I interviewed Alan Bermingham who discussed An Example of a Real Collaborative Business Partnership (CBP).
“True Accomplishments – Supply Chain Collaboration & the Power of Reverse Marketing”.
Who I am?
My name is Alan Bermingham. I am a Supply Chain and Logistics manager, specializing in Transportation, Physical Distribution and Procurement. With extensive work experience in Quebec, Ontario and USA, my success has been in leading corporate logistics teams in four (4) of Canada’s top 100 companies.
Could you share with us some of your business success?
Business is quite simple . . . In fact, it’s so simple, most people don’t get it. Bottom line, it’s all about people and relationships with a willingness to work together, in collaboration, for each other’s benefit. My business success has been built by establishing Collaborative Business Partnerships with suppliers, business partners and Supply Chain service providers.
Can you share with us one of your key accomplishments?
Absolutely . . . Managing a global import/ export logistics freight flow program for a major manufacturing firm in Quebec, Canada with Just in Time (JIT) inventory directly linked to hourly production schedules. Our challenge was to set up a seamless flow supply chain program for critical production parts imported from Europe. Considering that the parts were shipped in full containers from the supplier to our manufacturing facility on a daily basis which was operating 24/7. The supply requirements for replenishment were one (1) full container shipped each day and one (1) full container received each day – 365 days/year. Sounds simple enough; but, with holidays, weekends, weather conditions, multiple ocean and ground carriers involved, customs clearance issues and rising cost concerns, a sense of urgency was critical. The potential for disruptions that could shut down production and negatively affect delivery of finished goods was quite high. Collaboration of all participating contributors was a prerequisite for success. We introduced Reverse Marketing principles with our service providers to ensure that we engaged in complete collaboration and buy-in.
What is Reverse Marketing?
Reverse Marketing is about the relationship between buyers and sellers or customers and suppliers. What is essential to the success of these relationships is mutual trust, honesty and transparency.
A strategic approach was required to avoid service failures, limit the potential of error and attain a seamless flow of parts from our supplier.
A simple example of applying the Reverse Marketing technique is to ask the following questions:
- 1. What can we do, as the buyer of goods and services, to help you (the service provider) meet our mutual objectives?
The team agreed on a supply stream efficiency strategy and operational effectiveness that provides a winning proposition for all parties?
- 2. While helping us meet our objectives, what can we do to further help you improve your efficiency, reduce your costs and help build your business with creative incentives like shared critical mass from other suppliers?
This is the holistic supply chain approach . Here is how we did it.
The logistics team met with our import/export service providers and discussed all hurdles, to help prevent delays, disruptions and inefficiencies. Throughout the brainstorming sessions, we immediately began identifying ways to improve the supply chain and avoiding unnecessary costs which were contributing to our high Total Cost of Ownership (TCO). This can only be achieved with open-minded and trustworthy business partners. This actually turned out to be a forensic supply chain audit. These open discussions further led to informal and formal service level and cost agreements. These team meetings were held with two (2) freight forwarders and one (1) Customs Broker.
Since all Customs Brokerage activity had been centralized under one broker, this broker had access and visibility to all ocean containers imported each day. It only made sense to get both service providers to meet with us together at the same time . . . remember, they both had a common customer (us the client).
Step 1 - Working with our supplier in Europe, we were able to generate more shipping volumes to other customers in other areas of the world using both these two (2) freight forwarders and/or their agents outside of this specific project. This was value add for the forwarders and gave them both an incentive to handle our JIT project in full compliance.
Step 2 – Working in true collaboration with our suppliers and service partners provided us with a seamless flow supply chain model which optimized inventory, prioritized service and reduced our TCO.
Step 3 – Based on the successful outcome or our collaborative initiatives with third parties, the corporation formed a Worldwide Corporate Supply Chain Council (WCSCC).
This management council was made up of a group of senior logistics and transportation specialists mandated to apply reverse marketing techniques in order to improve each division’s supply chain service performance at lower cost. This initiative had complete signoff by our CEO and CFO. A carrier rationalization program was introduced with shared volumes, carrier and freight forwarder co-opetition and joint negotiations resulting in operational efficiencies, service excellence and lower cost. This collaborative initiative resulted in continuous replenishment and full compliance. Throughout my career, learning’s, experience, and successes were shared and used successfully with many other organizations.
It’s all about people and relationships working in collaboration with trustworthy business partners, committed to one common goal and meeting customer’s expectations at all times.
Where do you go from here?
Needless to say, I have had an extremely successful business career in working closely with my collaborative business partners (CBPs).
Today, buyers and sellers must use Reverse Marketing techniques and share best practices to accomplish collaborative supply chain success. True Collaborative commitment leads to tremendous supply chain efficiency and cost improvements. Unfortunately, many companies fail to realize the true potential of a collaborative and holistic approach to supply chain. Supply Chain success in today’s organizations will be defined by greater C-level engagement and commitment to collaborative business partnerships.
About Alan Bermingham
ACRM Cynergi Inc. - Supply Chain, Logistics &
Transportation Management (Consultant in Transition)