From manual to automated transport planning: a hard nut to crack
Posted by Dieter Roman on 20/12/2016
In one of our previous blogs we explained why communication is key to the success of any change process. However, communication is just one aspect of change management. It obviously takes more than timely and effective communication alone to foster employee acceptance of the change.
From our conversations with customers, we know that resistance to a transport planning tool can be a hard nut to crack. No matter how convincing the results achieved with the new planning tool may be, including often considerable savings, planners may still be reluctant to make use of it.
‘Beat the tool’-competition
Is it because they fear that they will become surplus to requirements in the long run? That may be part of the explanation. But another reason may be that the tool is perceived as being too complex, leading to suspicion and unwillingness to use it – especially when the proposed planning outcome isn’t in line with the planners’ expectations. Sometimes there is a real competition between the planner and the tool. Which could never be the purpose… That’s why it is important to make sure that planners gain a good understanding of the logic and reasoning behind the planning proposals, how the tool is set up and what is the added value of the planner.
Corporate vision versus personal ambition
That’s also why it is important to take the right approach to change management. Large, monolithic change management programs may have been the accepted remedy a couple of decades ago but today’s organizations need to develop a more agile approach. Change management should be people-driven, context-aware, integrated and supported by innovation. Furthermore, there needs to be a direct connection between an employee’s own ambition and the overall mission of the organization. Every change management project should strive to ensure that these two elements are in sync.
What does this mean for a change management project in a planning environment? To be people-driven and context-aware, the change management process should take into account the different maturity levels within the planning department. Some but not all planners may have previously worked with planning tools. Communication and training should be aligned with those different profiles. The last thing you want to happen to your planning tool is to be considered as a ‘black box’ that is replacing all the planners’ expertise and skills.
Start small and scale up
In large organizations, it may even be wise to avoid implementing a new tool in all planning departments at the same time. Instead, give your organization time to gain experience with the tool in one of your most mature planning departments and then start a phased roll-out in other departments. By doing so, you can prepare your organization and build on lessons learned from the first departments that went live with the tool. Develop an agile approach to get all stakeholders on board effectively.
An agile path to your goals… and to a better route planning
Does being agile mean that change management is set adrift? Of course not; you never lose sight of the goals that were set, but you do adapt to circumstances taking into account people, context and support.
Change is a process that will never be perceived in the same way by all stakeholders, but by focusing on the individual ‘planner profiles’ in your process you will create a smoother path towards better plannings.