1. A delivery day and/or time must be on an order. You may need to educate or coach your sales staff on what acceptable commitments are (e.g., first out Wednesday) and are not (e.g., "as soon as we can").
  2. Track performance on each order. Your computer systems may be able to automate this if you're using GPS on your vehicles. However, technology isn't necessary to track OTIF. I have several clients that simply use a check mark for "on-time" and an 'X' for "not on-time." The dispatcher marks the invoice when the orders go out. Personnel handling the invoicing collect the data and record it in a simple Excel spreadsheet. This includes assigning reason codes to any items that aren't "in-full."
  3. Record why the order wasn't shipped on time or in-full. Reason codes are noted on each item missing from an order. Typical codes include: incorrect receiving; don't have product; vendor shipped late; product damaged on yard, and out-of-stock. Including reason codes enables management to drill down effectively to problem areas.
  4. Solve problems as they are spotted. For example, if your on-time percentages start falling, you might find the issue is that sales is making unrealistic commitments (e.g., first outs are tremendously overbooked). It's time to create a system fix. Maybe the solution is providing visibility for sales on the first-out slots, so they know or can check how many are available at any given time. Maybe it's the visibility and cutoff times (orders in by 11 a.m. for same-day delivery and in by 3 p.m. for next-day delivery). Whatever the solution, the key piece is that folks from several functions are now involved in solving a performance problem that affects them all.
  5. Expect the data-gathering effort to take a while at first, then get easier. "When we started tracking OTIF, we spent 30 to 45 minutes a day on capturing the information," says Koopman vice president of operations Eric Sampson. "Now we've got the system down, and it takes us five to 10 minutes a day." Since OTIF is an at-a-glance metric, management can see easily how the company is performing. Details driving the performance are there when needed.

It doesn't matter whether you track it with advanced technology, an Excel spreadsheet or simply by hand–it still works. You can measure this. And the benefits of doing so are compelling.— Ruth Kellick-Grubbs