We live in an age of uncertainty. Driver shortages, an ever-changing landscape of tariffs and trade agreements, extreme weather, and political upheaval have changed the face of the logistics industry—and that change isn’t over yet.
“As these things play out, they’re going to have major consequences on how you have your logistics network and supply chain structured,” says Josh Miller, CTSI-Global’s Vice President of Sales.
Miller recently spoke at the 2019 American Supply Chain Summit, where he gave an enlightening presentation on ways that companies can create a flexible, breathing logistics ecosystem that will steer them through the good times and the bad.
“When you look at being able to create that ecosystem, it starts really with a culture of transparency internally within the organization,” Miller says. “Being able to freely share information within your organization, but also with your suppliers, with your carrier, and with your customer base—for the benefit of all.”
Here are some of the highlights from Miller’s talk, along with the advice he has for companies looking to create this kind of ecosystem.
Establish one shared version of the truth
One of the most important steps that any company can take is eliminating silos and ensuring the smooth and consistent flow of data. Otherwise, it’s like trying to walk with both legs moving in opposite directions.
“If I’m at a particular location within my business, and I’m working off one set of data, and a location overseas is working off a different set of data, my suppliers are working off a third set of data, we’re all going to come up with different conclusions,” Miller points out. “Being able to make strategic, tactical decisions when everyone isn’t on the same playing field can become very difficult.”
By integrating their logistics network, gathering data from every party involved, and sharing that data with key stakeholders, companies can establish one shared version of the truth. Implementing standardized processes and creating more visibility through in-transit tracking can go a long way toward achieving this.
“All of this information feeds in together and ensures everybody’s working off one source of truth,” Miller says.
Think globally, act locally
While establishing a shared version of the truth is important, it should not be so inflexible as to prevent regional variation.
“There’s certainly some benefit to allowing locations to operate independently to service their specific customer needs,” Miller says. “But you also have to make sure that you have some control at the corporate level.”
To do this, Miller recommends implementing what he calls an “80/20 rule,” indicating the breakdown of corporate governance to regional variability.
“You want to be able to leverage processes that are guided at the corporate level—the standardized shipping processes, leveraging economies of scale to be able to put corporate rates in place—but then also give some flexibility to that individual location to make decisions based on their specific needs,” he says.
A robust transportation management system (TMS) enables corporate governance, without removing the ability to be flexible.
“This is where you’re able to standardize processes across the organization and leverage things like optimization,” Miller says.
Monitor KPIs continuously
In order to make the most of an integrated logistics ecosystem, it’s essential that companies pay close attention to their KPIs on an ongoing basis.
“Some people may review their KPIs on a quarterly basis or during annual reviews,” Miller says. “But it’s important to make sure that you constantly stay on top of these.”
Miller recommends creating a living, breathing set of KPIs that evolves in line with the business.
“As you make small, minor adjustments to your processes and you start to see improvements, you’re going to want to make some changes to your KPIs,” he says. “Don’t just set it and forget it.”
Gathering the right data is also vital. Freight audit and payment services can be invaluable for companies looking to track data about their freight spend across all global locations.
“When you look at freight audit and payment services, the ROI you get as a result of the audit is well defined,” Miller says. “But really, the most valuable piece of this is the data.”
Leverage outside help
The logistics industry is evolving fast, particularly when it comes to technology. For companies concerned that they may be getting outpaced by their competitors, Josh has some final advice.
“There’s an old saying that goes, ‘Do what you do best and outsource the rest,’” he says. “It doesn’t matter if you’re a billion-dollar company—few companies possess the resources and the bandwidth and the know-how to stay on top of all the emerging technologies.”
As experienced providers of logistics and supply chain technology, CTSI-Global can help companies get up to speed with their tools quickly, ensuring a faster return on investment. And with a range of managed services available, companies never need to worry about having gaps in their knowledge or resources—putting a fully integrated logistics ecosystem well within reach.
Don’t let competitors get the upper hand. Partner with us today.