Working with really huge companies can often lead to misunderstandings around scale. In particular, understanding how ‘big’ something is (and you can quite often interchange ‘big’ and ‘important’).
When you’re in the thick of it, running around on the shop floor, trying to make everything happen, it always feels important.
That’s how it was for me in a previous job working on the school uniform fulfillment operations for a big supermarket. The numbers seemed huge, we were dealing with thousands of orders, and tens of thousands of garments each week.
When the summer peak came, we’d done the work to monitor the numbers in/out and it was becoming clear that we had a problem. We just couldn’t keep up. Even operating 24/7 for a number of weeks, with extra shifts, the numbers were too big (much bigger than forecast). We were stressed, overloaded, and unhappy – despite every day recording record numbers of dispatches.
Some months later, after the dust settled, we had a debrief meeting which included a chance to present our operational plan for the next year. Our point of contact was excited because his boss’s boss’s boss was coming to see what was going on, partly because of the noise generated earlier in the summer.
At some point during the meeting (which was going well), the top boss asked “what’s the size of this category?”
“About X orders per day at peak” said our contact.
“What’s that in pounds?”
“Oh…. so it’s less than – say – bananas. On a bad day.”
There was no malice or condescension intended, only a clarification of the scale of things. The operation we had wrestled with over the past months – to us the biggest thing we’d ever worked on – was, even at its peak, still small when compared with daily grocery buying.
Whatever the size of a business, the people who work in it want to feel in control. They want to delight their customers, and still make it home on time for dinner.
With Tracker, I am bringing technology from my experience with big business, into operations of all sizes. From those who handle thousands of orders a week, to those who handle thousands per year. All of them need up to date information, so they can understand what’s going on and make decisions.
If your business has a crazy seasonal peak, if you need help planning your operations, or just want get more in control of what’s going on in your business, book a call with me to see if I can help.