Integrating supply chain technology that focuses on employee experience is essential if you want them to get the most out of it.
So here’s your end-to-end checklist to ensure your app bridges the physical and the digital to create your own Supply Chain 4.0. Better still, you’ll build an application your supply chain colleagues will love.
The following checklist results from our experience helping supply chain businesses like Maersk, McKesson, and Transglobal Express build future-proof smart device apps with our technology.
Aligning your tech stack with your ambitions
Regular tech audits are a proactive approach to maintaining an efficient, secure, and cost-effective technology infrastructure.
1. Set a regular audit schedule to assess your technology’s effectiveness
Auditing is crucial for the long-term health of your technology. But without a set schedule, they can easily be missed or postponed.
Set a clear timetable for tech audits. This could be quarterly, bi-annually, or annually. However, it should probably be scheduled ahead of peak periods.
2. Bring in external tech consultants for a fresh perspective
Relying solely on internal audits may result in a limited or biased view, potentially missing critical insights or emerging best practices.
Bring in trusted external supply chain tech consultants for periodic audits and unbiased feedback. This is a role we have frequently filled while helping clients implement our technology.
3. Keep your tech streamlined to avoid inefficiencies
A cluttered tech landscape can confuse employees and increase training and support costs.
Regularly assess and streamline tech tools used in warehousing, transportation, procurement, and forecasting to ensure smooth and timely operations.
Also, identifying and eliminating overlapping systems or tools is essential, especially in inventory and transportation management systems. Tech audits can identify and consolidate them.
4. Update outdated systems to avoid supply chain black spots
Some legacy systems can be incompatible with modern tracking and analytics tools, leading to blind spots in the supply chain.
Regularly update systems to ensure compatibility with smart devices, real-time tracking tools, and advanced analytics platforms that offer insights into supply chain performance. This is an area where our own technology excels.
5. Defining clear and measurable objectives
Start with the end and work from there. What do you want to achieve? Real-time inventory tracking, automated procurement, or multi-channel distribution? Figure it out and set specific, measurable targets.
The supply chain is a complex web of workflows and systems. Clear objectives need to be set. This is something Scandit’s Enterprise Success has frequently helped companies achieve.
Set regular intervals to review integration goals and ensure they align with the broader supply chain strategy and current market conditions.
6. Adjust integration strategies based on results for continuous improvement
Sticking to a rigid strategy can lead to issues even when results indicate a need for change. For example, a lack of adaptability in the face of supply chain challenges.
Use analytics and feedback mechanisms to assess the effectiveness of integration strategies regularly.
7. Acknowledge and celebrate milestones
Bringing new supply chain technology can be long and complex. Celebrating milestones keeps morale high and acknowledges the team’s hard work.
Set clear milestones in the integration roadmap. Take the time to recognize the efforts when they are achieved, whether through formal recognition, team events, or other incentives.
Working with employees to develop an app for their needs
Getting the end-user involved with your app is the best way to ensure they keep using it.
We have worked with various employees in different supply chain roles to develop pre-built UIs for technology like SparkScan, MatrixScan Find and MatrixScan Count. These can be fitted straight into smart device applications with a minimum amount of time.
8. Outline user personas, journeys, and stories
There are many different roles within supply chain and distribution operations—from procurement officers to warehouse managers to truck drivers. They all have unique needs and challenges.
Engage with representatives from each role to gather insights and craft detailed user personas and stories.
Mapping out user journeys can highlight bottlenecks or inefficiencies in processes, such as inventory management or order fulfillment.
9. Map out user journeys for clarity
Collaborate with teams to examine their critical touch points or challenges. Overlooking them can lead to operational inefficiencies.
10. Prioritize features based on user needs
Prioritize features significantly impacting operations, such as real-time tracking, reordering, or inventory forecasting.
Use feedback from supply chain teams and data analysis to identify and prioritize essential features.
11. Consider the user when designing the UI. Build a seamless experience
A seamless user experience ensures quick adoption, reduces user error, and works toward the project’s overall success.
For example, at Scandit we conducted extensive user studies with prototypes for our pre-built UI products.
Engage with users to understand their day-to-day challenges and efficiently design systems that address them.
12. Opt for a ready-made UI rather than reinventing the wheel
Custom-built solutions can be resource-intensive. Time can be saved using a pre-built UI on products like MatrixScan Count, Scandit Express, and MatrixScan Find. These have already been stress-tested with users.
A premade UI like this can speed up system deployment and provide a head-start for your development team.
Who are the most important stakeholders in developing your application? It’s the employees who will be using it, of course.
13. Hold regular feedback sessions with employees
Frontline employees, such as warehouse workers, drivers, and distribution center operators, offer immediate insights into the day-to-day challenges and opportunities of the operations.
Overlooking on-ground feedback can lead to operational inefficiencies, missed opportunities for optimization, or even workflow disruptions.
14. Organize a system for collecting and organizing their suggestions
Structured feedback ensures valuable insights from all operational areas are captured and prioritized effectively.
Implement a centralized feedback collection system, ensuring that inputs from various distribution points are aggregated and analyzed systematically.
15. Take quick action on constructive feedback
Establish a responsive mechanism to review, prioritize, and act on feedback, ensuring timely improvements in operations.
Rapidly addressing feedback ensures that operational issues are promptly fixed.
Delays can cause issues, leading to potential disruptions or bottlenecks in the distribution chain.
16. Recognize and reward valuable insights
Recognizing and rewarding on-ground employees for their feedback builds a culture of continuous improvement and motivates employees to engage.
Set up recognition systems or incentives to highlight valuable feedback, ensuring contributors feel valued and appreciated.
17. Examine the practical insights your on-ground team provides for future projects
Past feedback and insights can inform future strategies, projects, or operational enhancements, ensuring that the supply chain evolves based on real-world learnings.
Maintain a repository of past feedback and insights, reviewing and considering them when planning new supply chain or distribution initiatives.
Scandit excels at bringing together the physical and the digital. The best digitalization plan in the world will only work if it’s in harmony with what’s happening on the ground.
18. Start small and automate simple processes with lower investment
Tackling simpler processes first offers an opportunity to test and refine automation strategies.
This makes securing buy-in and building a foundation for larger projects easier. So try to prioritize processes with clear ROI and fewer complexities.
19. Digitize with reusable tech building blocks.
Leveraging reusable tech components can accelerate deployment across different parts of the supply chain, ensuring consistency and reducing development time. A good example of this is the pre-built UI that has been developed for many of our products.
Adopt a modular approach to digitalization. Pre-built components are versatile and usable across various functions.
20. Ensure your tech components are centrally managed and standardized
Centralized management allows for consistent data reporting and easier integration between different stages of the supply chain. Decentralized systems can lead to inconsistencies in inventory data, order processing, or shipment tracking.
Implement a unified platform that integrates all automation components, ensuring consistency and ease of management.
21. Provide omni-persona digitalization and democratize the use of tech
By ensuring tools are accessible to all—from warehouse floor staff to distribution managers—every stage of the supply chain can benefit from automation. Using smart devices is an excellent way of doing this.
So avoid limiting your tools to specific roles or departments. This can lead to information silos, hindering data flow and insights.
22. Avoid technology lock-ins
The logistics and supply industry is evolving rapidly. Avoid getting locked in with expensive hardware like dedicated scanning devices.
Smart devices are the main alternative to this, allowing easy development of new applications and services.
23. Keep up regular tech training sessions
Logistics technology will also evolve. Regular training ensures supply chain employees can use the latest tools and getting stuck with the old ones through habit.
Schedule routine training sessions. Updating supporting content to reflect the latest applications and how to use them.
24. Consider hands-on workshops with tech evangelists
Interactive workshops with experts can provide employees with deep insights and improvements, from inventory management to reordering.
Organize workshops where employees can gain hands-on experience and insights from tech evangelists.
25. Encourage team discussions on new tech features
Collaborative discussions can surface practical insights on tech implementations, such as the real-world benefits of a new inventory system or challenges with a new distribution app.
Create an environment where teams can regularly discuss and feedback tech implementations, sharing successes and challenges.
26. Reward employees for tech proficiency
Recognizing tech proficiency encourages employees to become experts in tools critical to supply chain efficiency.
Implement a recognition system that rewards employees for mastering and innovatively using supply chain technologies.
So where to go from here?
There’s a lot here to take in. But in essence, creating a supply chain application that is truly helpful for employees, comes down to:
- User-centricity and understanding how your employees will use the app and what it needs to do.
- Regular audits and feedback loops coupled with feedback from on-ground staff.
- Adopting a hybrid approach to bridge the physical and the digital. Start small with automation, avoid technology lock-ins, and ensure every stakeholder has a say.
Want to know more about how to do this? Then get in touch, and we’ll show you how our technology can help you there.