How to Get the Most Value from a Strategic Onsite Employee
When a shipper brings a provider’s strategic resources onsite, faster results can follow. As a provider of Managed TMS®, C.H. Robinson’s TMS + managed services solution, we’ve placed knowledgeable, strategic logistics staff onsite at client locations on many occasions. Recently, we talked to several shippers about the value they see in onsite engagements, and how they’ve managed to reach the positive outcomes they were looking for. We’ve compiled several tips drawn from those conversations to help other shippers prepare for having their provider’s employees onsite.
1. Pick a credible corporate relationship champion with the authority to enforce change before the onsite resource arrives. Outsourcing engagements build efficiencies by developing stronger practices and processes, and the onsite resource becomes the face of change for these improvements. A credible corporate champion can support the onsite resource and enforce company compliance to prevent obstacles to change. They can introduce and make sure the onsite resource has a seat at the table with key stakeholders for the fastest possible ramp-up in internal knowledge.
2. Keep the onsite individual from being overwhelmed. When the new resource arrives, they will be in a “one to many” relationship with internal stakeholders. It’s not unusual for onsite staff to be overwhelmed with competing stakeholder priorities. The champion can level-set expectations. One shipper commented that he purposefully set forth a few smaller, yet strategic wins that could be achieved quickly. That let the company’s stakeholders see what the onsite resource could do, while also demonstrating that the role wasn’t an operations position.
3. Figure out what will be measured early. Disagreements can arise once the relationship is underway about how to measure success. To keep everyone focused on continuous improvement and prevent continual disagreements, collaborate with the onsite employee. Standardize key performance indicators to measure, complete with formulas and definitions.
4. Rely on the fresh perspective the onsite employee can bring to the business. Strategic onsite employees gain a better understanding of the shipper’s business by being on the premises. The shipper gets a different perspective of their own business through the resource’s eyes. One shipper we talked to asked his onsite employee to investigate a puzzling increase in per piece costs. Eventually, the employee gathered the data and analyzed it to discover that a new team of buyers had been following different processes to save money. But their decisions were increasing the cost of goods in other areas. Combining the resource’s perspective with technology and analysis helped unite multiple disciplines within the shipper behind a single objective.
5. Utilize the onsite resource as your advocate with the provider. Strategic personnel can help inform and influence the provider’s future investments in technology, staffing, and services, based on improvements that could be made at the shipper’s location.
6. Expect some issues to be resolved quickly, and others to take more time to resolve. This is especially the case if the shipper doesn’t have strong data and reporting at the start of the onsite engagement. Even if implementation occurs exactly as expected, it’s unlikely that the resource can completely optimize the supply chain until enough data has been collected for meaningful analysis.
Be sure to thoroughly vet any logistics provider that claims they have strategic onsite employees available for placement. At the very least, ask to meet some of their strategic resources and find out how they ensure that those employees can translate theory into results that will meet your expectations.