When it comes to choosing a new third-party logistics (3PL) partner, one of the most common concerns we hear about is change management. Logistics professionals are often worried that it would be too time-consuming to make a change so large, especially if it includes implementing a new transportation management system (TMS). They wonder if the benefits will outweigh the potential issues of a new 3PL implementation. Having worked with companies of all sizes, GlobalTranz has developed a tried-and-true implementation strategy - because a successful long-term logistics strategy starts with a successful implementation.
Here, we share six crucial elements to include in an implementation strategy to ensure a smooth transition and successful ongoing partnership with your 3PL.
1. TMS implementation
When you start working with a new 3PL, you will often bring on a new TMS as part of the process. Or you'll at least need to integrate your existing TMS - and other systems - with your 3PL's TMS. We know that can seem intimidating which is why migration assistance from your 3PL is critical for ensuring a successful 3PL implementation. Your first step should be getting buy-in from your leadership team. Once you have top-down support, start thinking about some of the requests your 3PL may to get your TMS up and running, including migrating data, configuring system settings, cybersecurity, defining workflows, identifying exceptions and other considerations.
You'll also want to identify a project management team that will be the main point of contact throughout your TMS implementation, as well as the everyday users who will need to be trained to use the new system. We recommend identifying a "superuser" who will be your internal team member with the deepest level of training on your new TMS. Lastly, be sure to collect any feedback from your team as they are trained on and begin using your new TMS. Understand how they are working with the new system and lean on your 3PL to help your team adapt.
2. Performance metrics
Discuss your partnership goals with your 3PL upfront. What do you hope to achieve from this partnership in 30 days, six months or in a year? What does success look like to you? If you can answer these questions, your logistics partner can ensure they are tracking the proper metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) - and creating the reports that will be the most beneficial to you - to measure your success.
At GlobalTranz, we understand that every shipper has its own unique reasons for partnering with and hiring a 3PL. We'll work with you to identify your challenges and goals and build a reporting strategy that fits your needs.
3. Employee training
Communicating changes to your employees upfront will be key to a smooth 3PL implementation. If employees feel included in the process, they are more likely to work with you to make the onboarding process a success. Identify the employees who will be most affected by the new change, and ensure they are properly trained on any changes to workflows and technology systems. We find it's best to provide insight into your company goals and the reason behind the change to help gain employee buy-in.
GlobalTranz has gone through many implementations with our customers. Lean on us to help get your employees up to speed on everything they need to know about partnering with a new 3PL - from new processes to technology updates.
4. Escalation planning
Unfortunately, there will come a time when the unexpected occurs - whether a supply chain disruption causes shipments to get cancelled or a carrier misses a pick-up or delivery window. While we can work to eliminate a number of escalations before they happen, we still need to be prepared for when one may occur. Work with your 3PL to plan for potential escalations. What is the process for your team to escalate something to your 3PL and vice versa?
Planning for the unexpected gives you and your 3PL the best opportunity to create quick, efficient solutions for any problems you may face.
5. Scheduled communications
You should expect frequent and timely communications from your 3PL from the second you sign a contract throughout the entire implementation process. Open, transparent communication is essential for a smooth onboarding process. Your logistics partner should help create communication templates you can send out to the rest of your team and company. Even if onboarding a 3PL doesn't directly impact the day-to-day options of an employee, it's still important to communicate changes that are as important as this one to the organization as a whole. They will appreciate being kept in the loop, and a day may come when it is beneficial that they are already aware of your new logistics partner.
6. Ongoing business reviews
Your new 3PL - via their TMS - will give you access to a variety of reports and metrics that will help you measure your success. But ongoing business reviews are also a great way to shine a light on successes and identify areas for improvement. Work with your logistics partner to create a plan for business reviews. How often do you wish to have them? Every month? Quarter? What does your 3PL recommend? And what information do you want covered during the reviews? Do you want to see a recap of
the reports you've already established? Your 3PL should work with you to create expectations for every business review and come to them with the information you want to see.
We recommend creating this plan during implementation. While your plan may change as you start to work together and learn more about the partnership - it's still important to have a starting point that you both agree on.
GlobalTranz is an experienced 3PL implementation partner
Not every 3PL implementation strategy is created equal. At GlobalTranz, we know firsthand how important it is for your 3PL implementation to go smoothly. A well-planned implementation strategy will go a long way in ensuring the long-term success of your partnership and logistics strategy.
If you're thinking about partnering with a 3PL provider, reach out to us today to speak with an expert and learn how GlobalTranz will work to ensure a successful relationship - from implementation and beyond.