At its core, rolling out a real-time transportation visibility platform – or any enterprise technology, for that matter – is both a change management project and a leadership opportunity. By focusing on the people, process and technology as three critical legs of the solution, a good business leader can overcome just about any challenge that’s thrown their way. Likewise, a technology platform that truly adds value to the enterprise shouldn’t be limited to only one team, department or function if it shows promise elsewhere within the organization.
I was recently reading through our latest Gartner Peer Insights reviews, when I noticed one theme cropping up time and time again. When asked the question – “If you could start over, what would your organization do differently?” – many FourKites users responded by saying they would have focused more on expanding the adoption of FourKites internally throughout the organization, rather than just within their own departments.
It occurs to me that this is not a problem that’s limited to supply chain visibility technology, or even to the supply chain industry as a whole. Every company can benefit from a streamlined process for rolling out new technologies and achieving strong internal buy-in right off the bat. So I thought I’d take the opportunity to pull together some of the tactics and tricks I’ve seen from working with the rockstar Fortune 100 leaders who make up FourKites’ global customer base.
“Understand where your supply chain digital strategy is going in your company, and tightly link a visibility tool with that effort. Visibility and the associated data can be a key component as part of the digital strategy.”
– Supply Chain Architect, Eastman Chemical Company, Gartner Peer Insights
The pace at which new tools and technologies have become available for large enterprises is increasing faster than ever. This has made it more of a priority to make quick decisions when it comes to choosing new technologies that will carry your organization forward.
Gartner advocates following the STREET Process for adopting new technologies into the enterprise. The acronym stands for Scope, Track, Rank, Evaluate, Evangelize and Transfer. Here’s a quick breakdown:
While this process varies depending on the needs and realities of your organization, it’s a tried and true method that has helped many different types of companies solve their most vexing challenges. However, one common misconception about this process is that it is finite. In my experience, the value an enterprise can gain from a powerful piece of technology does not stop with implementation; rather, the continued expansion to different parts of the organization is critical to ensure smooth internal operations and the ultimate success of key technologies throughout the enterprise.
Navigating the internal expansion of the FourKites platform is something we’ve helped companies navigate at all levels of the FourKites customer journey. For most companies, the driving force for these changes will be either top-down or bottom-up, though there are some companies that use a mix of both. Smithfield Foods is one such example.
In a recent webinar, Jeff Covington of Smithfield Foods talked about building up momentum internally before making the push for a higher level of internal expansion. He acknowledged that especially in this day and age, many teams and employees are going to have a certain resistance to adopting yet another new tool, even if it offers the potential to ultimately make their lives easier. For Smithfield, this took the form of a bottoms-up approach, augmented by strong support of the tool and its capabilities from upper management.
We needed to build a success rate in a small group with the transportation department before expanding out to other areas of the organization. And by doing that, we showed the benefit that it would be to them. It was something new. People were resistant to looking at yet another screen, yet another place to go find information. But when we showed how much time they could save by doing that, and the success rate we were having, they bought in rather quickly.”
– Jeff Covington, Supply Chain Manager, Smithfield Foods
To use Gartner’s terminology, what Jeff is advocating here is essentially focusing on a second round of evangelism, followed by the transfer of the technology to another team or department that can benefit from its use. By re-evangelizing and showing the benefit of the technology to many different stakeholders, departments and teams, Smithfield was able to overcome team members’ natural resistance to new tools, technology and workflows.
Land O’Lakes, which successfully grew the number of team members using FourKites to well over 200 in just two years, offered four key steps that helped them advance the adoption and value of FourKites within their organization.
Step 1: Build trust in the data. Before you can deploy a tool to other teams and departments, you need to make sure that your own team is getting consistent value from the tool itself. This starts with clean, reliable data.
Step 2: Promote the tool both internally and externally. Once you have your initial deployment team getting strong value and actionable data, it’s time to communicate those wins to other teams who can use the tool to do the same.
Step 3: Produce training and documentation. It’s important to be able to scale the deployment of any new technology, so you’re not going through the same learning curves every time you transfer the tool to another user group. To accelerate and make that transition as seamless as possible, you need good training and documentation.
Step 4: Develop strategies to encourage consistent use. Especially early on, many users will be tempted to revert to the old way of doing things simply out of habit. Because of this, Land O’Lakes recommends devising ways to remind and encourage employees to make use of the new tool, whether that’s through a rewards or gamification system, regular “tips and tricks” newsletters, or any other model that positively promotes consistent engagement.
Some FourKites users who completed Gartner reviews offered additional tips and suggestions for driving internal adoption of new technologies. These included:
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It’s important to note that this advice isn’t just limited to supply chain visibility technology, nor even to the supply chain industry in particular. All enterprises can benefit from efficient, scalable adoption of new technologies, and the advice shared in this post holds true regardless of technology, industry or size. I hope you found these tips helpful, and please keep an eye out for future posts that will help you maximize the impact of technology in your organization.