Power to the people
Power to the people: How change management is essential when upgrading your TOS
(Article printed in Port Strategy November 2015, reproduced below)
The global business environment in which we operate is evolving. Advances in technology, the proliferation of mobile devices, and the Internet of Things – the network of physical objects connected to the Internet – are just a few of the phenomena that are dictating that a business needs to adapt to stay relevant.
In the logistics industry, these factors coupled with globalized trade are putting enormous pressure on ports to operate at maximum efficiency. It is only natural that they are turning to technology for a solution to stave off competition from around the world. A prime example is mixed cargo ports. Often smaller in size, but not in ambition, they win business by their ability to provide flexibility that the mega container ports cannot. To challenge their bigger competitors often requires investment in new information technology like terminal operating systems (TOS).
However, even the world’s best technology is redundant if you don’t have buy-in from staff responsible for using it. Ensuring your workforce is comfortable with change can often be the difference between success and failure.
So how does a port ensure that their entire organization, from entry-level employees through to senior management, are capable of handling change? The answer: change management.
When change management is done well, people feel engaged in the change process and work collectively towards a common objective, realizing benefits and delivering results.
Upgrading from an in-house system to a more comprehensive TOS solution is one such instance where change management is vital. Managing human emotions and employee concerns when implementing a new TOS, are as important as selecting the TOS solution itself.
Begin the process by assessing your situation. Determine what needs to change, how technology can assist you with these changes, and how ready your people are for change.
If your terminal operations need improvements, then collaborate with relevant stakeholders to determine a TOS that works for you. Part of this decision process needs to pay consideration to the TOS vendor. What is their implementation methodology, and do they provide adequate training and support for your staff?
Open two-way communication throughout any change process is essential. Staff feedback, including any uncertainties, should be welcomed and given credence when making technology upgrade decisions.
With a TOS vendor selected, begin proceedings with a project initiation meeting. This lays out expectations between both parties, such as the scope, budget and high-level schedule.
Carry out a detailed business process analysis. Define your current state and desired future state, and find the best balance between aligning your processes with the technology and customizing the technology to match your processes. Include users from all levels of your business to capture the differing objectives and requirements of a new system.
Change management is not just about overcoming people’s natural aversion to change, but to help them get equipped to use a new system. Users’ skills can vary widely and investing in training is critical to migrating from an in-house TOS.
After system configuration, and extensive training, conduct user acceptance testing and confirm that data migration works before creating a Go Live plan. For a new TOS, the Go Live is the most important element of the project. It is the moment of truth. Running a trial Go Live allows you to test whether your data is migrating as intended, and whether all customers and partners are ready for Go Live.
Finally, flick the switch and get your new system up and running. But that’s not where it ends, a good TOS vendor should provide adequate support and maintenance, ensuring your staff are competent and confident in using the new system.
With technology progressing at whirlwind speeds, how is your port placed to confront these winds of change? Do you have the information technology systems to provide you with a competitive advantage? If not, now is the time to change, but be sure to remember to bring your people with you on the journey. Companies that refuse to change get left behind, with the result a loss of market share and profit. And is that really something you can afford to ignore?
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