Optimizing Supply Chain Success

The Imperative of Consistency and Standardization in Managing Multiple 3PL Partners

As companies grow and their networks become more complex, developing a strategic approach that leverages the services of multiple third-party logistics (3PL) providers becomes increasingly essential. This is particularly true for large enterprises in the Consumer Packaged Goods (CPG) and Food/Beverage industries, which often rely on multiple 3PL partners to minimize risk and encourage healthy competition. However, managing multiple providers can be challenging, and the biggest question is how to ensure that each provider is treated fairly and managed accurately. This blog explores the challenges of managing multiple 3PLs. It provides strategies for creating a level playing field that promotes fair and accurate oversight for all parties while fostering a strong collaborative partnership to optimize operations.

Who owns the Warehouse Management System?

A common approach to achieving consistency across a network of third-party logistics providers (3PLs) is to standardize the warehouse management system (WMS) used by all parties involved. As more and more organizations migrate their operations to the cloud, many are upgrading their WMS and retiring older systems that are no longer supported and pose security risks. While the ultimate goal is to have a single, unified platform, most companies still find themselves working with multiple WMSs. However, by reducing the number of systems and ensuring consistency across similar operations, a solid foundation for managing 3PLs can be established.

Establishing a Strategy for Defining Productivity Targets and Goals While Handling Operational Nuances

Many 3PLs utilize Labor Management Systems (LMS) to enhance warehouse operational efficiency, each with its own method for setting and maintaining expectations or engineered standards. However, when multiple facilities within a network adopt consistent Warehouse Management System (WMS) processes, it challenges the decentralized approach to productivity goal development. 

Centralizing the development of productivity targets through method-based approaches, such as MOST™ or MTM, and leveraging a consistent software tool for engineered standard development enables uniform measurement across all sites. By defining the engineered standard or target based on the method and adjusting it using site profile variables (e.g., equipment types, grab factors), coupled with LMS functionality (e.g., XYZ coordinates for travel credit), performance and productivity can be consistently and accurately measured across sites, allowing adequate controls over the primary cost element – labor. 

When multiple WMS platforms exist, additional standards may need to be created for each facility type. However, this approach still drastically reduces the complexity of having unique standards in every facility.

Monitoring & Measuring Performance Across the Network

Employing a uniform bottoms-up approach to productivity goals or standards allows the integration of this information in diverse ways. A few benefits involve:

  • Leveraging the information for aligning budgets.
  • Engaging in discussions grounded in facts about performance challenges.
  • Supporting continuous improvement or benchmarking initiatives.

The most noteworthy advantage is the capacity to engage in fact-based discussions rather than relying on opinion or sentiment-driven dialogues. Implementing a consolidated dashboard or performance portal is the ideal technical solution to achieve this. 

Bringing together critical metrics from different facilities into a centralized location for consistent and accurate measurements while accommodating site-specific nuances provides a seamless tool for optimizing business operations. The dashboard & portal will encompass essential costs, performance, and service metrics. Most companies have an approach that centralizes service and cost metrics but often misses the performance piece altogether – mainly because it’s challenging to compare sites fairly. A consistent and accurate methodology will allow for actual “Labor Effectiveness” monitoring.

Some companies focus on the tool first (or only the tool), which does not drive the needed results and benefits. The tool on its own will add little value. Combining a centralized dashboard with trustworthy engineered data allows for informed business decisions, especially around productivity & performance, thereby delivering added value.

Maintenance & Sustainment

Establishing robust foundations and implementing smooth dashboarding creates the essential framework for effectively managing a network with multiple 3PL partners. The final component to complete this puzzle involves ensuring a solid maintenance and sustainment strategy for the accuracy of performance goals. In a landscape of constant change, warehouses are no exception. Evolving business profiles, shifting customer dynamics, and systemic process alterations necessitate updates to standards and productivity goals. Employing a centralized method-based tool and trained engineers to maintain accuracy enables a sustainable program moving forward.  

Consistent and Sustainable Results

In the world of 3PL-customer partnerships, it’s all about finding that sweet spot – a balanced approach that grows partnerships that last, maybe even for decades. Making these connections work is a team effort, with both sides jumping in and getting involved. Building a solid engineered foundation and layering in tools to keep score isn’t just about understanding each other’s businesses; it’s like setting up a system where everyone is accountable and in it for the win-win. When all parties are on the same page with common goals and metrics – ones that everyone can see, trust, and pull off – it leads to consistent and sustainable results. 

To learn more about the Connors Group and their combined 3PL Partner/Customer Labor solution, please get in touch with us at:

To learn more about the Connors Group, please contact us at:

Connors Group connorsllc.com | info@connorsllc.com | 800.813.7028