Parcel - October 2008 - (Page 24)

operations MOVING FROM MANUAL TO AUTOMATED FULFILLMENT Part III: A comprehensive guide to weighing your options By Dennis Dearth W LOEBBAKA: Various automation solutions had been considered over the years. However, none were adopted due to the nature of the business at the time. When one of our key clients began to experience 60% club membership growth, our manual pick and pack processes soon required us to flex in 20 additional temps on top of the 20 already augmenting our permanent staff. We just could not keep up with demand otherwise, but it was painfully clear that this was not profitable and unsustainable for future growth. Continuing to add headcount was simply not the answer. DEARTH: So the automation adoption decision was easy at that point then? LOEBBAKA: Well, the issue itself was certainly clear. As with all significant capital and process investments, however, we had to develop the financial models for ROI and select the most appropriate automation solution and then prove our case for automation to senior management. The key was to understand that this was a viable, growing aspect of the business and that to ensure continued success with our current clients — let alone grow the base — we had to invest in solutions that could help us become less manually constrained and get product out the door more quickly and efficiently. DEARTH: I’m sure that you set some specific project goals — how did you define and measure success and how did your results compare? LOEBBAKA: Yes, we did set specific goals that we intended to achieve with this project. First, we wanted to ensure that we never exceeded a two-day service level for any regular shipment from the point of order receipt through pushing the package out the door. We have been roughly 85% successful in meeting or exceeding this goal. So, pretty good but we can continue to improve. Additionally, we intended that our fulfillment cycle for elcome to the final portion of our three-part series, Moving from Manual to Automated Fulfillment. In the first portion, we discussed considerations for adopting automation vs. expanding manual operations, how to arrive at “real” costs in the comparison of the two and some suggestions on how to structure the project. Part II addresses how to determine the feasibility of tackling these kinds of projects internally, what level of planning and resource commitment is required from the client side, how long it may take and the pieces involved in switching over to automation. In Part III, we will finish with a project-specific discussion with our client, Paul Loebbaka, the Managing Director of Fulfillment for Alta Resources. DEARTH: Paul, let’s start by giving some background on Alta Resources — who are they? LOEBBAKA: Alta Resources provides a range of outsourced services including relationship sales, one-to-one marketing, consumer direct-order marketing, consumer care, business intelligence, IT services and fulfillment for a variety of customers across diverse industries. Our origins are in the customer relationship and service end of the business, which then naturally grew to include fulfillment as a means of providing additional service offerings to our clients. DEARTH: What drove the automation adoption decision in your case? 24 October 2008

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Parcel - October 2008

Parcel - October 2008
Editor's Note
What Would Augello Say?
Best Practices Survey Results
Going with the Flow
Is Your Parcel Network Optimized?
Last (Mile), but Not Least
Moving From Manual to Automated Fulfillment
A Race for Excellence
Making Ends Meet
Is Your Job Killing You?
Software Selection Demystified
Controlling Costs
On the Mark
Product Profile
New Products & Services
Advertiser Index
Wrap Up

Parcel - October 2008