The chosen methodology of purchasing a courier information system directly from the vendor can have problems during the initial stages. It requires changes in infrastructure, equipment and training. All of this needs capital investment.
A preliminary analysis of the requirements shows that about two computers in every office would be minimum required the number of computers depending on the volume of packages handled at a branch. The depot manager should have his own exclusive computer with access to tracking packages. While the depot manager is internally LAN connected with the local computer, his computer should be WAN connected with the computers of the depot managers in the remaining nine centres and the Hendon Office.
Once networked, it is important to have Windows OS, the IT solution purchased internet connection and other computer accessories such as printers and fax machines. I suggest the purchase of Courier Complete. Courier Complete is an IT product consisting of three main components: Operations component, Web Component and two-way data component. The operations component is a client/server Windows/SQL Server 2000-based application that manages all aspects of operations, including dispatch, customer service, order entry, and A/R, and produces a variety of management reports. Using the web component, customers can enter and track their orders, receive real-time email or fax notifications of completed deliveries, view their invoices, search their order history, and obtain price quotes. The two-way data component enables dispatchers to send detailed order information to a driver’s mobile device. Drivers use their mobile devices to accept new job notifications and to update dispatchers about the status of deliveries as they occur.
The Windows-based Courier Software & Delivery Software is specifically designed for the courier, messenger, expediting and distribution industries, and it automates the front office, back-end business and in-field courier processes, including online customer order entry, accounts receivable, real-time delivery tracking, and account information. It uses wireless two-way data technology (WAP, BlackBerry® or Windows Mobile) to enable dispatchers to send detailed order information to a driver’s device wirelessly. Drivers can view and interact with the information on their devices and keep dispatchers up to date by remotely updating the status of pickups and deliveries. Customers of 247 Overnight Couriers can enter and track their orders online and receive real-time email notifications of completed deliveries.
Changes in information technology should also be followed by a corresponding change in structure and management practices. Generally, employees are likely to resist change. People resist change for many reasons: when there is a lack of clarity regarding the change; when there are doubts in the minds of the employees; when people feel ignored; when the change seems to bring in new patterns of working relationships; when there is lack of communication; when people are not convinced about the benefits of change; or when the change leads to job-cuts; However, it has been found that people accept change more readily – if they find the information provided to them acceptable; if they are able to understand the benefits of the change; if they perceive it as safe; if they feel there is a need for the change; if there is a plan to implement the change in phases.
At 247 Overnight Couriers, it is important for the Depot Manager to keep his staff well informed. He must get their opinion on the nature of computerisation, inform them of the benefits of computerisation, how it will reduce their workload and save time for them and finally, he should ensure they get trained properly for the new job of handling computers. This would reduce resistance to change.
When an IT solution is implemented, there are likely to be problems in safety and security areas. If a hard disk collapses, it is possible to lose all the data. Hence, one needs to have daily backup documentation. Access to computers should be password protected. This will ensure that not everyone will have access to vital data. Computers and software need to be protected from viruses and legal liabilities. A firewall puts restrictions on what information can come through to the computer and is very important when there is an internet connection. Microsoft Windows offers built in firewall protection, and third party firewall programs include ZoneAlarm and Norton Personal Firewall. Computers must be protected against viruses which are small programs that can cause damage to data or operating systems. It is important that the latest version of antivirus software such as McAfee, Symantec, or Trend Micro is installed that is up to date with the latest virus definitions.
The depot manager is likely to get stressed in a newly computerised environment. Reducing the number of subordinates can influence morale and productivity, and he has to deal with such issues. Next, due to the increasing workload, depot managers can get tired and frustrated. Computerisation makes it possible for top management people such as the CEO, the Finance Director, Secretary or HR assistant to directly talk to the personnel in the front office skipping information through the depot manager. This can cause demotivation in depot managers. He needs to be encouraged through salary bonuses, holidays, etc. Thus, there are some problems in implementing information technology solutions at 247 Overnight Couriers. But with a little strategic planning, these issues can be overcome and only through acceptance of new technology the company can move forward.