RateLinx Delivers Data-Based Decisions to Drive 20% Savings Across All Modes
Across all verticals, but especially in transport and logistics, many daily business processes become routine, and those routines are defined by “how things have always been done.”
Accompanying those business processes are various business tools, some technologically more advanced – like macros & formulas in Excel spreadsheets – and others more traditional, like email and phone. In many cases, much of a company’s progress each day consists of multiple calls to contacts, emails, updates to various databases and spreadsheets, and working with systems specific to a business unit, department, or transport hub.
The company’s success is often characterized by a few key personnel having the experience and oversight on the business that makes them the go-to people: the men and women who get asked all the questions, make dozens of decisions an hour, and generally work long days and nights that aren’t good for them personally, or suitable for the company in the long term. Furthermore, some employees inside complex organizations will always resist change or new processes, causing further challenges to true progress.
Successful Business Outcomes Require Quality Data
Like many organizations operating today, one Fortune 500’s new Logistics Director stated his company’s main problem was that the information the business needed was present, but the company was now too big and complex to allow him to bring all the data together. Therefore, neither he or any of his colleagues could get the insights they needed. As a result, less-than-optimal decisions were being made daily based on either opinion (at worst) or incomplete data (at best).
“We had no strategic logistics approach. It was very difficult for me to design and deploy a global logistics strategy when I was drowning in data, but starving for insights.” As a new hire parachuted in to change the company’s outlook, its mix of manual, standalone systems, and reliance on key personnel comprised daily working methods. What he’d inherited was what the company had inherited from its subsidiaries across the portfolio of business units. When he tried to get the required oversight, “data was only available by request and manually created in Excel…there were gaps in the data…there were a lot of errors.”
That’s a situation many in supply chain and logistics can empathize with, and one that couldn’t, in this and many other cases, be untangled with a blanket installation of an off-the-shelf TMS. Changing the way a company manages shipping and logistics to one that’s data-driven (or evidence-based) isn’t something that can be achieved by hoping software drives change. Organizational change must begin with a shift in company culture, challenging processes that are being done the way they’ve always been done.
In an ideal world, companies could “drop in” and start working on a new platform to achieve an overnight change in processes. In reality, deployment of any solution is usually done either piece-by-piece, or alongside existing tools and methods.
Although the Logistics Director originally thought he needed a TMS, what he really needed was accurate, complete, and timely data to 100% of his freight spend. A TMS, however, is not a visibility tool. To achieve this, he knew he needed to truly diagnose his data issues and develop and deploy appropriate solutions with a trusted technology and visibility partner. A technology partner was found by the Logistics Director (after a research exercise) that helped deliver over 20% savings in all modes of transportation in under 90 days, producing an ROI on the necessary investment in under twelve months.
This was no small feat of tweaking a few relationships here or changing a partner there, based on insights provided by the technology partner. The global company, with its new Logistics Director, purchased daily from over 20,000 suppliers globally and shipped all over the US.
Of the solution providers the company examined, any of the trialed TMS providers could have helped optimize perhaps one or two discrete areas, like automating freight ordering, overseeing bidding in truckload auctions, or putting in a new payment system.
Some might even have achieved all that, but they felt the chosen partner needed to be able to take the business to the next level, becoming the data foundation to power other initiatives and the bank for the business. It needed to help shift the business away from a series of daily tactical decisions, made on the fly as they had always been, to one that could be based on highly specialized business rules in every subsidiary business unit. Furthermore, the partner’s technology platform should be capable of integrating with every ERP, warehouse management system, and finance system (to name but three) in use in the company.
In short, rather than rolling out a shiny new system to replace everything, the platform chosen was to draw together what was there and provide the transportation, finance, and logistics functions with evidence, hard data, and the ability to make better decisions, faster. By augmenting their existing systems with the new solution, rather than replacing, the organization was able to deploy quickly, achieve results and ROI faster, and avoid the potential strain on resources required to implement new systems. The partnership empowered the organization to improve culture and unite the business units by streamlining processes and enabling teams to focus on more value-added work.
The support from the chosen partner’s systems and experience enabled the new Logistics Director to realize:
– 20% savings across all modes of transportation
– ROI in just days, sometimes within just a few hours in some areas of the business
– The required shift in perspective: “Suddenly we’re accountable to what we’re doing and have complete transparency and visibility to every decision that we make.”
– Visibility through technology dashboards into data right across the business, giving metrics like KPIs of savings, lost savings, potential savings, choices, impacts of decisions, rates, routes, and so on.
The changes necessary to this complex business did not come overnight, and the approach taken was implementing unit by unit, with each roll-out proving its value at every step.
The successes boiled down to approach and technology, but also from the chosen partner’s long-standing, proven background, with a data-first approach, and long history in the logistics sector. That supplier was, and is, RateLinx.
The RateLinx Difference
Some TMS software platforms are modules or “add-ons” to existing ERPs, which don’t have significant experience in the sector. Other software vendors have a prescriptive notion of how their platform should be used, and therefore, how its users should change. But the RateLinx difference is about moving a company’s focus to be data-driven, agile, and as far as possible in this industry, be up-to-date with information in real-time. Those abilities take deep industry insight and a long-term partnership.
The technology solutions available from RateLinx are designed to work the way a company already does, and can help move them to a new way of looking at the big picture of the entire enterprise. When shippers have many business units spread over large geographies, it sometimes seems like after-the-fact reporting is all that’s possible.
With total control over freight spend, carrier choices, truck booking, finance, payments, planning, and so much more, rapid implementation with RateLinx delivers quicker ROI. Business unit by business unit, the RateLinx difference becomes quickly apparent, with usable data, analytics and ROI starting to appear after just a few days with no professional service fees