What Makes a Good Supply Chain Logistics Consultant?
With the supply chain and logistics being two areas that are constantly evolving, it never hurts to consider a supply chain management consulting partner to analyze your operations and see where improvements can be made. But if you’re a business leader or manager that doesn’t typically use logistics management consulting companies, it may be hard to determine which one will be the best for your organization.
In this case, some may be tempted to avoid requesting their services to begin with. But eventually, every company, regardless of size or industry, will hit some challenges that will be beyond their skills to resolve using only their internal sources. It’s at times like these when consulting teams will be of tremendous help. They will analyze your supply chain processes from top to bottom, identify the issues, and offer cost-effective solutions. They will also help provide a seamless implementation of these solutions, further benefiting your organization.
Nevertheless, it’s important that you can make the distinction between a good and a mediocre supply chain logistics consultant so that you can make the most out of it.
Why Work with Supply Chain Management Consulting Companies?
Before we can go into the characteristics of an efficient consultant, we need to take a look at the benefits that supply chain consulting firms have to offer. These may include the following:
- Focus – Even under the best of circumstances, internal managers will rarely have the necessary time to focus all of their efforts identifying and solving all of the company’s logistical and supply chain systems issues. They will typically have other duties to attend to, meaning that their time will be fairly limited. Trasnport management consultants, on the other hand, will focus all of their efforts on this task alone.
- Objectivity – Try as we might, nobody is truly free from our company’s culture or politics. This will often skew our views, making it that much harder to identify or solve issues. Consultants are in a better position to bring independent and impartial viewpoints.
- Experience – This point should really go without saying. When a typical organization faces a supply chain or logistical problem, it’s most likely for the first time. For a supply chain management consulting partner, however, these issues are their field of expertise. This often means that they have the tools, experience, and know-how to handle the situation.
- Additional Skills – Aside from their supply chain and logistics expertise, consultants can also contribute to your organization with additional skills. These include things like project management, change management, leadership, risk management, communication, and supply chain analytics, all of which can be used for successfully executing projects.
- Change Benefits – Thanks to their skills and experience, professional management consultants can help you identify and quantify change management in your supply chain. Their recommendations and insight into various improvement opportunities will be backed by modeling strategies. This will eliminate much of the guesswork and produce measurable outcomes that can be improved.
With the majority of benefits out of the way, we can now look at the marks that indicate a good supply chain logistics consultant. The most noteworthy will include the following:
A Proven Track Record
Good consultants shouldn’t only have a good track record, but they should also be able to prove it. When implementing a comprehensive supply chain strategy, consultants will often have to deal with a lot of cross-functional work. They will interact with company associates from different departments, such as transportation, warehousing, inventory optimization, finance, etc.
During their process improvements, supply chain logistics consultants will need to keep the focus on the big picture and not allow themselves to be sidetracked by the internal demands of each department. A good supply chain logistics consultant is someone who has the necessary experience to hit zero-based budgeting goals, meet deadlines, and outperform expectations. When looking for one, companies need to consider consultants that can prove their track record.
Entire Supply Chain Experience
Good management consultants will always have direct experience across multiple areas of the supply chain and not be specialized in one area like inventory management or logistics, for instance. As we said, the supply chain is made up of numerous departments, and the idea is to have them work seamlessly together.
Someone with an exclusive logistics background may not truly understand what goes into demand planning or vice versa. As such, they won’t know why certain decisions are being made and won’t know how to improve performance. Now, even though it’s unlikely that a consultant will have experience in only one area, it’s nevertheless important that they should be well versed in several. This will help them form a broader picture, useful for all the process improvements that are to follow.
A Good Understanding of Your Industry
Companies come in different shapes and sizes, which means that their needs and processes are somewhat unique. The right supply chain logistics consultant will have to evaluate the inner workings of your organization and should have a pretty good understanding of your industry. This includes everything from inventory management, supply chain systems, change management, risk management, logistics management, and everything else in-between. Figuring out your company is hard enough without having to learn a new industry – particularly if it has specific processes.
That said, if you operate in a niche industry and it’s hard to find a consultant with a background in it, the next best thing is someone with experience in a parallel industry. Say, for instance, you operate in a specialized manufacturing industry. In this case, you should look for a consultant with a background in manufacturing logistics.
As we said in the beginning, logistics and supply chains are constantly evolving. The main reason for this is the rapid development of new supply chain technology in these fields. Companies can make significant investments in new information systems, hoping to improve and streamline their processes. Yet, if staff members don’t know how to use them effectively, they won’t be able to get a lot out of them.
Good supply chain consultants will need to be up-to-date on these systems, know how to implement them, and how to conduct advanced analytics. They don’t need to have an IT background, but a solid understanding of how they work and how your company can use them to their fullest extent.
In the context of supply chain management, cost-to-serve is a process-driven accountancy tool used to analyze how costs are consumed throughout the supply chain. It highlights how each customer and product demands different activities and has a different cost profile. This cost-to-serve methodology will help you understand how profitable your business is or how it can be.
It offers an integrated view of costs at every stage of the supply chain and enables you to focus on long-term decisions and how to prioritize your short-term actions. You can reposition your customers and products, as well as how they are served to improve your bottom line. A one-size-fits-all approach will never work, however, and consultants need to know how to leverage this methodology and implement it into your own business.
With these tips, supply chain outsourcing shouldn’t be a problem and will gain you a competitive advantage and improve customer satisfaction. Need help with managing your supply chain performance? Redbird Logistic Services can help!! Contact us today!