Archive for the ‘3PL’ Category

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by Oliver Schmid  – IAOP :: International Association of Outsourcing Professionals Member


1.) What is outsourcing?

For years, outsourcing has been on the mind of many business people but what one associates with the term outsourcing, might be conceived as something completely different by somebody else. The only common ground is the understanding to give a task or process that used to be performed internally to a third-party service provider for fulfillment.

2.) Types of Outsourcing:

Outsourcing can be as mundane as giving support to somebody else and might be as complex as having business core processes being performed by somebody else.

Typical tasks and/or processes that are outsourced can be:

  • Partial or Total Outsourcing: Some functions or tasks will be outsourced partially while other will be outsourced in its entire. Partial or complete outsourcing can also be seen differently and depends of the viewpoint (Customer / Provider) of the parties involved. It also depends of the overall functionality of the to-be outsourced operations and can often not be determined clearly.
  • There is outsourcing of only operational functions vs. outsourcing of functions, tools and personnel.
  • Business Process Outsourcing (BPO): Interpretation of the meaning of BPO varies and depends again on the point of view. From a customer point, it could be giving away an in-itself-closed-business-process for which the provider carries complete responsibility. From a legal aspect, it is imperative to define all roles and responsibilities in a contractual from and every party involved need to understand their individual responsibilities and the consequences for non-compliance.

3.) Goals

The possible reasons for customers to look more closely at outsourcing to are equally diverse and complex as its possibilities and approaches.

Therefore, only some of the usual motivations for outsourcing will be referred to here:

  • Focusing on core business:
    • An organization wants to concentrate its resources on its core business, and therefore functions that are not part of its core business will be outsourced.
  • Cost savings and optimization:
    • An organization wants to reduce its cost of doing business through outsourcing by creating a flexible cost structure, which is directly related to the performance of its service provider.
  • Purchasing skills:
    • An organization wants to benefit from the increased competence of the provider who considers the to-be outsourced function as its core business. Often, an organization also wants to reduce its performance risk through contractual reassignment of performance risk to its service provider.
  • Flexibility:
    • The provider can often offer the customer more flexibility in the implementation of the delegated services than it would have been possible to a customer with its limited resources and scope for action.

4.) An outsourcing project is divided generally into:

  • the preparatory and planning phase, which includes the Baseline analysis, defining goals and determining the future procedures,
  • the initiation phase with the selection of the provider. and the contract negotiations,
  • the implementation phase with the transfer and the Setup of the facility (or Transition to Operate) and finally the actual
  • the start of the actual operation

Looking at the continuous “life” of an outsourcing initiative the following phases will follow:

  • Review and optimization of relationship and implemented processes
  • At contract expiration either the transfer of all functions to a new service provider or the return of the outsourced functions to the organization (insourcing)

5.) Preparation & Planning:

At the beginning of each outsourcing, a strategic analysis is performed to determine which services or which divisions will be outsourced as well as where the interfaces between the internal and external providers will be in the future.

Following this phase the outsourcing scope will be defined, which will include the functional spectrum. It should definitely be avoided not to make any clear commitments at the beginning, because the scope is the basis for all further tests, the structuring of the outsourcing and the subsequent tender.

The next step would be the internal analysis (assessment) of all areas that are part of the scope:

  • What personnel and which assets are involved?
  • What type of data is available?
  • Current Cost?
  • Which services are currently performed internally and which are already performed externally?
  • To which extend have processes and services already been documented?
  • What is the quality of the currently performed services?
  • Is delivery of services consistent with the according service performance documentation?
  • Are there any legal aspects that need to be considered; e.g. transfer of licenses?
  • Are there any industry-specific aspects to be considered (e.g. in the financial area)?

Oliver Schmid has extensive experience in offshore outsourcing to the Philippines, nearshore outsourcing to Canada and onshore outsourcing of matrix oriented call centers.  He is also versified in outsourcing of data center operations and data center monitoring and support. In addition Oliver Schmid participated in various 3PL and Supply Chain outsourcing initiatives.


Oliver Schmid, EzineArticles.com Basic PLUS Author


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The Structure of Outsourcing by Oliver Schmid is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.


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by Oliver Schmid

Over the last 15 years outsourcing has developed at a very fast pace. Unfortunately, what has not developed at the same speed is the development and implementation of Best Business Practices and the according standard processes and procedures. This in return results in uncoordinated efforts and lack of understanding of the whole process. Third party service providers will try to sell outsourcing as a win-win situation, but this is not always the case.  A majority’s outsourcing efforts are implemented through “trial and error” and there for a more costly than expected.

Sixty-nine percent of companies outsource IT services. Outsourcing of application development and maintenance ranges from 15% for CRM, ERP 25%, another 25% for business processes, and 27% for other applications.

Statistics about outsourcing provides us with a positive picture but more and more businesses are disappointed with their outsourcing efforts, according to new research.

Companies express frustration with the quality of work being provided, according to a survey, but most businesses still said they chose the cheapest outsourcing option instead of the best quality.

The question is why are companies frustrated with quality of work provided. What are the reasons behind that frustration? There can be many reasons. Reasons can be:

  • Language issues
  • Geographical problems
  • Cultural problems
  • Infrastructure and Operational problems
  • Lack of procedures and controls
  • No or poorly defined Service Level Agreements (SLA)
  • Lack of or poorly defined Key Performance Indicators (KPI)
  • Lack of guidance and follow-up
  • Failure to understand the business model, processes and expectations

Some of these listed issues may have a bigger issue on your business than others depending on the type of service that has been outsourced.

In my 12+ years of outsourcing experience the lack of guidance and follow-up by the Outsourcing Organization led to a failure of understanding the business model, the processes and expectations by the Outsourcing Partner. Yes, you read right – The Outsourcing Partner. It is important to see the organization/provider you outsourcing to as a partner rather than just a service provider.

Service Providers are organizations that provide services that do not directly have an impact on your business and its day-to-day operations. Service providers are banking services, payroll services, cleaning services, mail and package delivery services and other business services that have are not part of your core business model. Even certain outsourced IT services fall into these categories.  Again, some of the above services may be critical to the success of your business and at that time they must shift from Service Provider to Outsourcing Partnerships.

Outsourcing Partnerships must be established with any organization that provides services, which are part of your core business model and have a direct impact on the overall success and profitability of a business. These can be services like Customer Service, Supply Chain Management, Warehousing, Logistics (3PL Services), Software Development and more.

It is not that a “regular service provider” is less important to a business than a outsourcing partner that provides core business services. The difference is that a Service Provider will need less controls and less of an understanding of the core business processes. Some of these services have standard service levels they provide and not necessarily have exactly specified KPI’s and the according control mechanisms in place.

There for let us concentrate on a typical outsourcing partnership and the requirements to make it a success.

First we need to evaluate why so many business fail in outsourcing. Over the years, I have managed many outsourcing initiatives. At some I participated from the get-go and some either after they had failed or were about to fail. The number one reason has always been that the business, which was outsourcing services, did not communicate their expectations well enough or did not manage the third party provider. At the same time the organization, which became the provider of the outsourced services did not understand what was expected from them completely. The reasons have been multitude, but eventually always boiled down to lack of communication. The majority of organizations see outsourcing just as a personnel cost cutting measure and hand off all responsibilities to their third party service provider. Outsourcing initiatives, which are handled in such manner are for sure doomed to fail and will leave at the same time the impression that outsourcing does not work. This is why outsourcing has left such a negative impression with many people and organizations.

Often outsourcing projects will fail from the get-go, because an outsourcing relationship is established at the wrong level. Management is negotiating not only terms but also requirements with a sales department whose focus is to make the sale, without understanding 100% what is expected. Terms, SLA and KPI are negotiated and agreed upon before processes have been defined, communicated and put in place. It is imperative to have from day 1 all the people in the boat that are affected by the outsourcing measure. These folks really do understand their business.

I can attest that outsourcing can work and will work if done for the right reasons and if done the right way. I have successfully managed and participated in various outsourcing initiatives, like:

  • Outsourcing of customer-service-call-centers to offshore third party service providers, as well to onshore and nearshore providers.
  • Outsourcing of data center monitoring and support.
  • Outsourcing of data center replication and backup for data center redundancy and disaster recovery. At the same time improving the sustainability of not only the IT organization within the business but also the sustainability of the business itself in case of natural disasters or other unforeseen catastrophic  events.
  • Outsourcing of Warehousing, Logistics and Supply Chain Management to Third Party Logistics (3PL) providers.
  • Outsourcing of certain Accounts Payable and Receivable functions.

In many cases, outsourcing may not save you money but may improve your service levels without investing in more resources. This in return, over time, will improve company performance, reputation or brand awareness and hopefully <if done right> profitability.

It is highly recommended to engage not only reputable third party organizations that provide the to be outsourced services, but also to hire a person that has experience in managing and handling outsourcing projects. The person to be hired should not only know the does and don’ts of outsourcing but also be aware of the Structure of Outsourcing. It is also imperative to assure that your business model and the business processes that are to be outsourced make sense to be outsourced. A skilled person that has vast experience in outsourcing will be able to help to make this determination.


The Face of Supply Chain Outsourcing!

Supply Chain outsourcing has changed significantly over the last decade.


Supply Chain Outsourcing to a Third Party Logistics Provider or 3PL started out as having a product stored at an outside warehousing facility and then have the 3PL move the product from one facility to another based on instructions provided with each transaction order.

Today’s 3PL providers offer a range of additional services that range from

  • Physical logistics operations, like shipping and receiving.
  • Provide warehousing.
  • Manage complex operational handling, that may include repackaging, product maintenance, product consolidation
  • Administration.
  • Information Management Systems that integrate into and from a client’s backend ERP System, and automate the flow of transaction data, therefore minimizing human intervention and reducing data errors.
  • Providing customer broker services.
  • International freight forwarding, which may include the creation of all required customs forms and complying with all customs regulations (import & export) as well as providing so-called “Free-Trade-Zones”.

The type and number of services provided by the 3PL are defined during the engagement and contract phase, which also includes Service Level Agreements. These add-on services can quickly multiply and must be considered carefully.

Most important in any new 3PL relationship is not to go overboard and assigning to many services to the 3PL or not enough. Both scenarios can have not only a negative impact on your business but also on the business relationship between a 3PL and its client and, “Very Bad”, the client’s customer.

Why wouldn’t you give away as many business processes as possible right away to the new 3PL? Can it not just be in my interest to reduce my internal processes and labor in order to justify the outsourcing cost?

The danger here is, since it is a new partnership the 3PL is not to familiar with the clients operational processes, its customers and its products. Giving to much control and decision making to a new 3PL will cause friction in the day-to-day business operations between the 3PL and its client due to misunderstandings, lack of familiarity of business processes, and other requirements that were communicated either insufficiently or not at all.
At the same time will the 3PL client’s staff not be familiar with the 3PL’s operations and its issues and challenges. For this reason the client needs to monitor the 3PL’s operations and be able to assist and intervene right away until both sides are satisfied with the final outcome of the processes assigned and its expected results.

Keeping to much control inhouse at the client will have similar effects.
To much back-and-forth communication is required which can lead to misunderstandings and untimely business process fulfillment.
It can lead to friction between both parties due to misunderstood instructions and can be seen easily by the 3PL as being micro-managed.
It can lead to delays in any physical operations as it may pertain to shipping and receiving products into and from the 3PL location or processing and submitting the required paperwork or electronic equivalent transactions.
It is imperative to define responsibilities clearly. It is to nobodies favor to have contract and service level agreements that leaves the agreement up to interpretation by either party.

Any relationship with a new 3PL should be setup in stages with clearly defined time-lines in order for all parties to understand the expectations and responsibilities now and in the future.
Not doing so may lead to increased cost and delay in business processes implementation as well as it can put unnecessary strain on the business partnership.

Having a clearly defined Supply Chain Outsourcing Plan, will be a win-win situation for all parties involved, starting at the manufacturing operation, over warehousing and distribution to the final customers. It can lead for all parties to a reduction in cost and increase profits, since each party can concentrate on their core business processes.


Oliver Schmid has extensive experience in offshore outsourcing to the Philippines, onshore outsourcing to Canada and domestic Outsourcing of matrix oriented call centers.  He is also versified in outsourcing of data center operations and data center monitoring and support. In addition Oliver Schmid participated in various 3PL and Supply Chain outsourcing initiatives.


by Oliver Schmid / 4954 IT Consulting, LLC

Nearshoring (also known as “nearshore outsourcing” and “nearshoring”) means sourcing service activities to a foreign, lower-wage country that is relatively close in distance. (Source Wikipedia)

outsourcing2

Outsourcing means that you are sourcing experts in their fields.
Now, you made the decision to outsource certain business processes. The question now remains, do you want to go offshore, (which is usually from a straight financial aspect the cheapest solution), stay onshore (usually the most expensive solution) or outsource to a near-shore service provider (usually more expensive than off-shore but less expensive than onshore outsourcing).
The question you may want to ask yourself: “But how good is an expert that has all the technical expertise but does not understand your business needs and requirements, due to cultural misinterpretation or due to language barriers. What benefit does it have, if you have the hardest time to contact the people you work with due to differences in time zones.”

This is what may happen when you outsource to offshore service providers.

Please, don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against offshore outsourcing, where it makes sense. Not all outsourcing projects lend themselves for offshore outsourcing. I have worked in the past on various offshore outsourcing projects. Some were 100% successful but some we had to change midway and bring some of the outsourced BPO (Business Process Operation) either back inhouse or to a onshore or near-shore outsourcing partner.

Near-shore outsourcing makes sense in outsourcing projects that require frequent personal interaction, like hands-on product training and/or education about product and company processes. Another area that lends itself as a perfect candidate for nearshore outsourcing is software and application development and here especially if it is an add-on development to an existing solution that is critical to the overall business process.

More and more countries close to the US, like Argentina, Mexico and Peru have companies that concentrate t deliver near-shore outsourcing solutions in the areas of software and other technical IT areas. These countries have the advantage of being close to the US in regards to time zone and travel distances. People and organizations understand the US business culture better than countries in Asia or Eastern Europe.

If you are exploring outsourcing opportunities at this time or any time in the future please contact me and I will together with you evaluate your requirements. I will not develop and propose a solution based on my experience alone, but I will work with you to come up with a solution that fits all your needs, makes financial sense and delivers, while guaranteeing sustainability of the solution for the future.

Together with you I will find the right partner for you and will work with you through the process all the way from intiation to completion. I will be your partner  and your consultant at al times, representing your needs, requirements and demands. I have implemented offshore and nearshore as well as onshore outsourcing solutions in the areas of customer service (call center on demand support), software development, IT Infrastructure hosting and Logistics and Supply Chain outsourcing to 3PL and 4PL providers.

A provider we agree on will have the  expertise of advanced technologies has alloweto provide innovative, customized, groundbreaking, sustainable Nearshore software solutions and providing your business with an outstanding value and a competitive edge.

I work with service providers in the areas of IT Consulting that have an uncommon combination of experience, know-how and leadership, which allows me offer consulting services on the application of information technologies to achieve substantial improvements aligned with your business objectives. Whether it is in the areas of

  • Internet,
  • Technology Architecture,
  • Business Intelligence,
  • Network Security,
  • or custom Software Solutions Development.

The providers I chose with you can perform

  • Risk Analysis,
  • Vulnerability Analysis
  • and develop security policies suitable to your organization.

They advice and development procedures that guarantee for your systems:

  • Integrity,
  • Confidentiality,
  • Availability
  • and Irrefutability (Non-Rejection).

For a free one hour phone consultation please contact me at +1-770-776-6182 or send me an email to oliver.schmid@4954itc.com

by Oliver B. Schmid at 4954 IT Consulting, LLC;

You most likely have heard about 3PL Providers or Third Party Logistics Providers and wondered whether it would worth to consider and what benefits it provides? Or what even is a 4PL?
In the high pressure and fast moving Supply Chain Environment of today’s times 3PL Outsourcing has become a viable option for many distributors. 3PLs have led the way in logistics outsourcing. The core business of 3PLs spread into the areas of warehousing, distribution and supply chain control management. Suppliers that are forced more and more to reduce cost, while improving efficiencies are going more and more the way outsourcing their warehousing and distribution, including return-distribution, to these 3PL providers. A chore in itself can be finding and selecting the right 3PL partner. Some 3PL have not completely stepped up to the to meet the exact needs of its customers.
Many 3PL that have stepped up to the table to meet customer demands and requirements have migrated more into a 4PL provider relationship. As a typical 3PL warehouses your good and is responsible for the distribution, demands on see-through supply chain visibility and the request for more timely information has pushed some of the old-style 3PL to become 4PL providers.
A 4PL does not only handle your physical goods, but manages the whole business process, while providing its customers with the complete visibility of the complete supply chain process and flow at all times.
Integrating 4PL back-end-systems with the back-end-systems of its customers has become even more crucial. Users of a 4PL can focus on core competencies and better manage and utilize company assets and resources, as to inventory and personnel.

A recent study (2008) by the Circle of Logisticians at the Alumni Club of the Logistics Institute Asia-Pacific came up with the following key results:

  • 89% of 3PL users view the relationship with their providers as providing a strategic competitive advantage for their companies. Yet, even as value of services outsourced has increased, the proportion of total logistics spend has remained about the same over the years.
  • 75% of 3PL users rely on their providers for integrated services. Others do not due to factors such as fear of loss of control.
  • 86% of respondents agree that that green supply chains are somewhat important or important today. However, there is some uncertainty for some companies as to how they should proceed and what the exact benefits are.
  • 76% of respondents are generally satisfied with th security of their 3PL’s services, but there is still a gap between users’ and 3PL’s expectations.

Having setup and worked with multiple (5) 3PL and 4PL providers over the last 10 years, I can assist you in evaluatingyour 3PL or 4PL oustourcing requirements and support you in finding the right provider with the best service for your needs.

Please contact me for a free one hour consultation by calling (770) 776-6182 or by sending me an email to <a href=”mailto:oliver.schmid@4954itc.com?subject:Free One Hour 3PL Outsourcing Consultation”>oliver.schmid@4954.itc.com</a> with the subject line: Free One Hour 3PL Outsourcing Consultation.

More information about 3PL and 4PL Outsourcing can be found at: