Tim Parkin, DigiHaul’s Director of Technology, describes his job as ‘busy, varied, but hugely enjoyable’. He reveals how developing innovative solutions for shippers and carriers is disrupting the road transport industry to enable better collaboration and more growth. And is ultimately making everyone’s lives that little bit easier.

You started your career as a graduate trainee for a FTSE 100 global distributor and have held several roles in supply chain. Tell us about your background.

After graduating from Sheffield University with a French degree I did a stint as a teacher in Paris for a year before joining a graduate programme for a global distributor working in both the UK and France. This was great exposure to all aspects of a business – sales, operations, finance, product management and IT.

I started specialising in IT roles in 2008, focusing on order management, warehousing, transport and finance systems. My roles covered business analysis, systems design, integration, testing, project management and implementation – an IT ‘Jack of all trades’! This has helped me understand business challenges from a broad technology perspective and how to interpret them and find solutions.

What made you decide to join the DigiHaul team in November 2020?

Having worked in large corporate environments for most of my career, I was excited by the opportunity that a digital start-up business presented. I could clearly see the vision of the business and that a strong team was already being built – I wanted to be part of the success story from the ground floor. Working at a start-up means we can be much more agile and autonomous, it’s an exciting place to be.

Our size and our culture at DigiHaul mean that we’re much more accessible to our shippers and carrier partners – they know that they’re talking to the decision makers and we can implement change and improvements quickly and effectively.

How has your experience helped to drive DigiHaul’s technology strategy?

Firstly, I’ve worked on large scale, enterprise-level system implementations – this has given me the core backbone for leading our technology strategy and all of the best practice that comes with that, such as rigorous testing of product rollouts. Secondly, I’ve had to build from scratch, innovate and think on my feet in my various technology roles.

This blend of scale and agility in my background is reflected in how we tackle business problems and find IT solutions at DigiHaul. It’s about picking the right tool for the problem – sometimes you need a sledgehammer, sometimes a nutcracker will do.

What expertise do you have across your team?

We have a diverse skillset across the team – everyone has come from different backgrounds and brings their own unique perspective, from large corporate organisations to SME environments.

We have IT Service Management expertise – this is critical to keeping the lights on and making sure we can scale and grow. The Product Owners are subject matter experts on the DigiHaul system and perform that key translation exercise from business need to system requirements. Our Technology Manager is focused on digitising everything we do – both internally and to our shippers and carriers. And our development teams have strong technical delivery skills to execute against our strategy.

How are DigiHaul’s digital solutions disrupting the industry?

We have taken a traditionally paper-based, manual set of processes and applied our technology to digitalise it – from a shipper wanting to fulfil their load to a carrier executing the job in real-time, and the all-important billing process at the end. This cuts out a lot of the waste typically seen in those manual operations, but also lets those customer teams focus on the important tasks – and only intervene by exception.

Our integration with our shippers’ systems has removed the need for a lot of the manual processes, including paper-based remittances. Similarly, self-billing for our carriers has saved both them – and us – a great deal of admin time.

Feedback from our shippers and carriers alike is that we’ve helped transform the freight industry by introducing simple, scalable technology and making people’s lives that little bit easier.

Are there any further technical innovations in the pipeline?

We’ve just launched our Live Offers feature to our carriers – this is another example of digitalising a manual process. Previously a phone call or email would be used to negotiate and agree a price for a ‘spot rate’ ad hoc job in our system. Now a carrier can submit their offer for that job via the DigiHaul portal, get feedback on whether they’ve been successful and – most importantly – access more of the work that may be relevant to them.

It’s been really exciting speaking with carriers about this and sharing their enthusiasm for digitalisation!
With any change process, we’ve always made it a priority to listen to feedback from our shippers and carrier partners and communicate clearly by sharing information, doing live demos and answering their questions.

Why is this the right time for shippers and carriers to move to digital freight?

There are three key reasons: real-time visibility, digitalisation and optimisation. Lifting these transactions off paper, email and phone calls and into ones and zeros means we can all collaborate more efficiently, grow together and gain insights that were previously locked away in filing cabinets, post-it notes and archive folders.

There are clear commercial benefits for both shippers and carriers of going digital and using our data insights. For example, we can help shippers to plan ahead better and be less reactive when they’re looking for capacity, and we can make our carrier partners more efficient by reducing empty running.

What does a typical day look like in your role?

Each day is a real blend of wearing many different hats – project manager, strategist, problem solver, leader, budget owner, translator, and opportunity spotter. The common thread is obviously technology, but the day typically involves team reviews to check in on our Product Roadmap, IT supplier management, escalation support, shipper and carrier meetings and supporting our transition and sales teams with future opportunities. Busy, varied, but hugely enjoyable!

What’s the one thing that motivates you when you go to work?

I really like having overall accountability for technology. In my previous roles I held management positions within larger corporate structure – in DigiHaul, the buck stops with me! We also have a fantastic team – both within my function of technology, but also across the whole business.

It’s genuinely a fun place to work and we’re supportive of each other. If there’s a problem, we join forces and work out how to overcome it together – you can’t beat that for motivation in your day job.

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