Daily Archives: April 26, 2012

If You Are Using a 3PL, Should You Focus on Outcome-Based Pricing?

Yesterday we discussed whether or not you should hedge your transportation costs, given this recent article in Canadian Transportation & Logistics (CTL) that found global shipping lines grapple with plunging rates, overcapacity, and faltering recover. Today we discuss another recent Canadian Transportation & Logistics article on why it pays to focus on outcomes rather than transactions in procuring supply chain services.

While an outcome-based focus is starting to take hold in some leading Supply Management organizations in their strategic sourcing processes, it’s often focussed on more traditional services where outcomes are easily defined and well understood by the organization. For example, procurement back-office functions where it’s all about throughput improvement (in terms of invoices processed), customer service (where it’s all about trouble-ticket resolution), and preventative maintenance (where it’s all about reducing downtime).

But back-office, customer service, and system up-time are not the only things that can be measured as outcomes. So can 3PL. As per the CTL on global shipping challenges, only 56% of containers delivered on time globally. Fifty-six percent! For those of you going for the perfect order, that’s 44% of your orders that rely on globally sourced products that won’t be perfect as of day one! (That’s why Maersk launched its Daily Maersk service in late October of 2011 which, with daily cut-off and built-in safety margins, allows it to guarantee virtually total reliability between select ports in Asia and Europe.)

Of course, this will require a shift in mindset in both buyers and 3PLs, but if both parties are willing to share greater risks, both parties could reap greater rewards. Current trends seem to indicate that. For example, by focussing on outcomes, Microsoft saved $30 Million by outsourcing its procure-to-pay operation to Accenture One, which doubled profit by focussing on value add activities. And Proctor & Gamble saved $1 Million in the first year of outsourcing $70 Million of facility management to Jones Lang LaSalle.

When the 3PL focusses on process and productivity improvement, and not price reduction, the efficiencies that fall out will most likely lead to cost reductions in the long term. For example, just getting the on-time delivery rate to 94% from 56% will likely decrease expediting costs 86%. And reducing “empty miles” will reduce costs (and likely speed up delivery time-frames as well, shortening lead times).