“Our jobs are only going to become bigger and more complex. Technology will always be changing, but the real challenge is how to manage that,” says Catherine Cooper, founder of the logistics consulting firm World Connections and general session speaker during the Nov. 12-14 IWLA Technology & Operations Solutions for Warehousing Conference in Chicago, Ill.
Cooper knows the technical side of the logistics industry: She served as CIO for a billion-dollar global third-party logistics firm. Her success in managing new technologies boils down to return-on-investment.
“3PLs are measured by production and labor,” Cooper says. “IT is a cost center. It’s not always about the biggest system. If no one is using it correctly, the ROI is not there.”
According to Cooper, ROI is only generated through managing expectations at every level. An ROI mindset starts with the executive level: Build a case for why the technology is needed and, most importantly, demonstrate the ramifications of not employing the technology in the future.
“If your board is not approving the technology then there is a gap in your communication. It’s not always about data points. You need to provide a whiteboard for avoidance of the decision flow, system functionality, over fulfillment areas, cost savings, cultural shifts, and management of the new system,” Cooper says.
Once the system goes live, Cooper says your job is just beginning: Leadership needs to continue to shepherd the entire company through these dynamic changes.
“You have to be the public relations consultant on your own project. Success depends on how early and how well you communicate things at different phases. And you need to stay consistent, beating the same drum over and over,” she says.
Want to hear more? Cooper is also leading a breakout session during the 2014 IWLA Tech/Ops Conference where she will talk about risk management and introduce tools/examples of how to communicate effectively. Register before Oct. 25 for a guaranteed reduced-room rate.