What you should consider when selecting technology
Choosing the right technology can be a critically important decision in the transport industry. With its razor sharp margins, choose a technology which doesn’t deliver and you can kiss your money goodbye. On the other hand, fail to back a technology that delivers improved productivity and watch as your competitors leave you in their dust.
Regardless of whether the technology is a feature on a new vehicle, new combination type, new software or something else, this blog is intended to provide a structured framework for you to evaluate your options before you sign on the dotted line.
What are your objectives?
Before diving into selecting a particular technology, take the time to step back and evaluate what you are trying to achieve or what problem you are trying to address. It may be helpful to write this down as it forces you to distil your thinking into a structured description.
If you’re trying to achieve multiple things, capture each of them and rank your priorities, you can do this by simply ordering them from most important down to least, or by putting a numerical score.
How will you measure success?
The next step is to put some metrics around the objectives you identified, these should be hard objective measurements, something you can put numbers on. Some examples could be:
- Number of unscheduled service tickets per vehicle per month
- Work hour limit breaches per driver per month
You then need to determine how you’re performing against these measures and determine what range of improvement you are aiming to achieve. Rather than a single value, you may opt to put a range of figures, starting with the smallest increase that would be acceptable, then what your target is and finishing with an absolute best-case outcome.
Identify your options
Now is the time to evaluate what technology (or non-technology options) might help you achieve your desired outcomes. Be aware of the risk of tunnel vision in this process, you might have started this process because you saw a particular system/approach. Make sure you don’t limit your thinking to only that way of solving the problem.
Jot down some dot points of the features, cost, advantages and disadvantages of each approach. Pay particular attention to how much change that a technology will require in your business. Understand that to successfully implement any new technology or process in your business, you’re going to need to undertake training with all affected staff.
Evaluate your options
With the options identified, the next step is to determine which one is the most appropriate. Some questions to ask yourself include:
- How well will it achieve your original objective(s)?
- How will you fund it?
- What up front training will be required?
- What ongoing support is required?
- Who will monitor and maintain the technology?
- Does it eliminate the need for other systems/technology?
- Does it provide any additional benefits beyond those in your original objectives/metrics?
- Does the vendor provide reliable support and service?
In evaluating the options, it can be invaluable to talk to other operators who have already tried a particular technology and draw on their experience, its benefits and drawbacks, and dealing with the vendor. However, keep in mind that their circumstances may differ from yours, so make sure you critically evaluate the information other operators provide.
One of the biggest contributors to failure of new approaches in the transport industry is overlooking the need to manage the introduction of that technology into the business. Determine how much training and communication should be required, then aim to deliver at least double that amount.
Once you’ve chosen which solution you’re going to run with, make sure you take a planned and structured approach to how you implement it. You may have options for how you purchase the technology (purchase, leased, ‘as-a-service’) and you may need to decide how you roll it out in your business. You might consider a progressive roll-out, trialing it on a few vehicles or at a single depot.
Review and adjust
Once you’ve rolled the technology out in your business, ensure you have scheduled some periodic check-ins to review the implementation. Talk to your people about how they’re finding the new technology and make sure you respond positively to that feedback.
Refer back to your original metrics of success and assess whether you’re on track to realise the expected benefits, however, also review the other impacts – positive or negative – that the technology has had on your business. Finally, remember that you can change your approach, if your original implementation plan isn’t working, don’t be afraid to pivot to new methods.
- Before diving into selecting technology, take the time to step back and evaluate what you are trying to achieve or what problem you are trying to address
- Put some metrics around your objectives
- Be aware of the risk of tunnel vision when selecting a particular system/approach