn’t automatically mean that you have an agile organization, nor that you are capable to bring your service and performance to the next level. You must also make the right decisions on what software to use, which partners to cooperate with, and which processes to optimize in your business. With all these choices, you must ask yourself: does it make my organization more agile? Does it provide a better service to my customers? And does it improve the performance of my organization?

A matching software solution

It starts with your software. To become an agile organization, the software you use must be agile as well. It must grow with new innovations. This means that your solution must be set up in such a way that adjustments can be made quickly. Preferably by people within your own organization. However, not in the way that actual programming is needed. That would only make the solution unmaintainable. Furthermore, this would increase your dependence on programmers or suppliers while you try to become more flexible. For that reason, so-called ‘low-code’ and ‘no-code’ solutions were founded, with which companies can realize solutions for processes in their organization, independently. Most of these low-code and no-code solutions are generic and widely applicable. The downside is that there are a lot of possibilities, but in the basis there is nothing. You’ll have to start from scratch. In my experience, a lot of companies struggle to realize the solution. People lose themselves in nice-to-haves and suboptimal solutions which hinder them from going live. That is the reason why it is important to choose a matching solution for the branch you are active in. In that way, you don’t have to decide on obvious matters, because this has already been done by others.  

An agile solution

With that in mind, we choose in 2010 to set up our solution in a similar way. Whatever the name of the solution, in the end, it is important that company processes can be shaped easily to your specific wish as is relevant at that moment. Furthermore, it must be possible to make adjustments with minimal effort or dependence on third parties. All without involving developers or developing customized software.

Integrated communication brings you in front

Furthermore, your software must be able to communicate with other systems. Nowadays, we see more and more integrated systems or even fully integrated supply chain networks. Because of the growing role of information, you as an organization must be capable to compete on this level. In short, the better you can communicate with other systems, the further you’re in the lead.

Role of information

The ‘openness of systems’ is also important to gain insights into the performance of your organization and to provide your customers with information when requested. Or even better: to surprise them with relevant data which they haven’t asked for yet. When we look at the predicted role of data in the future, for example, with machine learning  and artificial intelligence, we can again clearly see the importance of technology and data.

Who do you work with?

Choosing what parties to get in bed with is also of great importance. As stated in my previous blog: the time of doing everything on your own is over. You’ll have to make decisions in what you do yourself and what you hand over to other parties. This relates to the choice of a matching software solution. What do you outsource? And what do you handle yourself? Depending on what type of business you are working in, you may choose to integrate your systems with EDI, optimize your processes in your company yourself, or manage relevant information of your company with BI tools.

Grow in your own organization

When you have found the right software partner, you aren’t there yet. Your software may be hypermodern, but when you do not optimize your processes continuously to the changing circumstances, you won’t reach a higher execution. To illustrate: you may have the newest laptop, but when you only use it as a calculator an abacus would have done. You must keep optimizing your processes. That is a continuous process as well.

Focus within your organization

You are IT minded, your software solution is the right match and you have invested in processes that bring your organization to a higher level. Very good! However, there is still an important choice to be made: focus. As a logistics service provider, or any organization for that matter, it is almost impossible to be active on all fronts. Therefore, focus is crucial. You can excel in one specific thing, instead of aiming for a lot of things a little. Again, making choices is of great importance. When doing so, the biggest traps are the choices you make daily. These decisions are often made by employees that do not see the bigger picture, and therefore cannot correctly consider what is or isn’t important. Again, focus and limitations are the basis of success. Johan Cruijff ones said ‘to play soccer well, you need good soccer players. But a good soccer player almost always has a lack of efficiency. He always wants to do it better than strictly necessary’.

Aim for what is strictly necessary

This is also the way Boltrics does its implementations: a clear focus on the goal, which is successfully going live on the planned date. To do so, our consultants focus from the start of the project on matters that are minimally necessary to successfully support the primary processes. By covering that as quickly as possible, there is plenty of time left to focus on the nice-to-haves and the finishing touch in the same period.

Focus on the essence

Strive for growth and change, but focus on cases that add value. Ask yourself: does this adjustment make my organization more agile, or am I digging a hole for myself? Or, does this increase the performance of my organization, so that I can do more with fewer people, quicker and more efficient? In other words, change is necessary, and choices must be made. It is up to you to make the right choices. Good luck!

Posted by
Jan-Cornell van Ekris