Commentary | IT Matters

Gamification: A New Way of Tracking and Improving KPIs

Tags: Labor Management, Logistics, Technology

Jeremy Boudinet is a Sales Coach at Ambition, 901-489-4782

Harnessing and optimizing new technology has always been a cornerstone of the logistics sector. Dating back to 1781, when James Watt patented the first continuously rotating steam combustion engine, logistics has evolved by capitalizing on technological breakthroughs and innovations. So, perhaps it is only appropriate that an industry initially built on the back of the industrial revolution is now undergoing another massive transformation: software.

Information Overload

Logistics managers now have unprecedented access to information that can increase organizational efficiency, improve leanness of operations, save costs, measure employee performance, and predict future revenue. In the context of inbound logistics, logistics managers already have a wealth of information about how their brokers are performing. Management can measure the accuracy of shipping processes, orders acknowledged and order fill rate, and timely shipments, for example.

Yet, with this access to information comes a new quandary for logistics executives and management: how to efficiently organize and optimize the data to improve operations. Knowledge may be power, but only when the information gleaned is accurate, understandable, and organized. Information overload is a barrier to the latter two requirements. In many cases, the important data on these varying KPIs is spread out and unwieldy in scope.

As a result, logistics companies face a maddeningly ironic problem: in an industry focused on efficiency, there is rampant inefficient use of internal metrics. Not only are many companies failing to utilize critical internal information to optimize operations, they lack efficient access to their key performance indicators (KPI), or worse, the KPI data itself is disorganized or stored inefficiently.

Gamification as a Solution

To combat this problem, the logistics industry can take a cue from an emerging software industry trend: the gamification of the sales process by KPI performance. Gamification frames employee performance as part of a game or competition. In essence, these software platforms take internal productivity data, such as KPIs, and organize, measure, score, and display the key metrics of each employee’s performance in the context of an intra-office competition.

Most popular software programs on the market work by fully integrating with existing company customer relationship management solutions, phone systems, and home-grown legacy systems by accepting regular CSV exports. From there, they process the data received – which can be anything from a broker’s number of outbound calls, to margin-per-load for the week, to profit-per-call during the month. The real-time data on these KPIs is displayed not just to the employee and supervisor, but to the entire office. The data is not only understandable and accessible; it is now fully transparent to the entire office.

Transparency breeds accountability, and the competition fosters motivation. Team-based competitions, office-wide notifications announcing when an employee has reached a major performance benchmark, and unique forms of recognition such as weekly titles are all major components of many solutions available right now.

In the context of the logistics industry, the opportunities presented by gamification to optimize KPIs, improve operational efficiency, and promote a more engaged, motivated work force hold particular potential. In terms of industry impact, these software programs might not be the next steam combustion engine, but they just might hold the key to transforming a logistics company into a leaner, more organized, and better focused organization.