Tips to Make Working with a 3PL EasierDesigning a supply chain and its logistics components begins with knowing what your goals are and having adequate benchmarks for success. All too often, a 3PL is engaged without any more direction than “get it done” and “do it cheaply”.
Out of the gate, you should have clearly defined intentions for your logistics. But there are a number of other ways you can make your engagement with a 3rd party logistics provider run more smoothly. The following few tips will keep you on the right track.
Communication is Key
If you’ve ever run projects involving distributed teams, you’ve probably seen how vital good communication is to keeping the team members on track to achieve optimal performance. Outsourcing your logistics is no exception. We’re not talking about the occasional ‘how’s it going’ email either. A virtual team separated by geographical distance still benefits from regular face to face meetings where possible and plenty of constructive phone communications. Emails have their place, but real time conversations are often ideal opportunities to flag problems and suggest improvements.
Trust Built On Clear Performance
Tips to Make Working with a 3PL EasierIt will take time to feel confident in the results from a 3PL, however good its records or references are. Alongside strong, 2-way communication and defined goals should always be an implicit trust and confidence.
A 3PL needs the freedom to make decisions quickly and carry out operations with consistency. If you’ve properly vetted your 3PL on the frontside of an engagement, you should be able to trust that they are bringing you the best estimates and proposals every time. They are your partner. If you have to waiver from that level of trust, it might be time to move on.
Benchmarking for Visible Signs of Improvement
Something that can be done at the start, benchmarking can also be a continuing process to track logistics performance, improvements and goal achievement. It relies on knowing what you want and how to measure it to then be able to track changes in a quantifiable way. It also gives you an indication if something is not working like it should, with data that you can discuss with your 3PL as a basis for putting improvements in place.
Flexibility in Resolving Logistics Issues
Tips to Make Working with a 3PL EasierNobody says you have to compromise on your strategic goals. However, there may be a choice of solutions for reaching them. By first understanding what the issue is, assessing its impact and thinking about possible answers, you’re likely to have a more positive and more constructive discussion with your 3PL about resolving them.
Your 3PL may not be at fault (your issue may be internal); but it may still be able to leverage its experience and knowledge to suggest a logistical alternative – which may even be one that you hadn’t thought of.
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