One of the biggest problems with maintaining your own supply chain is visibility, which is why it’s such a buzzword in supply chain lately. Outsourcing logistics management to a 3PL can be one of the best ways of increasing the visibility of your supply chain.
Now, this may seem counter-intuitive, but it is often the case that outsourcing to a 3PL can increase the visibility of portions of your supply chain — and that keeping a supply chain internally managed may actually decrease visibility.
How could this be? The truth is, advances in 3PL software, including cloud-based offerings, have allowed 3PLs to provide impressive levels of supply chain visibility (SCV) that were once simply not possible.
Supply Chain Visibility Software Is the Norm for the Best 3PLs — But You Might Not Have It
In today’s competitive 3PL/4PL market, only the highest quality, most efficient 3PLs and 4PLs survive. This is especially true after the market downturn during the Great Recession of 2008, and even with the ongoing recovery, much of the fat was cut from the industry.
Those who survived knew that they needed to offer ever-increasing levels of customer service, that they needed to show their customers exactly the kind of value that they could provide.
At the same time, 3PL software was really coming into its own. Forward-thinking 3PLs and 4PLs were tracking the development of such pieces of software, and integrating them into their own operations.
Those pieces of software evolved into cloud-based offerings, and those offerings gave 3PLs and 4PLs the ability to greatly increase supply chain visibility for their customers. Rather than having to send simplified reports and estimates via email, fax, or phone, many of today’s 3PLs and 4PLs offer dynamic tracking and tracing options that can be monitored by customers through the simple expedient of a customer portal.
What this means, in practice, is that you don’t have to wait for a report, an email, or a phone call from the 3PL who is handling your supply chain — instead, you can monitor a number of these operations yourself.
Your customer also benefits as you’re able to pass on that information to them in real time without having to rely on a customer service representative — you can check yourself and get right back to them.
Many businesses who are used to running their own operations are often quite surprised to learn the level of visibility that 3PLs are able to provide with these sophisticated pieces of software. In fact, while many mid-market businesses do indeed have some form of logistics software that lets them track operations, just as many do not.
Those that do not often don’t realize quite how behind the times they are until they see the alternative in action. Even for businesses that run their own operations and have some form of logistics software, it’s often the case that they don’t utilize the software properly. Sometimes, they simply don’t have an efficient process in place to ensure visibility across the chain.
Sometimes, it can be as simple as employees or managers lacking the discipline to pass on critical pieces of visibility data to the right people in your organization. In other cases, there are breakdowns in communication at every turn. Even in cases where a company utilizes logistics software, we often find that they are unaware of all the features of said software, or even that they simply don’t use the features that could help them the most.
And then, of course, there are the companies who are simply behind the times. Those companies who are just now looking at the idea of outsourcing logistics as a means of increasing efficiency and decreasing costs, who are still experiencing frighteningly low levels of supply chain visibility because they rely on outmoded technologies and broken processes.
Find Out How Partnering with a 3PL Can Help You Increase Visibility While Giving You Access to Some of the Most Advanced Transportation Management Systems Available
Our experience shipping a wide variety of specialty goods makes us uniquely qualified to help you figure out exactly how your operations can be improved while keeping costs down.
Even if we only help you with simple freight transportation services, we would love to show you how a partnership with Diversified Transportation Services can be the tool you need to take your business to the next level.
Whether you're a company looking to improve one facet of your supply chain, your entire supply chain, or simply looking for a transportation and logistics consultation, we can help.