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Top 9 Questions for Selecting a Successful 3PL Partner (Part 1 of 2)

Third party logistics (3PL) companies are a becoming an important part of today’s supply chain. These companies offer services that can allow businesses to outsource part their logistics and transportation functions. The growth of 3PLs has been driven by the need for businesses to become leaner and focus on core competencies.

Unfortunately, the logistics landscape is littered with failedTablet PC for 3PL relationships between 3PLs and manufacturing companies. In many cases, the seeds for failure are sown during the selection process. Outsourcing may not be a legitimate option for many companies, but for those who think it may be, managing the search properly is a key to success.

Focusing on three prospective 3PLs to solicit will provide enough information to make a true comparison without being overwhelmed. Also, knowing the proper questions to ask will lead to the right decision.

1. What are the needs of my company? Companies should first identify their needs and then communicate them to a potential 3PL to evaluate their capabilities and properly set expectations. Does the provider have the right equipment, facilities, technology and services to meet your company needs? It’s wise to know your transaction volumes and system integration capabilities prior to approaching a 3PL. For example, larger companies with a high volume of shipments should seek a provider with enough capital to cover the cost of dedicated systems and custom software development. The 3PL should also understand your business and the role they are expected to play to determine how well you may work together.

2. Do we have similar cultures? Technology has leveled the playing field for smaller logistics providers to compete with larger ones. However, smaller providers are still more likely to respond quickly to your needs while a larger carrier may provide better care for customers that provide grater volume. Matching cultures and cultivating relationships between key personnel on both sides throughout the outsourcing process is critical to ensure individual contribution to the overall success. This is especially important during implementation and ongoing operations, but if you wait until this stage to identify issues, it will be too late.

3. Am I getting a cookie-cutter solution? Ideally you want to find a 3PL who provides flexible solutions and takes a tailored approach to suit your unique logistics needs. Whether it is through 24/7 technology or excellent customer service, be sure to identify a good form of communication that ensures that everyone stays on top of when and what is coming in and going out. Ask 3PLs for customer references of similar organizations and how they provided customized solutions. While you’re at it, be sure to get specifics on daily operational functions and how the 3PL’s available technology fits in with their own in-house daily functions. Ask contacts about the quality of the 3PL’s key performance indicators (KPI) generation, their service standards and their service levels.

4. How will emergencies and exceptions be handled? A 3PL should be able to accommodate special requests and rush orders. Understand their policy for overtime and second or third shifts ahead of time and establish a plan prior to entering a relationship.

Next week, we will list the final five questions to ask in finding a successful 3PL partnership to move your product. To learn more about how Rugged Tablet PCs are being used by 3PLs to operate more efficiently and provide customers with real-time visibility of their shipments contact our qualified representatives today at 1.877.784.4388 or visit the RuggedTabletPC website. 

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