Logistics and Cold Storage Discovery

Mark Webster 16th January 2023

Optimising processes and utilising technology to improve the bottom line

Getting started

This week the team facilitated a two day workshop with a client who specialises in logistics and cold storage. The goal of the workshop was to address a number of challenges the client was facing within their warehouse operations, including issues related to mismatching line items when invoicing, communication, habitualization, IT systems, changing team behaviour, and understanding more about disparate motivations.

Identifying Problems, Barriers and Opportunities

Before the holiday period, Chloe (UX) and Eldon (Research) spent time on site at the client’s warehouse operations gathering insights and feedback from user interviews when speaking to key departments across the organisation such as Warehouse Management, Stock Controllers, Finance Teams, Planning, IT, Data architects and Customer Services.

This helped us to gain a deep understanding of the problems the client was facing and the pain points that their employees and customers were experiencing. We also did an observational study inside the warehouse to understand the actual workflow and how it is impacted by these issues. We then grouped, themed, and summarised the research findings in order to identify key opportunities for improvement in a number of areas in the logistics journey.

One of the main opportunities we identified was the need to improve the invoicing process. We found that there were often mismatches between the line items on the invoices and the products that were actually shipped. To address this, we identified that the implementation of an automated inventory management system would streamline the invoicing process and help to eliminate errors. This system could be integrated with the warehouse management system to provide real-time data and reduce the chance of mismatches.

Another opportunity we identified during the workshop was the need for better communication within the warehouse and sharing the real-time data. We found that there were often misunderstandings and miscommunications between different teams and departments when dealing with mismatches on line items, which led to delays and inefficiencies. To address this, we proposed the implementation of a centralised communication system, such as an internal dashboard platform, to improve real-time collaboration and information-sharing. This digital dashboard could be positioned in different areas of the warehouse and areas of the business.

Additionally, we suggested improving the command and the introduction of daily stand-up meetings, so everyone knows what to expect, who is doing what, and what obstacles need to be removed.

We identified the need to break the habitualization and risk of manual errors among the warehouse team. To tackle this, we proposed the introduction of a training program focused on skill development and employee empowerment. Reducing bad habits and domain knowledge focussed on hacks and workarounds could be eradicated.

In warehouse logistic companies, there is often a high turnover of staff and agency staff which was witnessed with this client. Habits and behaviours are seen to be carried between warehouses, so visibility of training and processes was crucial to aligning each player to the goals of the client.

This program would include training on new processes, and communication skills, as well as leadership training for team leaders and supervisors. We also suggested the introduction of incentives and rewards for achieving specific goals and milestones, as well as the introduction of a career progression program for people transitioning from the warehouse to back office.

The need to improve and consolidate parts of the client’s IT systems was highlighted as a critical area to focus on. The current systems were outdated and not always reliable, causing delays and hindering the warehouse operations.

To solve this, we proposed a comprehensive IT upgrade, focusing on automation and integration, to improve the efficiency of warehouse operations. Part of this would include automating test scripts that can be executed continuously in the background, thereby reducing the feedback time for the developers and helping them to fix the bugs immediately. Plus, automated tests can be designed to cover a wide range of scenarios, edge cases, and code paths, allowing for more comprehensive testing.

Service Blueprinting the end to end operation 

To support these solutions and opportunities, we also proposed the introduction of a Service Blueprint which would help the client to visualise the entire warehouse journey, identify touch-points and map out the interactions between the various teams, processes, and systems.

It would also help the client to clearly see the impact of their proposed solutions, how they interrelate, and the benefits and value to the business. The team has been using the TheyDo.io to support this activity to work at pace and focus on the things that really matter when solving client problems where journeys are relevant.

The outcomes and recommendations we’ve identified are closely tied to the clients goals and objectives for this engagement. Additional work is required to understand how they should be measurable through specific metrics. We will be making recommendations to use the outcome data in decision-making processes at all levels of the organisation following engaging all relevant stakeholders, including employees, customers, and other partners, in the process of defining and implementing outcomes.

What's next?

We are excited to move forward with the next steps of this project, which include a thorough review and finalisation of the deliverables. These include a comprehensive research and design toolkit, a detailed service blueprint, and a set of supporting recommendations documentation. Additionally, we will ensure that all relevant materials related to the project are included.

To ensure a smooth transition, our team will conduct a dedicated handover meeting with the client. During this meeting, we will present the final deliverables, provide a clear and concise walk-through of the implementation plan, and answer any questions the client may have. We value open communication, so our team will also take the opportunity to discuss any concerns or queries the client may have.
As a continuation of our commitment to client satisfaction, we will be reaching out to check in on the client's progress and to see if there are any ways in which we can further support the implementation.

We are looking forward to the successful implementation of the recommendations and solutions.

Ollie Bailey

Let's make something great together.

Ready to start your next project? Oliver is available to talk through your needs and how we can help.

Get in Touch