December 3, 2021

The 4 biggest excuses not to automate

And why you’ll dismiss them

So here we are, about to turn the calendar over, and we all know what that means. Time to take stock, reset and remodel ourselves. Again. We’ll list out all those positive changes and good habits. You know, the same ones we swore we’d adopt last year. And the year before that.

Trouble is, by about January 22, we’ve managed to locate all the excuses necessary to break every one of those commitments we made to ourselves. For some reason, convenient and readily available excuses seem to exert so much power over us.

But what if they didn’t have that power? What if they didn’t add up or even make sense? What if all we saw was the upside?

The devilish power of excuses

For example, let’s say that while watching a ballgame or mini-series with a friend, perhaps after some thick crust pizza and a cocktail or two, you both agree to commit to digitizing and automating your companies’ supply chains over the coming year. That’s a very noble, very healthy goal. Ambitious, too. Maybe the two of you even make a small wager on it, to hold each other accountable.

But as the new year begins, and you start considering a few things, the excuses begin to invade, clouding your vision, restricting your purpose, and slowly, but steadily breaking down your confidence. You must fight them. You can’t let your friend get the best of you. What if she ignores her own excuses? What if she can see through them? Not only would you lose your wager, but you’d also have to live with her company’s superior efficiency and value moving forward.

Perhaps if we acknowledge the excuses, lay them out and expose their inherent flawed logic, you too can get past them and realize it’s all so much more achievable than you imagined.

Excuse No. 1: We can’t afford to do it

This one is so common it borders on cliché. But in fairness, costs are always on our minds. And since we’re talking about something that affects an entire company—these projects tend to be a collective buying decision—at any given time there are likely other investments different leaders or departments want to make. So, the cost concern is inevitably going to come up. We’ll address it first.

No one is saying that digitization and automation is a cheap proposition. But you very likely can afford it. First of all, you don’t have to tackle everything at once. In fact, we typically don’t recommend that. This game-changing effort is brilliant in that you can automate a piece of the big puzzle and immediately begin to see benefits, both administrative and financial. Much like seeing early progress on one of your other new year’s resolutions, say a diet program, this early gratification you get from automating one area of your supply chain helps build enthusiasm for expanding the effort, both in yourself and anyone else who might need encouragement.

Furthermore, given the competitive business environment, and the challenges supply chains face today, it’s becoming more and more evident that the financial benefits simply cannot be ignored or put off. Automation is going to help you make better use of personnel. It’s going to save money by reducing errors. It’s going to boost customer service, too. And ultimately, the increased efficiency and productivity will increase the value of the company. Understanding all of this, you really can’t afford not to digitize and automate.

Excuse No. 2: It’s too big

If you were to make a goal to run a marathon in 2022, particularly if you weren’t a runner, you couldn’t expect to accomplish that right away. If you follow a proven, step-by-step process, taking on a little more as you go, you’d be amazed at what you could accomplish. More than you ever thought possible. That’s why there are countless success stories of marathoners who, when they started, had never run more than a mile.

In the supply chain optimization world, we have quite a few stories just like that. We’ve coached companies on how to take on a digital transformation, something many had never committed to in the past. And much like a trainer or coach would do, we tailor the process to each company’s situation, resources and needs. Starting small and building steadily always gets results. It might be one process: order entry or an inventory management function. It might be one department like shipping. But we follow a smart, deliberate, step-by-step method that can then be expanded as you go. It’s not too big.

Excuse No 3: We don’t have the time (manpower)

Yes, you do. Anyone at any company can ask people to assess their performance as well as their team’s and have them put numbers to it. In the early stages of the digital transformation journey, assessment is what you’re doing. A cold, hard, honest evaluation of where you are now is what’s required. Think of it as taking inventory. Instead of products or materials, it’s an inventory of your processes. How much time, in manhours, goes into correctly submitting orders? How much time and money is required to deal with transactional mistakes or oversights? Are you capturing available discounts? Are you teaming up with the ideal supplier partners? Are those relationships working as efficiently as possible?

These are questions you’d want answers to whether you were planning to automate or not. There is always time for such assessment. Once you’ve determined where you stand, you can begin to prioritize what needs fixing or enhancing, and then get to testing out possible solutions and, ultimately, implementing them.

What’s more, you’re not doing this alone. In the same way you might engage a nutritionist to help you lose weight, or a running coach to help you train for that marathon, you’d have expert consultants helping guide your digital transformation journey. A lot of the time you might’ve spent trying to figure out what to do or how to do it has already been done by companies like yours. Best practices have been developed and are readily available to you.

Excuse No. 4: I don’t know where to start

At one time or another, we’ve all found ourselves staring at a big project that we need to tackle: maybe adding a family room to the house or restoring a classic car. Problem was that to do A, you first had to address B. But to address B, you needed to purchase a C, and those are on backorder. In the meantime, you could deal with D, but that would require you to find an E… you get the point. Where do you start?

When you look at the prospect of digitizing and automating your entire supply chain, it’s easy to be overwhelmed. You’re not alone. But in this case, knowing where to start, and for that matter, where to proceed from there, might be the easiest part. You see, your digital transformation journey has a road map, and you can find it right here.

No more excuses

Taking on any new, big challenge will naturally court doubts. There are always a lot of questions that somehow manage to morph into those excuses that hold us back. How much will it cost? How long will it take? Where do I start? How do I convince my board of directors to invest the money? How do I get everybody on staff eager to make it happen?

We have walked our customers through the process and answered all the questions above. And along the way, we’ve developed and continuously refined a process that breaks down Digital Transformation into a series of steps that any company can, and really should, undertake. You can refer to our Transformation Roadmap or view a brief webinar about what those steps are. Doing so will begin to render all those potential excuses obsolete.