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I’ve taken some time away from writing due to some personal, and professional changes and this has taken me away from my schedule.  Things have started to settle down for me and my family now and I will be able to get back into a regular schedule.  In the near future now I will focus on the importance, and achieved value of a collaborative partnership with your 3PL providers.  I have believed for a very long time now that a contract provides the ‘rules of engagement’ when you encounter difficulties in an arrangement, or partnership.  I have also believed that the objective of a successful relationship, or partnership is to never have to execute the ‘rules of engagement’ outlined in the contract.  The reason for this is that I firmly believe that a partnership provides value and a contract provides a means to protect yourself if the partnership sours. 


So, how can you improve responsiveness through collaboration? 


The key is to focus on improving the collaboration with your 3PL partner that will develop a successful partnership, rather than focusing on integration and data management or process management.  The data management and process management capabilities are the price of admission now for the leading 3PL providers.  You objective must be to focus on developing the value add partnership that can only be created through open and two-way collaboration.   Your 3PL provider can provide you with ‘industry best practices’ out of the box as a foundation, or baseline.  The next level is to extend your visibility deeper into your own supply chain by extending the best practices to your extended supply chain.


Here’s another bit of advice, while I’m at it, don’t dwell on the capabilities, or lack of capabilities of your extended supply chain!  There is a very high likelihood that when you explore the opportunities to extend your reach and collaboration across your extended supply chain you will find that your partners either react with relief that they can finally begin sharing information, or will be anxious to take advantage of the collaborative capabilities that your leading 3PL partner can provide.  I would be very surprised to hear that many of your extended supply chain partners would turn down this type of opportunity for collaboration, and in fact I would bet that many of your partners have to take additional steps on their side to limit the collaboration.  This concept begins to develop the social supply chain, or the supply chain 2.0 within your community. 


In addition to the improved responsiveness this supply chain 2.0 community will also bring improved value to all members.  The community concept ties the members together for the common good of each member.  The value of this community will not focus on the cut rate, or lowest cost, contractual obligations, but it will focus on how the community can raise everyone’s performance and solidify the long term partnership for value.  This type of community will increase the overall value for each of the members and will also become the basis for a flexible and responsive supply chain.


The leaders in the 3PL market can provide the framework and foundation for developing this supply chain 2.0 community.  They can bring to the table the value add partners that can support and encourage the community.  You can bring your extended supply chain partners to the community to increase the overall value of the community to each member.  This shared commitment and collaborative environment will provide the framework for sustainable growth to each of the members of the community for years to come!


Now for the audience participation portion of this program……


What is your relationship with your extended supply chain?  Do you have a collaborative relationship or are you focused on integration and data management?


Does your 3PL provider offer a collaborative, or community, environment?