Challenges & Lessons Learned
Working with 23 different company cultures, organizational and decision-making structures, people and systems takes time and patience. All were interested in making the marketplace work, a refreshing level of support that helped pace the program forward.
Sixty-six users from 23 companies were given access to the marketplace to manage their company’s data. Some companies elected to engage individual facility managers at each location, while others managed information across multiple facilities from one central account.
While the Materials Marketplace software allows for either configuration, some users in the “managing multiple facilities” role reported difficulty in accessing information and transaction records for individual locations. We have some user interface modifications in the enhancements pipeline to streamline this functionality.
We also received feedback requesting more in-depth training materials for utilizing the marketplace and interacting with other participants. These materials need to be easily sharable from the company admin level to the location admin level so participants can more easily bring other employees into the marketplace. For some, participating in the marketplace program highlighted the need for wider engagement across company departments and facilities, including procurement, plant-level operators, waste contract managers, and others.
Overall, participants were able and willing to utilize the marketplace software to upload materials available and wishlists, and pursue transactions. Some participants quickly became “power users”, making full use of the software’s functionality, while for others, the learning curve has been a challenge. As noted above, the project team will be creating better training materials to help get all participants up-to-speed.
Most participants appreciated weekly email updates on the program, materials available and materials desired prepared and sent by the project team. Making time to log into the marketplace software can be difficult for many users, so additional channels of communication proved helpful.
Participants have also requested a mechanism to “learn more” about a material from the material owner before entering into a transaction. This is especially important for complex materials like chemical by-products. We’ve added this function to our enhancements list as well.
Data Collection and Trade Facilitation
We spent the first six weeks of the three month summer pilot helping the participant companies understand the uploading process and getting their materials on the marketplace. Many obstacles came up along the way, but in the end most were successful and many extremely skilled and confident in the software and process. In the future, we will be spending more time with the company participants on the first through last stages of the program, helping those who are newer to the program and empowering those who are ready to speed ahead.