Daily Archives: September 14, 2011

Does Your 3PL Have the CCSF Designation?

If you want quick transport by air, maybe it should.

As per this article in Air Cargo World, the US Transportation Security Administration has executed its interim final rule (IFR) on airfreight security and enabled entities other than airlines to screen cargo transported on passenger planes.

Before the TSAs certified cargo screening program (CSSP) that was introduced in September 2009, only the TSA or airlines were authorized to screen belly-hold cargo. But now that the IFR has been implemented, airfreight entities can now apply to become certified cargo screening facilities, provided they adhere to a stringent chain-of-custody requirement and implement a multi-layered security program that includes appointing security coordinators, strict access controls and vetting of key personnel.

Given that the TSA is aiming to achieve 100-percent cargo screening on all U.S.-bound flights by the end of the year, there’s a good chance that any shipper relying on the TSA or the airline to screen their cargo could experience a backlog delay during the holiday rush season. However, those who use a 3PL with CCSF status will see their cargo clear immediately.

Cost Control – Hwong Style

Those who know Henry, who, before taking on a VP role at Rearden Commerce, held senior roles at Ariba, Provade, Elance, PeopleSoft, and Moai, know that he’s on the ball when it comes to Sourcing and Procurement. Thus, I was very interested to see what his prescription for Cost Control was as he was relatively quiet during his time at Ariba where he took on a more internally focussed role.

But, as per this recent article over on CPO Agenda on How to Control Costs, he’s back in the spotlight and eager to share his wisdom with the world.

According to Henry, the secret to cost reduction is not to put more spend under procurement’s control (which is hailed as the holy grail by at least one analyst firm), not to enable enterprise-wide visibility (which is hailed as the holy grail by providers of spend visibility software), and not to put an end to off-contract purchasing (which is hailed as the holy grail by consulting firms a-plenty). While each can reduce costs, the real sercet is to moving towards a more holistic approach to
managing the entire lifecycle of a purchase
. This is because a platform model that supports the entire procure-to-pay process (and as many categories as possible), gives procurement chiefs the one common driver behind all of the strategies reflected in the survey responses: control.

What a CPO really needs to reduce costs is control over those costs, and, more specifically, control over the processes that drive those costs. Some categories should be purchased centrally, others should be decentralized. Some should be purchased on multi-year contracts. Others should be purchased on a spot-buy every day, week, quarter, or month. Some categories should only be bought on contract. Some should never be bought on contract. The CPO needs the control to ensure that the right policy is followed for every buy. That is the ultimate key to cost control.

In addition, if you really want to control cost, instead of consolidating the supply base, which is the first instinct in 3 out of 5 procurement professionals, you instead expand the supply base. As Henry says, while consolidation presents you with fewer throats to choke, it also increases your exposure to disruption if one of those suppliers fails or has a quality / delivery issue. Plus, when you give users fewer choices, the immediate impact will be an increase in off-contract buying. Thus, if you want to make an impact, you expand the supply base since working with more suppliers can actually increase compliance and interestingly enough reduce costs, as the procurement team has more leverage to work with when negotiating terms.

Finally, if you’re really serious about cost control, you tackle the biggest obstacle of them all — the cultural obstacle. Procurement teams are often not involved in strategic planning decisions and are brought in after major decisions are made and after much of the costs have been locked in. Even having the information that procurement can provide about supplier choices and costs … could play an important role in keeping costs low in the long-run.

It’s a great article that provides great insight into the real drivers of cost — cultural, control, and consternation (about having too many throats to choke). It also provides some great advice on strategies an organization can use to combat wild price changes in dynamic commodities and some insights on where Henry thinks the challenges in Procurement lie. Check it out.