Problem solving in logistics is a challenge. There is a constant tug of war between the shippers and the carriers. Fights over detention, pick-up and drop-off times, and general invoice arguments. As a 3PL, it is up to you to make sure the shipping process goes smoothly and everyone leaves happy. This, however, can be quite the challenge since, in many cases, it appears that there’s going to be a winner and a loser. It is up to you to resolve this issue and make sure it is laid to rest.
If you are reading this then you’re probably wondering how you can start using effective problem solving in logistics. Well, you are in luck because the concepts are pretty simple, although they can be hard to implement right. So let’s get right into it, starting with number one:
Delivering bad news is never fun and often leads to anger. However, honesty is absolutely key to problem solving in logistics and, in fact, all problem solving! You cannot solve the problem by sweeping it under the rug. For example, if you have a carrier waiting to deliver a load you have to keep them in the loop. Keep them updated so that they can adjust their schedule and figure out what to do. If you are withholding knowledge or, even worse, being dishonest then the issue will only grow. Being honest is only the first step though, it is the start of the problem solving process. In order to move through the rest of the process, you are going to need coordination.
Coordination is the summation of communication, hard work, and relation building. It is absolutely necessary for proper problem solving in logistics. It is a skill that should be developed by anyone that is dealing with shippers and carriers. When issues arise within a coordinated organization it can swiftly go from one person to the next, being chipped down piece by piece until it’s resolved. Without coordination, it is very easy for a problem to just get tossed aside and forgotten.
Having an actual process in place can really help with this. It is very beneficial if instructions are coming from the top on how to handle an array of problems. This way every single person knows their role and knows what needs to be done in order to resolve the issue. However, sometimes these processes can be slow and problem solving in logistics demand speedy resolutions. So, another way to improve the problem solving processes is with technology.
Technology makes problem solving much easier and, sometimes, can remove problems altogether. Having a new tool or software means being able to find and identify errors before they become an issue. An example of this would be if the broker sees rising prices in a certain lane they can communicate this to the shipper so that they can start to plan accordingly rather than be suddenly surprised by an increase in their shipping spending.
Additionally, technology just makes all communication faster. In the previous point we were talking about coordination, well sending an IM is a whole lot faster than a fax or carrier pigeon. So, it is important to ensure that these lines stay open and are being monitored. You don’t want to have all your customers’ calls going into an inbox. There are times, however, when even the best technology, team, coordination, and everything else won’t cut it. In these cases, it is important to have a well-written contract.
For when all else fails, it is important to have a contract in place. Sometimes problem solving in logistics just comes to a standstill where no one will budge. In these situations, having a substantial contract in place can make things a whole lot easier. At the very least it will force one side to take responsibility and then the matter can be put to rest.
Is Problem Solving in Logistics Ever Completed?
In short, no, there will always be issues that arise in shipping and logistics. There may be a point where we solve all of today’s issues. When that happens, however, we push to innovate and make the supply chain even better which of course leads to new problems. Because of this, flexibility may be the most important thing to have when problem solving in logistics.
Flexibility allows your organization to adapt to the issues that arise today as well as tomorrow. It’s needed to make those quick changes necessary to be successful. The ability to quickly find a new carrier to move a load while also adapting and developing new options for your carrier base. Also, to develop and adhere to new procedures that in the end help out everyone involved in the supply chain. At Becker Logistics, our associates are solving problems left and right as they come up. Our team is experienced and flexible which means that they can resolve pretty much anything. If you want to see if Becker Logistics is the right 3PL for you then reach out and contact-us or request a quote.