How I Solved My Delivery Tracking Problem
What they definitely don’t teach you in business school is how to handle technology creep. No, I am not talking about online stalkers but modifying a term from software and gaming development. In those industries, ‘feature creep’ describes the situation when the features offered by new technology creep up on your product, leaving it outdated by the time it hits the market.
To deal with this sort of thing, businesses have developed a number of ways ranging from rapid prototyping and scrum development methodologies over the previous waterfall model of the development life cycle. My problem was of a more mundane nature but there is no rule that says I can’t digress while describing the problem. After all, a good solution connects all the dots in the problem and offers a more holistic outcome than just a remedy.
The Spiral in Our Sales Funnel
My problem was coordinating a nation-wide network of independent sales executives who worked from home. Initially, the idea of having a network of sales agents who worked independent of premises seemed like a good idea, and by and large, it was. The trouble was, we needed was a quick and efficient way of receiving updates from my network of agents.
Our decentralized agent network was in no position to handle queries on the exact status of the shipments. To fix things, I needed a feedback loop between the Product Design department, the sales agents and back to Ops on what was where. We were literally operating without the benefit of GPS in a manner of speaking.
For a start, we looked at the existing communication channels. Our agents were online but they were scattered and most worked non-standard hours. We had tried emailing updates but these tended to be looked at only at the end of the day. Targets seemed to take priority over communication while those of us back in Ops wondered at the point of it all. There was no fault in the level of commitment our agents had. We simply had to find a better way to connect with them.
Our analysis of the problem indicated that we needed the following virtues in our communications:
- Universal accessibility
The Glow-screen at The End of The Tunnel
The answer was right there before us all this while. Furthermore, it was in our hands. Most of us didn’t even remember the last time we did not have it with us. The answer was the ubiquitous mobile phone.
I had to revisit our existing sales model and examine it in the light of any recent developments as described in this article on the Logistics Manager website on how transport was becoming increasingly tech-savvy. The landscape was changing and our customers with it. The landscape of how a prospective client can research your property has changed over the years with the inception of the web and online resources.
Here was a way to engage agents, customers and Ops. A mobile phone is ideal for our purposes as we could put searchable, always up-to-date delivery status information at their fingertips. Furthermore, the real-time ability to analyze data would help us know who was up-to-date and other details. If it worked for the USPS as mentioned in this article on EnterpriseTech, it could work for us.
The experts at MobileTek advised a solution that provides essential tools to handle on-demand, routed and distribution deliveries are streamlined with customer specific settings.
Pretty soon, things began to change. We could rest at ease knowing exactly what was in each shipment and where it was. The mobile platform had proved to be a veritable electronic Swiss army knife that could do almost everything we required.