“If You Can't Measure it, You Can't Improve it.” Service, Efficiency and Good Data

By Ali Kamil, Wise Systems Co-Founder

Management Guru, Peter Drucker, is widely known for his legendary quote "If you can't measure it, you can't improve it." That truth applies to virtually every industry, especially logistics.

If you manage a fleet and your goal is to improve any aspect of your operation, the starting place is your baseline data:

  • How many miles/day does your fleet run?

  • What is your average service time per delivery?

  • How many deliveries/day per driver?

  • What is your team’s on-time percentage?

  • What do each driver’s performance numbers show?

The challenge is that many fleet operations teams don’t have complete data; they have a patchwork of information, e.g., total fleet miles, total driver hours, and perhaps an estimated service time that they use for general planning purposes. Most are critically aware of what they don’t have. But in the absence of staff, budget or technology, teams rely instead on incomplete data and intuition to fill the gaps and build complex route plans. Without data, teams don’t have visibility into what’s working, what’s not, or opportunities for improvement.

In our work, we often find that the first order of business is to collect an accurate and comprehensive baseline of fleet data. This is essential for creating a complete picture of how a fleet is really working. Along the way, most companies find:

  • Planned vs. actual routes aren’t what they had expected, either in terms of extra miles, on-time deliveries, or time on site during deliveries.

  • Driver performance isn’t uniform across the fleet, which is attributable to a variety of factors, including the route distance and stops, the size of customers on the route, geography around customer location (e.g., urban vs. suburban), and driver experience or expertise.

  • Customer performance is often uneven, with some customers keeping drivers on site much longer than expected.

  • Fleet performance drops when new drivers are added, due to increases in service times or other delays, which may frustrate customers.

But, with comprehensive fleet data, companies can:

  • Set fleet performance goals and assess progress over time.

  • Optimize route plans based on accurate service-time information for each location.

  • Improve driver onboarding, with sensitivity to customers that may be high risk due to service-level interruptions/changes

  • Identify coaching opportunities for drivers, based on data about route execution.

With an ever-expanding appreciation for the complexities and opportunities presented by the last mile, combined with a relentless focus on meeting customer commitments, good data is a baseline requirement for teams that want to compete successfully. After all, your customers are judging your fleet on your ability to rapidly meet their needs; you need a view for understanding how you deliver, and data is the window.

Background on Peter Drucker