Daily Archives: September 15, 2011

Category Management – More than Just a Fad

As per this recent post over on SCMR that summarized new data released by APQC, companies that have adopted category management practices – managing product categories separately and customizing them according to specific customer needs – outperform others on a number of key supply chain metrics. Specifically:

  • shorter supplier lead time
    median lead time of 6 days compared to 28 days
  • faster cycle time
    median turnaround time of 8 hours compared to 72 hours
  • higher productivity
    199% more POs processed per FTE
  • fewer FTEs required to order materials and services –
    companies without category management require 2.5 times as many FTEs to order materials and services and have less FTEs to focus on more strategic endeavours

So, if your organization is not already managing on a category basis, maybe it’s time to do so for key categories.

Six Secrets of Successful Freight Tenders

A recent article over on Canadian Transportation and Logistics on the five secrets of successful freight tenders had some really great tips for getting the best bang for your buck that makes the article a must read. However, it missed one very important tip, which is probably why it claims that Freight RFPs are analytically challenging. (This used to be true, but it’s not anymore. If it’s still true in your organization, then your organization is stuck in the middle ages and it’s time to at least step up to the industrial age.)

Before we get to the tip it missed, let’s start with the tips it provided because at least one of these is overlooked on many a project.

  • Sell your freight.
    Provide as much information as possible about your freight requirements. For each product, include transport, storage, volume, and frequency requirements. The more accurate and complete the RFx, the better quote the carrier can give you. Without detailed information, carriers will build in a “risk premium” so they don’t end up with “bad freight” and both parties lose.
  • Provide enough time.
    Without enough time to analyze your requirements and consider the fit, you’ll get a rough bid that won’t be the carrier’s best proposal. Remember that, depending on the time of year, it will likely sit on someone’s desk for a week, then in pricing for another week, before someone gets to it in the third week. If detailed analysis is required by the “number cruncher”, it could take a month to get the best bid.
  • Standardize the accessorial program.
    Variety and complexity of programs can make the analysis of bid responses unnecessarily complex, as you will be trying to compare apples to oranges to potatoes. And while maybe you can force fit compare the first two, the third poses quite a challenge. Create one program with one uniform set of charges that applies to all carriers.
  • Fully analyze rate proposals across the board.
    Typically carriers will give you aggressive discounts on major lanes to lure your business, but keep discounts to minor lanes minimal, or non-existent. As a result, you may pay more for freight overall if you end up shipping more on secondary lanes.
  • Benchmark results
    Freight patterns can change, and the net result is that a new freight schedule expected to save you money costs you more in the end. “Shadow rate” your current shipments using at least your last rates (if not your last two rates) to get a feel for what freight profiles give you the best deal overall.

But most importantly:

  • Use a sourcing package that can handle freight optimization and multi-level freight bids.
    A good strategic sourcing decision optimization platform (as provided by Algorhythm, BravoSolution, CombineNet, Emptoris, Iasta, or Trade Extensions) will not only allow for full analysis of the entire freight bid, but allow for the easy import of multi-level freight bids from excel spreadsheets. More specifically, these modern packages allow a carrier to define (inter)national rates by weight, volume, or distance, and then override these by region, and then by lane. This will allow a carrier to quickly define standard bids for low-volume lanes or lanes that they are not interested in and focus in on the lanes that fit their network and that they want to aggressively bid on. A carrier can bid on a 10,000 lane global sourcing project in a couple of hours. This decreases response time and increases bid quality.