October 16, 2019 | Success Stories

Visibility Creates Big Picture Results

Leveraging Historical Data to Align Expectations & Improve Operations for a Fortune 100 Retailer

The customer is a multi-billion dollar Fortune 100 retailer with distribution centers across North America. They formed a partnership with NSSL for yard management services in 2011.

The Challenge

Several challenges faced us when we first began working with this customer. They had engaged NSSL as more of an operational partner, because they had an existing YMS that they chose not to integrate with Shuntware. Our team needed to get up to speed on their system quickly in order to start making adjustments and decisions based on data. Due to this learning curve and without having direct access to the data, it took longer than usual to get into the rhythm of smooth operations. We conducted quarterly reviews with the customer to look at our performance and discuss adjustments to the operation that would improve efficiency. However, we had a difficult time keeping the conversation focused on the overall picture of their yard operation, and instead often spent time discussing individual instances. It became clear to us that our relationship was suffering from a miscommunication of expectations, and that in order to repair it, we need to get on the same page...and quickly.

The Solution

We knew we had some work to do in maximizing the value of our conversations during our quarterly review meetings, so we set out to create a tool that would help keep us focused on the larger picture. Historical data is the key to evaluating the efficiency and effectiveness of a logistics operation. We decided to leverage data to help us guide our conversations with the customer so we could start making strategic strides toward improvement, rather than focusing on anecdotal information to make changes. We gathered feedback from the customer and collaborated together to decide which metrics would be most impactful to improving their yard management operations, as well as ensuring both parties’ productivity expectations (down to the individual driver level) were aligned. The tool took shape as an operational scorecard that encompassed these key performance indicators, which we began reviewing on a monthly basis.

The Results

The scorecard has provided visibility to both our team at NSSL and our customer in a single snapshot—helping both sides to level up the conversation to brainstorm and plan more strategically for better overall operational gains, rather than implementing change in reaction to individual incidents. The results of the scorecard are living proof that what gets measured, gets managed. For example, in the first several months that the scorecard was implemented, productivity improved by 33% and continues to improve today. This self accountability has helped us better align strategically with our customer and consistently deliver results we can be proud of.

The Conclusion

At NSSL, we hold ourselves accountable for continuous improvement because it’s our mission to help our customers achieve operational excellence in their yard operation. Data is at the heart of how we measure how we are living up to that promise. Since implementing the scorecard for this particular customer, we have continued to customize and use it for other customers with similar positive results both in the health of our relationships and the efficiency of our operations. Looking to the future, our team is working on creating a more automated version of this scorecard that can be fully integrated with Shuntware. The ultimate goal is visibility and accessibility from anywhere for both our customers and our team. We look forward to continuing to improve this tool and implementing it as a best practice that can someday make a difference for all of our NSSL customers.