Technology upgrades can provide various benefits and may be necessary to stay ahead of the competition. However, new systems and tools can also disrupt daily operations. Workers and business partners may need time to adapt to these solutions — especially if the rollout isn’t planned correctly.
The right strategy can help businesses minimize the disruptions that come with new technology, helping them secure the benefits with minimal costs.
Keep the Company’s Core Offerings in Mind
The company’s core value proposition doesn’t have to change when new technology is adopted — even when upgrades are significant.
For example, shipping container giant Maersk recently partnered with IBM and government authorities to deploy blockchain technology that would provide an easily accessible single source of truth for supply chain operations.
The technology lowered administrative expenses and improved supply chain risk management, but it didn’t require the company to transform operations or change its core offerings.
Leveraging new technology intelligently doesn’t require a business to reinvent itself — instead, it works best when adopted to support existing functions. Considering the company’s core offerings can keep the adoption of new technology on track and minimize disruption while maximizing potential benefits.
When Possible, Integrate New Solutions Slowly
Solutions that enable pilot projects or phase-in periods can provide a smoother transition than new technology that requires an entire department or set of workers to shift immediately from using what they know.
For example, consider a construction company that wants to begin using autonomous vehicles to transport raw materials to, from and around sites. It has a few options. Machinery manufacturer Caterpillar has invested heavily in autonomous equipment over the past few decades. It has more than 500 autonomous trucks in operation worldwide.
The company’s autonomous trucks are built to work alongside manned vehicles and can perform fully and partially self-driving operations. As a result, adopting these trucks doesn’t require a client to completely swap traditional machines for self-driving ones. If needed, a buyer can purchase just one truck and stage a pilot project that will allow them to identify the technology’s benefits, risks and potential for job site disruption.
In the future, if the buyer wants to adopt more of these autonomous vehicles, they have the information they need to integrate them in a way that will minimize work disruption.
The same approach can work for any supply chain professional wanting to adopt new technology. Solutions designed to allow a slow phase-in process or pilot project can make it easier for supply chain managers to determine the benefits they provide and how they may disrupt normal operations.
This information can make the large-scale adoption of the solution smoother and more straightforward. Slowly adopting a solution allows companies to secure additional time to train workers and communicate the change to business partners.
Provide User Training
Proactive and engaging user training is one of the best ways to minimize disruptions that may come with new technology. Ensuring that employees have the knowledge they need to take full advantage of a supply chain solution helps managers preempt disruptions.
Effective training strategies will accommodate as many learning styles as possible. It’s a good idea to follow best practices for technology education and provide various materials — like in-person learning, written tutorials, videos and interactive tools. This allows employees to become familiar with the new technology in a way they find comfortable.
Managers should also expect employees to learn at varying paces. Some workers may pick up the new technology quickly, while others may need extra time for training.
Upgrading Technology Without Major Disruptions
New technology can be disruptive, depending on how a business decides to upgrade. Sudden changes with minimal planning can make it hard to accurately predict potential disruptions and adequately train employees. Less planning can also result in the adoption of new tech that isn’t in line with the company’s strategy or mission.
Deploying new technologies gradually, using pilot programs and training employees well will help companies minimize potential disruptions to supply chain operations.
About the author
Rose Morrison is a construction writer with a passion for sustainable building and innovative construction technologies. She is the managing editor of Renovated and regularly contributes to a number of reputable sites, such as NCCER, The Safety Mag, and Geospatial World. For more from Rose, you can follow her on Twitter.