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The COVID-19 pandemic has led to an increased demand for cargo transport due to the disrupted global supply chains, but also highlighted the urgent need to accelerate the digitalization processes of logistics companies.

One of our clients, a global leader in the multi-modal transportation industry, has recently launched a major Digital Transformation Program. We are helping them on the realization of this important strategic journey, by providing resources and expertise.

The first objective of the client’s program is IT driven; it consists of the replacement of a large set of outdated legacy applications used to run cargo operations. The second objective is process oriented and aims to integrate the business processes of the global forwarding division into the process & application landscape of another division. The program is composed of several projects within the framework of global network operations for freight transactions. One of the key projects is the Event Visibility project, which aims to deploy a real-time cargo tracking tool. This project covers the creation of an event database for the global forwarding division, and the associated deployment of an internally developed tracking tool. This in-house diagnostic solution is providing information on freight transport, including Piece-ID level visibility, all along the lifecycle of a shipment.

Avertim is supporting the client to secure the project delivery and implement the first phase under a very tight timeline, driven by a huge demand for retail and e-commerce shipments before the year-end peak season. Avertim is providing expertise related to PM and change management to ensure the success of the project.

This project is key for the client, and this for several reasons…

#1 The main objective of the project: offering a state-of-the-art tracking solution that provides full visibility across the operational lifecycle of a cargo shipment. From origin (network entry) to delivery (network exit), but also from container level to contract level up to Piece-ID level. It is this timely & accurate information at PID level which represents the main driver, and which is expected to leverage the most business benefits across departments. 

#2 The direct contribution to the necessary modernization and simplification of the IT landscape, as well as the mitigation of risks inherent to outdated technology. 

#3 The related harmonization of business processes across the client’s divisions, encouraged by the more widespread usage of global standard operating procedures. One concrete example is the standardization of operational activities in the warehouses/hubs for all the divisions and the use of common systems/tools/devices that can support it.

#4 The project can be considered as an accelerator for other projects that aim to provide visibility along pre- and post-operational events. These events represent a broader concept than operational checkpoints and will facilitate the adoption of events and sharing of information across domains. By having set the foundations, operational shipment lifecycle visibility can for example be extended to pre-operational events like booking or capacity management, but also to post-operational events like invoicing or claims management. This will ultimately stretch the visibility on the end-to-end shipment lifecycle, from the initial stage of booking … to the transport and delivery … until the final stage of invoicing…

#5 The project can be considered as an enabler for the implementation of a Piece-ID tracking solution for external parties. The event visibility is focusing on internal customers, but the mechanism can ultimately be extended to external customers (freight forwarders) or even customs administrations. 

How did Avertim manage the project?

Avertim provided consulting services to set the project back on track and to support the Program Manager across the complete project lifecycle.

Redefining the project scope, reviewing the project timeline and recommending a phased approach for the implementation were the very first actions that were undertaken. Then the priority was set to the review of the project governance as well as the definition and agreement on the project organization, roles & responsibilities. Subsequently, the communication with the project stakeholders was restored, both at Program and Project level. The next big step was the definition of the project deliverables and the associated work breakdown. This enabled the establishment of a detailed activity-based project plan, with clear milestones and owners.

Gradually the support evolved to two different types of activities.

On one hand there was the conventional project management area, with the continuous monitoring of the progress, the identification of risk & issues, the follow-up of actions, the coordination & communication, and last but not least the follow of the budget.

On the other hand it focused on expertise, with the delivery of a complete set of functional activities. Those were delivered in parallel with the technical / architectural decisions taken by the involved IT teams, and included:

  • the inventory of all the operational checkpoints that needed to be mapped to corresponding events and transferred to a new database
  • the identification of the data elements that should be displayed in the tracking tool
  • the analysis of the business requirements and redaction of the functional specifications
  • the review of the technical specifications and the follow-up of the build & the technical testing
  • the definition of the test approach and the validation of the functional test scenarios / user stories
  • the redaction of the scripts for the System Integration Tests and the User Acceptance Tests (UAT’s)
  • the planning, organization and coordination of the UAT’s
  • the execution of the UAT’s together with the key-users, representing the regions 
  • the preparation of the cut-over and the go-live activities
  • the move to production, the sanity checks and the subsequent hypercare
  • the communication related to the launch of the tracking tool and the change management aspects
  • the recording of the lessons learned and the project closure

What are the expected results / business benefits of the program & project ?

Business benefits of the deployment of the cargo tracking tool are expected in numerous domains.

The most straightforward benefits are obviously related to the complete, accurate and timely information available on the shipments at Piece-ID level. Now that the status of each piece is recorded in real-time as it moves through the network, operational teams will be able to perform more efficient planning, to make better decisions, to address delays as early as possible, …                                          

Other benefits are inherent to the nature of the tracking tool, which is enriched with Business Intelligence analytics. In addition to better system performance and an enhanced look-and-feel, the tracking tool will simplify the daily activities of operational & support teams, through advanced search options (like look-up on Piece-ID / movement reference / loading device), drill down possibilities, data export features, …

Potential benefits rely also on the possibility to share real-time shipment lifecycle information at Piece-ID level with external customers. These are the freight forward companies, serving as intermediary on the contract chain, which could on their turn provide additional Piece-ID visibility to their own customers and offer them a better service.

Other future benefits might be the prospect to answer increasing demands of local customs authorities for an inventory at Piece-ID Level for all pieces that enter and leave facilities. (The list of benefits illustrated above is certainly not exhaustive)

How can clients be supported in similar projects?

Transportation & Mobility clients can be supported at several stages of their digital transformation programs/projects, from the very early analysis phase, until the final deployment of a solution. 

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