By Bill King, SAP
More than ever, dependability is becoming a leading business differentiator. Consumers – for whom the pandemic has delivered an abundance of lessons on the importance of patience and flexibility – are fleeing to companies that can deliver as promised.
Pandemic aside, dependability has been growing in importance for years now. From Brexit, trade wars, and civil unrest to floods, fires, other climate catastrophes, companies today face no shortage of unpredictable events that lead to disruption.
To meet demand and stay ahead in this environment, smart companies are now prioritizing agility. Nowhere is this more of an issue than with transportation management and freight collaboration. When it comes to managing these processes and their associated systems during a time of constant and often sudden change, three key pillars come to mind.
The changing circumstances of today’s pandemic has required companies to respond effectively to dramatic shifts in demand. Interestingly, the issue hasn’t always been an absolute drop in demand but more that the demand has shifted lanes.
[ To dive deeper, view this webinar on transportation management featuring Kim Schieck, Solutions Manager for North America Logistics with General Mills and Jason Schweizer, Division Manager, Yamaha Motors US Logistics and Export Sales Division. Register here. ]
Take food, for instance. Manufacturers have had to shift from food that is prepared and packaged in a way that makes sense for restaurants to food that makes sense for families buying it from the grocery store. The same dynamic is seen with alcohol. For months, demand from bars and restaurants has dropped through the floor while liquor store sales are through the roof.
The company that can sense such shifts and respond effectively is the company that can meet customer expectations and stay ahead despite demand volatility.
When it comes to transportation management and freight collaboration, what exactly does responsiveness mean? It means the ability to collaborate with carriers in your network to ship goods in new ways to new places.
Many companies, for example, have moved to e-commerce as a result of the pandemic. This means shipping via B2C channels versus B2B channels. To keep pace, organizations need systems that are up to the task. Email and fax don’t cut it. What’s needed are systems that connect to business networks. This can allow your organization to expand beyond its established carrier relationships and more dynamically access resources to deliver what’s needed to meet customer expectations.
Finally, companies can benefit greatly from systems that allow workers to do their work when and where they need to do it. Mobile capabilities are good to have – but the first nut to crack is the ability to work remotely via systems that provide access to standard processes for transportation management and freight collaboration.
The simple fact is that right now, almost everybody who can work at home needs to work at home in order to minimize the spread of the coronavirus. But looking out beyond today’s particular circumstance, the ability to work wherever you need to – or choose to – can have tremendous productivity benefits. For companies that want to stay ahead, flexible systems that support remote work for transportation management and freight collaboration will help give them the edge they need.
Standing up systems that meet these requirements is getting easier – which means that many companies can get the job done much faster than expected. Much of the work involves connecting core logistics processes to data already stored in business systems – such as those for ERP. But look for solutions that don’t boil the ocean as you get started. Much better to onboard new capabilities in a more narrowly focused manner and then build on those capabilities as needed.
Good luck out there. And stay agile.
To dive deeper, view this webinar on transportation management featuring Kim Schieck, Solutions Manager for North America Logistics with General Mills and Jason Schweizer, Division Manager, Yamaha Motors US Logistics and Export Sales Division. Register here.