We talk a lot about getting up and running with a visibility solution – from identifying the need for visibility, to implementation, to getting your teams onboarded and driving value across your organization. We often refer to this process in three stages: Crawl, Walk and Run. Simply put, we’ve found that the best way to set our customers up for long-term success is by taking a phased approach in order to get all the necessary processes in place for increasingly advanced undertakings. We work closely with each customer from Day One, giving them the tools they need to onboard their teams, apply the necessary training, and gradually work toward the skills and processes that will enable them to make the most of their end-to-end visibility solution.
Talking through this approach is one thing, and yet it’s quite another to put these plans into action. After all, every company is unique, and so, naturally, are the challenges and pain points each is working to overcome. That’s why it’s so rewarding to sit down with our customers and talk through their growth with the platform over time. Earlier this month I was honored to sit down with Glenn Lawse, VP Supply Chain USA for Ferrero USA, Inc. to discuss exactly that.
Over the course of our live webinar, moderated by Dave Maloney of Supply Chain Quarterly, Glenn and I discussed the ways that Ferrero’s visibility journey has evolved over time, including how the company identified a need for visibility, how they chose a provider, and their own crawl/walk/run path.
Seeing a Need
Since the time FourKites first entered the market, the standard indicators of a need for greater visibility have become more and more well-known throughout the industry. Typical FourKites use cases center around lowering operating costs and improving efficiency through better communication, automation and information-sharing.
In Ferrero’s case, one of the big challenges was providing a unified viewpoint for information across the supply chain, in addition to having greater awareness of on-time performance and the status of loads in transit. Ferrero splits its workload among three separate TMS solutions, so for them, FourKites is a way of bringing all that disparate information into one single view, therefore increasing actionability and the opportunity for collaboration among key stakeholder groups.
Choosing a Provider
Once you’ve identified your company’s unique challenges and determined that visibility is the way forward, the next step is finding the right partner to bring that solution to life. In addition to the capabilities of a vendor’s technology, so much of your success with the platform comes down to a successful implementation, training and ongoing customer service. We always recommend that prospective customers ask any vendors they’re considering a series of questions that uncover details on the platform’s implementation timeline, how they measure implementation success, and what support they offer post-implementation.
One of the biggest reasons why we wanted to use FourKites was that while we have a single global SAP ERP system, we actually have three separate TMS systems. And so getting a single view of where our product is at any given time is very difficult for us in our legacy environment. FourKites, among many things foundationally provides us a single unified view across our entire supply chain network.
– Glenn Lawse, VP Supply Chain USA, Ferrero USA
One of Glenn’s biggest concerns was around deployment of a visibility platform – in other words, how long it would take to get up and running from the time you sign the contract until you’re actively seeing improvement with your supply chain? To make sure that time is as short as possible, you’ll want to look for providers who have past experience with the systems, carriers and technologies you currently employ. Ask pointed questions about whether a prospective provider has out-of-the-box integrations with your specific TMS, ERP, dispatch, and other mainline transportation-related technologies. Talk with them to find out how many of your carriers have already been onboarded and are ready to begin tracking immediately. The faster you can get out of the gate with your existing systems, the faster you’ll start driving value with your visibility solution.
Learning to Crawl
Once you’ve chosen a visibility provider and begun to set up, you’re starting to enter what we like to call the “crawl” phase. In many ways, this phase is the least glamorous of the process, but also one of the most important, as the practices you put in place here will set the tone for your long-term success.
It’s important to keep in mind during this phase that all visibility solutions have a learning curve. True success with a technology like FourKites requires buy-in from numerous stakeholders both within and outside your organization, including your carriers.
One thing Glenn said really stood out to me, and it’s something a lot of our customers often have trouble with. Visibility isn’t about having an adversarial relationship with your carriers; rather, it’s about making your conversations with carriers more productive, transparent and, ultimately, strengthening the partnership on both sides. And, of course, better visibility illuminates opportunities for improvement for both carriers and shippers – a win-win for all stakeholders.
Finding Your Footing
Once you’ve laid a strong foundation, you can really start to unlock value from your visibility solution. This is what we like to call the “walk” stage, and it’s where things really start to get interesting.
A key hallmark of this phase is expanding the solution internally beyond the initial deployment group. As Glenn noted, some of Ferrero’s most enthusiastic FourKites users are outside the core transportation group, in roles such as warehousing and replenishment. That’s the beauty of this stage: Better visibility means different benefits to stakeholders throughout the organization, and you never know quite how much value someone will derive until they really get the chance to dive in.
It’s not just internal collaboration that stands to improve. Ferrero is also looking at leveraging FourKites data to strengthen carrier scorecards, reward high-performing carriers and refining the conversations they’re having with their carrier and transportation partners.
The final phase of the FourKites user journey is what we like to call the “run” phase – a period that’s totally unique from customer to customer. This is where you start to build on the changes you’ve made so far within your supply chain, identifying new challenges and improvements that were out of reach before.
In Ferrero’s case, they want to expand the reach of FourKites’ visibility and notifications to include not only internal stakeholders, but customers as well. In this way, they will be able to shift conversations with customers from the simple, “Where’s my truck?” questions, to the more nuanced “Why did a truck arrive late?” and “How can we use our data to proactively improve our operations moving forward?”
To me, this is the true power of the “run” stage: Customers are able to use big data to evolve their practices, reimagine their established processes and connect with supply chain partners both within and outside of their organizations to streamline operations like never before. And of course, we’re there to help every step of the way.
A huge thanks to Glenn and to Ferrero USA for agreeing to participate in this webinar and sharing your experiences with other FourKites customers. And thanks also to Dave Maloney and CSCMP’s Supply Chain Quarterly for hosting and moderating the discussion!