Automating Tools To Deliver Industry-Leading Service To Customers

By Justina Johnson, VP-IT, WOW Logistics

Justina Johnson, VP-IT, WOW Logistics

Technologies that will give leaders within the logistics sector the competitive edge

As the head of an IT department, most would expect me tout cutting-edge warehouse and transportation management systems as the keys to developing a competitive advantage within our industry. Not so.

These are just tools that can put you in position to achieve success; they don’t guarantee it.

WOW Logistics’ industry leadership is the result of a marriage of technology solutions with detailed and well documented processes. Without processes driving the technology tools, true success never will be realized. I believe it is automating the company’s best practices and the use of a Documentation Management System (DMS) that push the business ahead of its competition.

Workflow and document management are inextricably connected. In the logistics industry, paperwork flows with every load in and out of the warehouse. These documents need to be managed efficiently and stored digitally.

These process improvements, however, do not occur in a vacuum; they need to be a collaborative effort between IT and the rest of the company. IT should be out in the field, on the floor with the operators, and in the office with customer service representatives. The head of IT needs a seat at the executive table; without this, ideas cannot be brought to the forefront of the company.

WOW Logistics embraced this collaborative approach to process creation, and the result has been a seamless union of technology and processes that helps us deliver industry-leading service to customers.

For example, in our distribution centers, the inbound Bill of Lading (BOL) is scanned into Microsoft SharePoint (our DMS). Attributes from the warehouse management system, such as customer, shipper number, transaction date, and item code are associated with the BOL. This allows the paperwork to be viewed at any time and located by searching for these key attributes. It also enables WOW to automatically send the paperwork to the customer at the time of receipt.

Many of our customers require a Certificate of Analysis (COA) to accompany their product. The COAs also arestored in SharePoint, so they can be automatically emailed to the customer and printedto send with the load when it is shipping from our distribution center. As a part of our document and workflow management, we require electronic signature from drivers when they pick up loads. This image is stored with the paperwork so it can be viewed and printed at any time.

With the rollout of this process, WOW Logistics was able to eliminate clerical time (and clerical errors) in the office,as well as increase customer satisfaction by providing them paperwork that is delivered in real time and stored for easy retrieval. But those outcomes never would have been realized without a firm understanding of processes and how technology could improve them further.

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