This is the final post in our strategic shipping or transportation management series. Stemmed from our first post on covering these 10 areas of focus for shippers to have a strategic transportation management mindset in order to create a competitive advantage, we went ahead and went into detail on each of those 10 posts. You can catch up quickly, if this is your first post, by visiting all the posts in the series below:
- 10 Ways Effective Transportation Management Drives Competitive Advantage
- 6 Strategic and Proactive Tips to Stay Ahead of Distressed Shipments
- Strategic Logistics: 8 Steps to Controlling Inventory Flow & Driving Warehouse Efficiency
- 5 Areas of Technology Application to Aid in Logistics Visibility and Communication for en Route Disruptions
- 6 Benefits of Applying Useable Data in Logistics For Continuous Improvement
- Strategic Logistics Management: The Importance of Flexibility
- Why A Successful Transportation Management Program Is Empowered By Data
- How Effective Logistics and Transportation Management Leads to Scalability in Business Operations
- 5 Engagement Strategies in Managing a Relationship With a Transportation Management 3PL
- 5 Benefits from Logistics Sustainability & Efficiency
After deciding to use a third party logistics provider (3PL), you may be tempted to continue operating as you have previously. Unfortunately, failure to make and embrace changes will lead your organization to failure. Changing current processes requires time and willingness to change, i.e. you must embrace change management. Historically, consumers were driven to purchase by defect-free products and unmatched customer service. As the world has grown more reliant on efficiency, a shipper can no longer rely on defect-free product sales. Instead, the shipper must change processes to reflect increases in productivity across the company. Fortunately, many different models for increasing the value of change management exist. Take a look at some of the most important ways to achieve successful change management and increase efficiency, which remains the goal of all 3PL-partnered entities.
Identification of Needs Must Be Completed First
Initially, you must review your current shipping processes to identify problems and areas that can be improved through change management. However, you must ensure your organization does not violate any applicable rules and regulations, such as ISO requirements. These needs do not necessarily reflect physical needs entirely.
For example, your employees may need additional resources, such as increased accessibility to processing terminals or additional training, to make the appropriate changes. Alternatively, some other needs focus on revealing information about your business. Your 3PL will need to thoroughly review and assess your current processes to identify what actions will be most appropriate for your specific organization. This requires a great deal of trust between the 3PL and your organization. However, you must also think about your employees’ perception of the change.
Helping Employees Understand Change Management
On the surface, using a 3PL may seem like a dangerous move to your employees. Essentially, you are outsourcing some of your business practices to reap higher profits in today’s competitive market. Your employees may view this decision negatively, so you must help them understand the rationale behind the change.
You may hold additional training sessions on why your organization is retaining a 3PL. Explain how the 3PL’s presence will increase productivity while reducing the stresses of current employees. Furthermore, your employees must feel secure about their positions. Reiterate how existing employees’ positions will remain intact or change to meet the improvements in your organization.
For example, employee A’s typical job duties may be lessened by a 3PL; discuss what other areas of your organization employee A may be interested in. This allows all employees to maintain satisfaction in the workplace while embracing change management. However, you must not take a one-size-fits-all approach to change management. You may communicate changes to your employees in a variety of ways, but the key to successful change management rests with maintaining clear, consistent, and frequent communication without your employees throughout your unique organization.
Be Realistic About Changes
One of the most common misconceptions about using a 3PL is that there is an immediate return on investment and elimination of all inefficient business processes within days. Unfortunately, this mindset does not reflect an accurate description of a 3PL. Sit down with your staff and 3PL, and clearly communicate what changes you hope to accomplish by using the 3PL. This may include decreases in dead time, increased shipping capacity, and reductions in problems with inventory management.
Similarly, you must not be tempted to have one person responsible for all communication in your organization. When considering the hire of a 3PL, your employees will probably hear about the possibility before you ever made the decision. Ultimately, this will lead to backlash about how quickly the changes will take place and how your existing staff will be able to adapt. As a result, the role of your communication efforts will become even more prominent.
Increase Visibility in All Practices
Visibility drives efficiency for partnering with a 3PL. However, many executives, managerial staff, and employees may feel existing systems maintain the most visibility possible. If your organization has not revealed anything about everyday activities, you do not have an acceptable degree of visibility for successful change management.
Think back to the issue of trust between a 3PL and your organization. Why would your organization feel some information should not be shared? Does it revolve around proprietary information, or do worries of layoffs exist? Each of these questions reflect common considerations when preparing for change management. However, visibility is critical to ensuring all processes are addressed and improved. If you do not disclose information about everyday processes, you open the doors to unsuccessful change management and reductions in the return on investment for using a 3PL.
Apply a Structure to Your Change Management.
With all of this information, it will be easy to feel overwhelmed and lost. However, you must apply a structural model for achieving a successful transportation management strategy with a 3PL. This structure varies from organization to organization, and your structure can be mired from existing models to innovative ideas from your employees for increasing efficiency and change management. If you stay vigilant and maintain a set structure, the overall efficiency of change management will be increased.
Logisitics are both complicated and simple. Change characterizes the simplicity, yet changes also reflect intense complexities for all members of your organization. When thinking about gaining a competitive advantage and increasing your strategic look for transportation management, how you embrace change affects the accuracy and return on investment of partnering with a 3PL. When you clearly communicate, embrace, and reinforce these changes, across your organization, you can increase productivity and eliminate waste where it lies. Your organization must be ready to pivot to make these changes. How you do it should be clearly, methodically, and consistently approached with caution and enthusiasm.