By Kingsley Nwabugwu
Last week, the news broke that a delivery man for one of Nigeria’s foremost solely online stores was gruesomely murdered by persons whom he had gone to deliver items to. It sent shock waves around the social media space. Questions like as to why a person would do such to a human for the item amidst others graced numerous timelines and blogs.
A video also made the rounds, showing the alleged killers – ironically, also customers of the store – making statements of the different roles they played in the debacle. With the conflicting stories offered, what remains, is for the security operatives to do a thorough job and bring all involved parties to book.
However, while watching that video, a statement by one of the accused persons caught my attention. When he was asked if the online store had called him, he replied in the negative, that is, the firm hadn’t called him. That little exchange, hit me like a ton of bricks.
What? I quipped? So the firm who owned the items, sent the delivery man to do his job and unfortunately (and unintentionally, I must add) to his early grave, hadn’t called the client who was meant to receive the goods, especially since the delivery man hadn’t returned as scheduled? What a dropped ball! I struggled to imagine the kind of management system in place especially if we consider that this accused person’s word was true.
This brings me to the crux of the matter – Journey Management System. In today’s click, search, order and deliver world, solely powered by the internet, the need for any business, online or offline, to have a Journey Management System that is up to scratch is non-negotiable.
Journey Management System, JMS for short, is a system that deals with the entire pre-planning, scheduling and tracking of all movements by representatives or staff in the course of carrying out a firm’s business.
This stretches from movements within the premises of the organization (assuming the organization’s complex is huge) to movements without the premises. Generally, movements without the organization’s premises are more common. They could include transportation of staff from designated pickup locations to and fro the office premises, to delivery of customer wares to clients on the behalf of the company to mention but a few examples.
In reality, to say there isn’t a JMS already deployed in organizations, such as the one in the story above, would be untrue or at least unfair. However, there are chinks in that armor. One of such, is that these delivery systems are outsourced to another vendor which isn’t bad in totality. However, with that outsourcing comes an unspoken and unwritten hands-off rule that leaves the vendor with all the responsibility to ensure that the goods get to the customers as soon as possible. Of course, this comes with a clause, which charges the vendor for failing to do so.
As great as outsourcing is, this attitude by organizations, trades off robust quality monitoring of outsourced contractors/vendors for effectiveness and delivery to the client, with an eye on the economic baseline for the organization. Talk about that age-old war between operations and safety!
Truth be told, in some instances, there are attempts to have quality control systems monitor vendors/contractors, but one gets the sense that it is more about having it for brand visibility sakes, other than a thorough commitment to it.
Another glaring flaw is the focus by all parties in the chain – parent company, vendor, client – on just the item being purchased while ignoring the delivery person and vehicle used to get the item to the client. Yes, in some instances, the outsourced vendor providing the delivery service, has tracking systems for its vehicles, but it is more tuned towards the more obvious risk of loss of goods to be delivered, vehicles making the delivery, than the minor (in their view) risk of loss of life of the delivery service person, as evidenced in this case.
So what can be done? First off, the company must ensure that its Journey Management System is up to scratch, covering as many risks as possible and reducing to as low as reasonably possible, the likelihood of other unforeseen risks happening. In the event that it decides to outsource its delivery or transportation service to a third party contractor, a robust system must be put in place to monitor the vendor and its ensure that its journey management system isn’t just in place but as detailed as the parent company’s.
Also, as a step forward, specific types of service offerings – like home delivery – should carry more detailed guidelines. Perhaps, making them more available to only frequent clients instead of first time clients would go some extent to reducing this risk. Even then, protocols (known to delivery personnel) like getting the delivery personnel to call once he/she arrives at a client location (before meeting the client) and when they leave the location can help.
A step up would be to have trackers installed which would function independently of the delivery person, providing real time detail on his/her location while on the course of a delivery. This may remove the need to call the client to confirm receipt except a company also insists on having that as part of their customer satisfaction drive.
In conclusion, the need for a robust Journey Management System for any organization cannot be overstated. Even in homes, it is also applicable and crucial. It may not necessarily be grand, but it needs to be effective and must address all spheres of the business’s activities.
Remember, safety first, safety always.
Kingsley Nwabugwu is a Petroleum Engineer, NEBOSH Certified Safety Professional and Public Affairs Analyst. He can be reached on twitter @kisilyn, email on firstname.lastname@example.org