Work in the warehouse is changing rapidly. Fulfilling e-commerce demand direct to consumers, shipping smaller, more frequent orders to customers, and integrating robotics and advanced automation mean there is no more “business as usual.” Today, distribution managers don’t have time to create manual work schedules that are obsolete by the time they’re finished and result in inefficient use of increasingly expensive labor. Managers need new tools that automatically match labor to work requirements as the work changes over the day and week.

At the same time, the warehouse workforce is also changing. They are young, well-educated, digital-native, and view work as a means to support their lifestyles. They know they have options in the gig economy, especially with the shortage of skilled labor, and expect their jobs to be engaging and motivating, with flexible, transparent scheduling. Distribution managers are under tremendous pressure, therefore, to attract, motivate and retain this new workforce while driving efficiency and productivity in fulfilling the needs of the digital economy. This requires new, more flexible and comprehensive, mobile-enabled tools.

4 Jobs of Distribution Managers

With the changing fulfillment requirements in the warehouse coupled with the changing needs of the workforce, today’s distribution managers must perform four jobs simultaneously. First, they must accurately forecast long-term staffing needs so they can hire the right people with the right skills, as well as redeploy and/or retrain existing staff, to meet expected demand.

Second, they must accurately match labor resources to fast-changing daily and hourly fulfillment requirements to maximize customer service and efficiency. This requires automated scheduling that recognizes immediate demand, work content and worker skill sets.

Third, managers must attract, engage and retain today’s changing workforce through flexible, transparent scheduling. These schedules must not only accommodate worker shift preferences, but also allow workers to view schedules on their personal mobile devices and initiate shift swaps, time-off requests and absence reporting. Managers must be able to view and approve these requests and offer adjusted shift coverage on their own mobile devices.

Finally, despite all of the changing demand and workforce requirements, managers must drive improved productivity through tried and true work methodologies and standards. They must create performance-focused cultures that engage workers in continuously improving productivity, efficiency and customer service.

4-in-1 Workforce Management

Distribution managers can’t hope to accomplish the above four tasks adequately without technology support. But it can’t be one system for this function and another system for that function. Today’s warehouse requirements are too complex and move too fast for disconnected solutions that often work at cross purposes. What’s needed is a single, integrated and comprehensive approach to manage all four aspects of a distribution manager’s job. That’s why JDA integrated it’s industry-leading JDA Workforce Management™, JDA Warehouse Labor Management™ and JDA Workforce Management Mobile™ into a single, comprehensive workforce solution.

What can an integrated workforce solution do for you?

  • Enables accurate, metrics-based long-term staff planning to ensure that the right staff with the right skills will always be trained and available to meet future demand
  • Automates staff scheduling to free managers for problem-solving while creating optimal hour-by-hour schedules that respond to ever-changing demand
  • Engages and retains workers by providing flexible scheduling and mobile-based communications and interactions
  • Drives efficiency and productivity through optimized task methods and standards

Most importantly, an integrated workforce solution drives bottom-line results. Customer service is improved while unplanned overtime is reduced. Efficiency is increased while worker engagement and retention are improved. This results in warehouse labor cost reductions of 3-8 percent to provide a return on investment in months, not years.

Let’s face it, neither the work in the warehouse nor the workers are the same as they were 5-10 years ago. So why is your technology? You need a new, integrated workforce solution that engages your associates, optimizes today’s fulfillment operations, and those of the future. JDA’s Integrated Workforce Labor Management is that solution.