Blog April 11, 2024

Digital Transformation Roadmaps: How Technology Helps Effectively Achieve Business Goals

By Mathieu Galipeau 
April 11th | 3 min read

A Focus on Digital Transformation Roadmaps

In our latest “Ask Mat” blog post, Mathieu Galipeau tackles a common client inquiry on how to execute successful digital transformation initiatives and maximize the value of their technology investments.

Ask Mat: How can supply chain technology help us achieve our goals?

As businesses intensify their investments in digital capabilities across their enterprise, the question arises: How can supply chain technology help us achieve our goals more effectively? This is a question that comes up often in my line of work, as many businesses don’t have a clear understanding on where they want to go with their technology or how it will meet their needs.

Let me guide you through the process to properly answer this question using Digital Transformation Roadmaps (DTR).

The Pressure to Digitize

Businesses are ramping up their digital capabilities to support new initiatives, enhance supply chain process efficiency and productivity, improve decision-making, and boost resilience in the face of ongoing supply chain disruptions. This surge in digital investment places supply chain leaders under tremendous pressure to transform their operations. However, as I mentioned earlier, many encounter the challenge of not having a clear understanding of where they want to go with their technology or how it will meet their needs.

The risk of a non-defined roadmap

Most business solutions claim they can do just about anything, until it’s time to integrate them into your daily operations. Let’s start with the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) tool. The ERP is the perfect example of this, known as the jack of all trades, and a master of none. This isn’t to say that the ERP isn’t a critical part of the software portfolio. Au contraire, it’s typically the backbone, the foundation of your system architecture, Master of Data and source of truth for making well informed business decisions.

It’s crucial for a business to understand where the ERP functionalities meet business requirements, and where they fall short. They tend to fall short where you have the highest complexity in your operations. Luckily, there are complimentary area specific solutions to solve for these: Sales and Operation Planning Tools (S&OP), Customer Relationship Manager (CRM), Warehouse Management System (WMS), Transport Management systems (WMS), and the list goes on…

Understanding what features are required to support your operations, as well as what application tier these typically reside in are part of building a robust and flexible system architecture that allows you to scale and adapt to new business initiatives. Failing to do so tends to lead to a rigid system which lacks functionality in key areas, never-ending integrations, loss of motivation and buy-in from the team and little system adoption.

Here is how to translate a digital supply chain vision into an actionable plan.

The first and most important step is diagnosis.

One of the most common challenges I see is companies looking at system feature sets and trying to figure out how their teams could benefit from them, versus solving operational challenges through technology. This is a subtle difference, that leads to vastly different results.

For this reason, is it important to assess how technology can support operations by starting from the operational requirements and then identifying the associated feature sets; thus, the creation of the term DevOps.

To the risk of sounding generic, good process definition starts from process maps: who is completing the task, what are they trying to accomplish, and what subsequent step in the process does this impact. Once that is confirmed we can identify when data is created, how is it propagated, and who required it.

This lays the groundwork for gaining a deeper understanding of the technology stack needed to support your goals effectively.

Once the requirements are established, we can look a designing the solution.

It involves creating a governance framework for data, processes, and decision-making, ensuring strong collaboration across the business and preventing a bottom-up technology approach that fails to support future business capabilities and needs.

To do so, we must first look at how these features and data integration points fit into the puzzle. To do so, we establish the level of complexity related to each feature set. For example, receiving a purchase order. Can this purchase order be received on multiple receipts, are we expecting to use mobile data capture, can we expect to have an Advanced Shipment Notice (ASN), should we complete quality assessment based on complex criteria, are we completing directed putaway by zone temperature, etc. Depending on these answers, we’ll identify this feature as belonging in the ERP, requiring an addon to the ERP, or being a standalone WMS functionality. We then circle through all features evaluating these elements.

Once that is done, we now understand the different business solutions that make up our software portfolio. From there, we map system integrations to ensure that each business solution has the right information, at the right so that users can complete required tasks.

Finally, we define the roadmap.

Establishing a future state system architecture and associated iterative development approach considers immediate opportunities, process and data ownership, and critical feature deployment dependencies.

I believe it’s a fallacy to believe the best approach is always to implement in a “Big Bang” method. A well thought out deployment roadmap allows you to reduce initial implementation timeline and risk, as well as address key challenges allowing for easier adoption and change management. This isn’t to be confused with an agile product development methodology; you know your desired system architecture; you’ve just decided to break it down in smaller deployments.

A well-defined roadmap ensures you are building a robust and scalable system acritude while quickly addressing critical elements and bringing value to your business. A poorly, or worst yet, undefined roadmap can lead to the horror stories everyone fears.


Learn More About Our Digital Transformation Services

Let’s build world-class infrastructure together.

Book a Consultation

Are you ready for logistics automation?

Take our readiness quiz to find out!

Begin Assessment