Implementation makes or breaks technology success

Implementation makes or breaks technology success

In anticipation of the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate being signed into law and effective in late 2016, fleets are investigating technology options for becoming compliant. While fleets are currently focused on choosing a provider/system that automates hours-of-service (HOS) tracking, implementation is key to system use and adoption. Louis McAnally, CTP vice president operations for PeopleNet provides proven techniques that PeopleNet has used to help thousands of fleets successfully implement new technology.

There are low-cost, single-function ELD systems with limited capabilities and more comprehensive event onboard recording (EOBR) solutions that address a wider range of issues (speed monitoring, engine fault code monitoring, speed alarms, fuel consumption and more) to help companies meet a broader range of safety and performance goals. No matter what kind of system you choose, you get one chance to implement it, so do it right.

Rule #1: Know the end-game before you begin

Also known as a roadmap, this detailed implementation plan reflects leadership’s vision for the project. It is essential for success in moving the organization through a major cultural change from manual to electronic—whether the implementation happens all at once or incrementally in phases. Piecemeal plans that don’t encompass the project’s vision could lead to mistakes and false starts.

A plan should list each task on the day it is to be completed and who will be accountable for the task—start to finish. The more complex an implementation is—whether there are 50 or 250 tasks—the greater the need for adherence to the game plan. Detailing the project helps keep it on track budget wise, time wise and resource wise.

Rule #2: Create a cross-functional team to own the program

This is the playlist of who will be completing the tasks you’ve detailed in your ELD implementation plan. This team consists of representatives who are responsible for diverse functions that are critical for the implementation. Make them accountable for the project’s success and reporting progress throughout the implementation:

  • Management Representative — This person is responsible for the overall success of the implementation program. By confirming management’s commitment to the project, this representative fosters support throughout the organization. This person is typically in a leadership position that requires understanding of the company’s vision, such as the vice president of strategic planning, operations, or whoever heads up the safety/compliance effort.
  • Operations Representative — This person is responsible for planning, dispatch and driver activities; in other words, ensuring day-to-day use of the technology. It is critical that this person buy into the vision since their personnel must live with the results that the implementation ultimately generates. Users must understand that ELD is not optional; it’s the law.
  • Technology Representative — This person is responsible for network connectivity and all third-party applications that support the end-to-end system. Operations relies on this person to ensure the technology performs at a high level day in and day out. For fleets leveraging their ELD solution to gain efficiencies across their operation, it is important to maintain the perspective that operational improvement is driving the use of technology, rather than technology driving operational processes.
  • Maintenance Representative — This person is responsible for management of onboard computer (OBC) inventory, installation and service. Be sure to include access to the engine control module (ECM) that enables generation of truck and driver performance data such as fault codes, MPG and other safety indicators. In turn, this data provides management valuable information to make better fleet management decisions, achieve ROI, and ensure ELD compliance.
  • Finance Representative — Fleets implementing a more sophisticated ELD solution to help them achieve greater performance rely on this person to manage and issue analyses of key performance indicators (KPIs), such as scorecards, dashboards and other measurement tools, and comparative progress reports. Determine five or six measurements of success for your operation, and rely on your provider to identify the source of the data to support these KPIs and deliver accurate scorecards.
  • Driver Manager Representative — This person is responsible for driver adoption and use by managing training, peer communication, and other initiatives that create successful use of the technology from day one. Driver support is key to compliance with the ELD law.

There’s one more member of your team who plays a key role in making your implementation a success—your technology provider. Think of this person as the mortar that cements the various representative bricks to ensure that a solid foundation is being built. You should feel confident that the provider you select will not only meet your expectations, but deliver results fueled with ROI as a true partner.

Proven techniques for your team

Now that the division of responsibilities is clear, let’s help these folks out with some proven techniques that make a real difference in many successful implementations.

  • Management Representative—Communicate early and often. Think of it as a mini marketing campaign to sell the project’s success. Generate excitement, remove doubt and create the expectation for a positive experience. Use a variety of vehicles such as posters, emails and newsletters. A live presentation by your supplier/partner in which successes with their other customers are discussed will let your organization know you’re working with the right firm.
  • Operations Representative—Paint a picture of what the typical workday will look like and how it will change for the better. Describe how much easier life will be when a few keystrokes replace time-consuming manual processes. As with any culture change, be conscious of apprehension and try to alleviate fear. Assure those whose work will be impacted that they will be able to redirect the time they save to more important tasks that will help the organization and enhance their personal value to the organization.
  • Technology Representative—Although this is your domain, embrace the provider as an extension of your team. This partnership will go a long way in enhancing your domain. Challenging your ally to prove their product will help ensure that your users will experience impeccable service.
  • Maintenance Representative—Make sure your supplier is able to train and certify your technicians, so they can install the new system and share pride of ownership. Provide them access to your supplier’s technical support resource for fast and reliable service. Also conduct a pre-installation that establishes an approved model for the larger-scale implementation.
  • Finance Representative—Make sure you know what the exact ROI is before you ever start the project. Accept nothing less than a detailed description that reflects your organization’s specific operation and how your bottom line will be impacted. Know when your investment will be returned before you ever begin. Monitor progress closely and report to management every week to ensure visibility and a clear path to any issue resolution that may be required.
  • Driver Manager Representative—Build a network of driver ambassadors who represent each location. Train them first and leverage their expertise as mentors for other drivers. Hearing positive opinions about the new technology from their own peers becomes irrefutable testimony. I’ve seen this driver-to-driver communication spread like wildfire; if the news is good, the impact is priceless. Utilize printed in-cab driver instruction materials so drivers can be successful the first time they use the new technology.

One chance to do it right

It’s critical to define the project by expected outcomes rather than a generic “technology integration.” People want to know how the new technology is going to work, why the company is investing in it, how it will improve the financial outcome, how it will impact operations, and how it will improve service to customers. Keeping information flowing about these issues eliminates surprises and mystery that can undermine adoption and success. Bottom line? That is the bottom line.


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