A Transportation Network is Your Pit Crew

You’ve developed a well thought out transportation plan that supports your supply chain.  You’ve conducted a transportation procurement event and have agreements in place with carrier partners to provide the type of capacity you need, where and when you need it. You’ve communicated the final transportation plan and carrier strategy to your internal and external constituents, and have made essential business process changes to ensure successful execution.

Ladies and gentlemen, start your engines…The “green flag” is waved and off you go executing your budgeted and approved transportation plan.

Within the first few weeks, you discover a carrier who you awarded a high volume, VIP customer lane to, has had a change in their network and is not able to honor their capacity commitment. Within the first few months, you also learn a successful new product launched by your company has a 25% higher demand forecast for the year and a new co-packer who cannot accommodate drop trailers will be added to support this volume. In relation to the higher demand, you now have new customers who are taking forever to unload at their distribution centers and your carriers are threatening to raise rates as an offset to the delays.

Are the wheels of execution coming off already? Is your transportation engine (“the plan”) on the verge of overheating?

You need to make a pit stop to address your capacity need. If you are part of a Transportation Network, which is inherent in a software-as-a-service (single instance/multi-tenant) transportation management system environment, it is like having a pit crew ready and waiting. You will have immediate access to qualified, cost effective capacity with the thousands of carriers already servicing locations and requirements similar to your business, all visible in the Network. You will have the visibility and agility that comes from being able to tap into the built-in EDI connectivity to those carriers who are in the Network. Your pit crew has provided new capacity that can meet your needs and is ready to go.

A few more laps around the track (or a few months later), you need to get back to the pit. This time, you know the business need (a product launch that has exceeded expectations) and you want to take a little extra time to select the right “tires.” You need visibility to cost and service benchmarks generated by the Network with which to measure not only how your original plan stacks up, but also the implications tied to making additions or changes to your transportation plan. What kind of on-time delivery performance or tender acceptance rates by mode, area, and industry do other shippers in the Network experience? What time periods or geographies are most at risk for cost or service failures? A good Network will answer those questions for you. You can be assured that the Network offers quality carriers, connectivity, benchmarks, data and best practices, because you know it is made up of other high performing companies– that is, shippers like you who are focused on making transportation a competitive advantage for their organizations.

There will also be times during the race when you choose to talk with the crew about ways to improve your overall driving strategy. Being part of a Network allows you to talk to your peers to share ideas, solve problems, and maybe even collaborate on cost reduction or service improving initiatives. The expertise within the Network comes from those who built it and those who participate in it, and together you can build a better supply chain. It will help you fine tune your engine and service the inevitable pit stops.

Need a pit crew for your transportation management race? Get a Network.

Lisa-Kerr-2015_webLisa Kerr is Director of Commercial Intelligence for LeanLogistics, Inc. In this role, she is provides leadership in gathering and assimilating supply chain industry & market research to inform corporate strategy, solution development and commercial effectiveness. Her expertise is in helping companies assess logistics business processes to find areas of breakthrough improvement and in enabling them to make the overall link between supply chain competitiveness and shareholder value. As a practitioner with 30 years of supply chain experience, Lisa is a member of CSCMP and is serving as the 2015 Transportation Track Co-chair for the Annual Conference. Lisa has a B.A. in Materials & Logistics Management from Michigan State University.