A Matter of Time
Many years earlier, during one of my first trips to the US, a team dinner was being planned. The host asked me when I would be able to reach the venue and I said “6, 6.30”! There was silence in the room and many confused looks. The host asked again, “when can you reach the restaurant?”. My response and the response of the others was the same as before. My host then asked, “will you be at the restaurant at 6 or 6.30?”. It then hit me that there was nothing like “around”, “about”, “approximately” etc when one talked time in those places. It is 6 or 6.30! But, alas, the Indian Standard Time in tandem with the Indian Standard Mind works a lot on around, about, approximately, maybe and if at all.
That attitude reflected in everything we did in the logistics arena too. You bought a large consumer durable which will be delivered “free” by the local transporter. Ask the question, “when?” you will get the vernacular equivalent of “we will reach it to you” or “it will come”!! No commit on day or time. And the best part is that this response was and even now well accepted.
Fast forward to today’s India, where we have now Amazoned to knowing when our parcels will arrive. Or did it start with an Indigo whose claim to success rode on “On Time Performance” as one of the pillars? Whichever it is, clearly, we like, prefer and support a service which delivers to commitment. Nothing surprising here! But then, how often do we commit to our performance?
Dig into operations in any organization and even homes in the country, you find large inefficiencies. Large inefficiencies are built into the way of working simply because we are unsure of the input delivered by the upstream services. The oft quoted logistics spend at 13% of GDP (incidentally no one really seems to know where this number came from), is not questioned because we rationalize it with the “accepted” inefficiencies in the system.
In this era of technology, data science, global competition et all, there are examples of organizations raising the bar to improve their efficiency by 5x or 10x. It did not need rocket science! All it needed was some simple analysis of available data, establishing clear & robust processes and communicating the expectations & penalties to the upstream service providers. It allowed these organizations to commit to their customers. Yes, easier said than done. But, it can be and has been done. Indigo did it. One might argue that they built some buffers. It is important to remember that, even if they did build buffers, those were not bloated, but calculated ones which helped them deliver to a promise, a commitment.
The brunt of such inefficiencies is borne by the logistics sector. At every stage of the supply chain, the logistics sector is expected to bridge the gap between the “expected” and the “actual”, however large the gap is. This leads to warehouses that are underutilized or overflowing - which typically is the problem to manage. And then is the demand on the transportation to reach at the “expected” time despite delays in shipping. While a platform like www.klik4logistics.com will help overcome such crisis to a large extent by bringing together the demand & the supply of logistics services, it is better to avoid a crisis. Such sites are made to enable planning ahead, to bring two or more unconnected persons / entities together to achieve their individual objectives. Logistics involves planning, in addition to warehousing, transportation and associated services. The robustness of the demand & supply planning in tandem with a good & clear plan for the physical logistics of warehousing & transportation will help reduce that 13% logistics bill significantly. Add the loss due to high inventory as well as accidents & damages due to expedited transit, we are talking fairly large value that can be saved.
It is a cultural change. A change from thinking on the lines of words like around, about, approximately to words like “at”, “on”, “in”. It is putting in that extra effort, that robust process and following it! It is learning to commit and more importantly, planning to meet that commitment! Can we commit to a performance level? Can it happen by all services, by all sections, by all….?
I believe we can! After all, it is just a matter of time!