3 items tagged "performance management"

  • Business Intelligence in 3PL: Mining the Value of Data

    data-mining-techniques-create-business-value 1In today’s business world, “information” is a renewable resource and virtually a product in itself. Business intelligence technology enables businesses to capture historical, current and predictive views of their operations, incorporating such functions as reporting, real-time analytics, data and process mining, performance management, predictive analytics, and more. Thus, information in its various forms and locations possesses genuine inherent value.
    In the real world of warehousing, the availability of detailed, up-to-the minute information on virtually every item in the operators’ custody, from inbound dock to delivery site, leads to greater efficiency in every area it touches. Logic would offer that greater profitability ensues.
    Three areas of 3PL operations seem to be most benefitted through savings opportunities identified through business intelligence solutions: labor, inventory, and analytics.
    In the first case, business intelligence tools can help determine the best use of the workforce, monitoring its activity in order to assure maximum effective deployment. The result: potentially major jumps in efficiency, dramatic reductions in downtime, and healthy increases in productivity and billable labor.
    In terms of inventory management, the metrics obtainable through business intelligence can stem inventory inaccuracies that would have resulted in thousands of dollars in annual losses, while also reducing write-offs.
    Analytics through business intelligence tools can also accelerate the availability of information, as well as provide the optimal means of presentation relative to the type of user. One such example is the tracking of real-time status of work load by room or warehouse areas; supervisors can leverage real-time data to re-assign resources to where they are needed in order to balance workloads and meet shipping times. A well-conceived business intelligence tool can locate and report on a single item within seconds and a couple of clicks.
    Extending the Value
    The value of business intelligence tools is definitely not confined to the product storage areas.
    With automatically analyzed information available in a dashboard presentation, users – whether in the office or on the warehouse floor – can view the results of their queries/searches in a variety of selectable formats, choosing the presentation based on its usefulness for a given purpose. Examples:
    • Status checks can help identify operational choke points, such as if/when/where an order has been held up too long; if carrier wait-times are too long; and/or if certain employees have been inactive for too long.
    • Order fulfillment dashboards can monitor orders as they progress through the picking, staging and loading processes, while also identifying problem areas in case of stalled processes.
    • Supervisors walking the floor with handheld devices can both encourage team performance and, at the same time, help assure efficient dock-side activity. Office and operations management are able to monitor key metrics in real-time, as well as track budget projections against actual performance data.
    • Customer service personnel can call up business intelligence information to assure that service levels are being maintained or, if not, institute measures to restore them.
    • And beyond the warehouse walls, sales representatives in the field can access mined and interpreted data via mobile devices in order to provide their customers with detailed information on such matters as order fill rates, on-time shipments, sales and order volumes, inventory turnover, and more.
    Thus, well-designed business intelligence tools not only can assemble and process both structured and unstructured information from sources across the logistics enterprise, but can deliver it “intelligently” – that is, optimized for the person(s) consuming it. These might include frontline operators (warehouse and clerical personnel), front line management (supervisors and managers), and executives.
    The Power of Necessity
    Chris Brennan, Director of Innovation at Halls Warehouse Corp., South Plainfield N.J., deals with all of these issues as he helps manage the information environment for the company’s eight facilities. Moreover, as president of the HighJump 3PL User Group, he strives to foster collective industry efforts to cope with the trends and issues of the information age as it applies to warehousing and distribution.
    “Even as little as 25 years ago, business intelligence was a completely different art,” Brennan has noted. “The tools of the trade were essentially networks of relationships through which members kept each other apprised of trends and happenings. Still today, the power of mutual benefit drives information flow, but now the enormous volume of data available to provide intelligence and drive decision making forces the question: Where do I begin?”
    Brennan has taken a leading role in answering his own question, drawing on the experience and insights of peers as well as the support of HighJump’s Enterprise 3PL division to bring Big Data down to size:
    “Business intelligence isn’t just about gathering the data,” he noted, “it’s about getting a group of people with varying levels of background and comfort to understand the data and act upon it. Some managers can glance at a dashboard and glean everything they need to know, but others may recoil at a large amount of data. An ideal BI solution has to relay information to a diverse group of people and present challenges for them to think through.”
    source: logisticviewpoints.com, December 6, 2016
  • How deeper employer - employee connections enhance individual and team performances

    How deeper employer - employee connections enhance individual and team performances

    Ever see something for the first time and then realize you see it everywhere? That happened to me over the last two weeks.

    1936 U.S. Olympic Crew Team

    It started with the book, “The Boys in the Boat,” by Daniel James Brown. It’s about a group of working-class boys from the University of Washington that goes on to win the gold medal in the Berlin Olympics. The part that caught my attention — the boys showed glimpses of greatness through their individual athletic feats. However, they were at risk of never becoming the No. 1 boat because they were consistently beaten by other boats on their own school team. It wasn’t until they internalized that excelling individually but not in sync with each other restricted their overall speed. Once they began rowing, not for one’s self but for each other, the boat began to glide on top of the water like there was no resistance. At that point they were unbeatable.

    2008 Boston Celtics

    Then came the Netflix series 'The Playbook'. This series highlights some of the most successful coaches in sports. The first episode features Doc Rivers, who led the Boston Celtics to the 2008 NBA championship. The team had acquired two star players to join one already on the roster. The problem Rivers faced was that he had three players that, on any other team, would expect to dominate the floor and excel with individual stats. Three players attempting to optimize individual performance on the same team would have had a disastrous result, just as the boys in the boat from Washington discovered. Coach Rivers introduced the concept of ubuntu.


    Ubuntu is an African philosophy meaning “you are because of the others.” One succeeds not solely because of one’s individual ability. Rather, enabling others, and having relationships and bonds with others is more important than any individual disagreement or division. Doc Rivers used this philosophy to bring the individuals together on his team to create something greater than the sum of its parts, resulting in an NBA championship. On a much grander scale, Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Nelson Mandela preached the philosophy as a way forward to develop future governance and heal a post-apartheid South Africa.


    I learned of Janteloven through a conversation with a business executive in Norway. Janteloven is a Scandinavian philosophy, a way of life that puts society ahead of the individual. This restricts the temptation to boast about individual accomplishments and teaches against being jealous of others. Interestingly, the topic didn’t come up because of a philosophical discussion. Instead, it emerged as part of designing a business improvement plan, including how much attention should be put on developing and highlighting individual advancement.

    Philosophy Under Attack

    There are those who argue that these philosophies directly contradict the Western views of individualism and that societies embracing them are at a disadvantage. In this duality of individualism verses collectivism, the argument is that philosophies like ubuntu and janteloven destroy the individual spirit. I’d like to think that the 1936 U.S. crew team and the 2008 Boston Celtics proved just the opposite. They were highly talented, highly skilled individuals who found a ceiling when excelling as individuals. It wasn’t until they embraced the ideal of operating together for the betterment of the group that the ceiling rose exponentially. This is the challenge of leadership — harnessing the talents of individuals to row in unison while in a culture that rewards individually.

    The New Employment Deal

    In late 2020, the Gartner HR practice launched the idea of 'the new employment deal'. This concept centers around employees demanding a relationship with their employers that differs from the traditional barter system of productivity for payment. This new deal requires a shared purpose, flexibility and deeper connections between employer and employees.

    It’s possible to see this relationship as benefiting employees at the expense of the employer, but this study found both enjoyed positive outcomes. Benefits to the employer included an increase in high-performing employees as well as a greater number of employees willing to promote the company externally. At organizations with a traditional approach, about 54% of employees were considered high performers. At organizations that prioritize building deeper connections, that number jumped to 75%. Also, in organizations with a traditional approach, only 38% of employees recommended the company externally. In those that built deeper connections, well over half of employees were willing to promote the company (56%). These outcomes improved retention and give employers advantaged access to the best talent in the labor market.

    At the end of the day

    As business leaders, we act similarly to coaches of professional sports teams. We can learn from the 2008 Celtics and the 1936 U.S. Olympic crew team. By blending the Western focus on the individual with the philosophies of ubuntu and janteloven, we can build groups of highly talented individuals and elevate their performance as part of a team. We do this not by abandoning the individual, but by fostering a culture of enablement that allows the individual to showcase their talents in sync with the group, thereby raising the overall ceiling of success. Our task as leaders is to identify the roadblocks that prevent that from happening, whether it’s in compensation structure, management coaching or simply fear of corporate intimacy.

    Author: Michael Uskert

    Source: Gartner

  • Mulitalented IT performers: the paradox of versatility and role clarity

    Mulitalented IT performers: the paradox of versatility and role clarity

    Versatility is an admirable trait in any IT team member. But what happens when a manager allows staffers to stretch their talents too far?

    Many IT leaders admire a versatile employee. After all, someone who can fill multiple roles, especially in an era when skilled talent is in short supply, can be a highly valuable asset.

    A problem arises, however, when a multi-skilled staffer is in such high demand across the organization that it conflicts with their primary job duties. “It's common in modern IT shops to find top performers holding multiple roles in the organization,” says Matt Mead, CTO at SPR Consulting, which bills itself as a technology modernization firm. “However, it's critical that these top performers have the time, passion and ability to perform the multiple roles,” he adds.

    IT leaders “should absolutely” consider asking their top performers to wear multiple hats to serve their organization to the fullest, states Ryan Rackley, a partner with global technology research and advisory company ISG.

    On the other hand, it's possible to take the concept too far, since holding multiple formal job titles poses challenges to both the organization and its employees since it may create confusion over who's responsible for what task, observes Dana Daher, senior research analyst in the CIO practice at Info-Tech Research Group. “However, allowing top IT performers to have multiple competencies, capabilities, or roles within a job can be a key ingredient to success within an organization,” she says.

    Multiple Advantages

    Depending on the organization, it's entirely possible that certain IT roles can be performed on a part-time basis, Mead says. “Assigning multiple roles to IT top performers is a technique that can be used temporarily, such as to fill a critical role due to attrition or used permanently for roles that can be done on a part-time basis.”

    Besides the obvious benefit of broadening and deepening its talent pool, an organization that allows proficient team members play multiple roles stands to gain increased efficiency and productivity. “As they operate, that individual begins to make connections that would have otherwise required intense levels of collaboration between teammates,” Rackley says. “Not only does this benefit the organization directly, but it gives the thirsty top performer the opportunity to simultaneously experience various elements of the operation.”

    Disadvantages, Too

    A potential disadvantage of assigning multiple roles to top performers is failing to give the individual sufficient time to accomplish all the assigned tasks. This oversight can have a ripple negative effect on others in the organization and create a less than ideal work environment, Mead notes. “Additionally, from an organization-culture perspective, the perception of roles being hoarded at the top level may also give the sense that upward mobility is being restricted to a favored few.”

    Rackley believes that leaders should be “ruthlessly pragmatic” when considering a consolidation of responsibilities. “There's no magic wand that makes one person capable of performing where there were previously four people,” she says.

    When consolidating responsibilities to individual staff members, there should first be an open dialogue with the entire team to explain that a certain amount of future work will now be delegated to specific individuals, and that objective performance measures will be applied to the designated employees. “Sorting the work in this way results in clearly defined outcomes that are acceptable to the employee and the organization, which will help ensure expectations are met and the employee does not become overloaded,” Rackley says.

    IT leaders must be cautious when assigning multiple roles to employees since the decision will require the selected individuals to multitask. This can be a good thing, but only if handled judiciously and compassionately. If improperly handled, multitasking can lead to burnout and a decrease the work quality, Daher cautioned. “It's important to prioritize roles, clarify accountabilities, and ensure the directions of the roles are clear,” she says. Additionally, without strong governance in place, multitasking individuals may make unauthorized and possibly damaging decisions, mistakenly believing they're accountable for things that they are not.

    Last Word

    An IT leader may be tempted to allow a top performer to hold multiple jobs within the organization, but it should never be a long-term solution, due to negative impact on role clarity and overall employee engagement, warned Julie Rysenga, principal of IT consulting firm 3LS Consulting.

    Rysenga believes that the pitfalls of allowing a top team performer to hold multiple posts far outweigh any benefits. Role clarity, she explained, has been shown to be an important ingredient in overall employee engagement. “Role clarity, achieved through the job description, provides the guardrails around which employee performance can be reviewed and managed,” Rysenga says. “Allowing someone to hold multiple jobs decreases overall role clarity both for the individual and for the other individuals on the team.”

    Author: John Edwards

    Source: InfromationWeek

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