Segregating Duties in Operations

As an ‘Operations guy’, I am asked periodically, “What should we do to become more efficient in Operations?” My answer is typically “Become better dispatchers”, but what does that mean exactly? Many people do not understand specifically what it entails to work in Operations. Most companies fail to understand how each individual role plays an integral part in the success of the company.

First, let us break down the typical roles in Operations and how they interact with each other. In most cases you have three roles in Dispatch, which are (1)Customer Service, (2)Load Planner, and (3)Driver Manager. The increasing trend I have seen among companies is that they will expect each employee to perform each role, simultaneously among their teams, with no separation of the responsibilities. Each dispatcher (1)first starts off communicating with the customers to take orders and enter them into the system, (2)they will then take those available orders and plan them on a driver, (3)finally they will make sure that the drivers pickup and deliver the loads. As you can see, we have tasks that equate to those three main roles.

For years I have watched companies  struggle to gain efficiency in Operations before I understood why. Ironically, it took an experience with my teenager to help me see the inefficiency was due to lack of separating responsibilities. One day, as I was talking to my daughter about her school, she mentioned they were changing from seven 50 minute classes a day to four 90 minute classes a day. It made sense due to the fact that students already lose class time from packing/unpacking, settling into each classroom, and transitioning into new subject matter. The increased time for her subjects lead to my ah-ha moment, schools don’t expect students to learn each subject simultaneously. They separate subjects into different classes to allow focus, and then they ensure adequate time for those studies.  It is more efficient that way, so why not segregate duties at companies?

I have worked with many dispatchers who are very skilled at what they do, and they are responsible for all of the above roles. However, even they have mentioned that if they could concentrate on one role at a time, they would be more efficient. That is why at ASR, when we visit a client to help train their Operations team, we provide guidance on segregation of duties. We’ve even created a workflow to show how these roles function. Every company is different and this strategy may not be ideal for all, but as a whole we have found that transitioning to specific roles for each employee is the ideal way to gain efficiency.


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