Based on conversations that I’ve had with 3PLs, retailers, and consumer goods brands, I can with 99% accuracy say that “Your process is not keeping up.” 

Not only are you missing SLAs, but costs are ballooning from order fulfilment errors and returns. You have an idea of how to rework the process with supply chain technology. Why wouldn’t you do it? It’s your business and you know it better than anyone. Then why did the last 2 reworks only temporarily bend the curve? 

Our experiences drive us, and market and industry experience could be missing from your in-house fix.

Going it alone may look cheaper or simpler, but you could be prone to making the same old mistakes, reinventing accepted solutions, or – even worse – going down paths known to fail. 

Partners are essential

Unless you have an entirely new business problem – 99% of us do not – there is no reason to reinvent the wheel. In our collaborative services economy, you can purchase best practices and supply chain technology. That’s where partners are invaluable.

Partners come in all shapes and sizes. With the shift to a services model – terms over perpetual licenses – almost every decision to bring in a partner is about who you want to work with and for how long.

Traditionally, one’s first thought is management consulting. That’s one option. In this age of ‘Anything as a Service’, labour, hardware, and software are all components in a composable supply chain technology network. Compose your network by partnering with the expertise you need, which frees you to focus on your core business. 

5 benefits of composable supply chain tech partnerships

Do I buy, build, or partner?’ is a difficult question businesses face. However, all modern businesses are partnering. There is a partner that specialises in exactly what you need.

Let’s consider 5 reasons why a composable supply chain technology partner network enhances your core mission.

#1: Purchase the eureka, not the experiments

Very few of us are successful self-directed learners. While there is the potential to stumble onto the right answer – or an entirely new way of thinking – without a guide, the odds favour wasted time, effort, and resources.

Partners guide you with tried and tested supply chain technologies and techniques, immediately. Experienced partners have run hundreds if not thousands of implementations, gaining invaluable insights, skills, and confidence in the process. They’ve distilled down frameworks that work regardless of their customer’s nuances. More importantly, they know what never works. 

Nothing is completely plug-and-play, but the right supply chain partner can deliver the 80% that is universal in all situations. They then guide the process of tuning to your business needs. 

#2: Less risk, faster timelines

There’s a famous quote associated with Thomas Edison on being asked about the sheer volume of failures ahead of inventing the lightbulb: 

“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.”

That’s fine if you’re inventing something new. 

But do you have the customer tolerance to work through 9,999 shipping processes? Will they accept that when your competitor has figured it out first? Rhetorical; the answer is “No”.

Because partners do a select few things very well (and have seen it all) they deliver reduced timelines and lean, streamlined processes. Your business’s health demands it.

#3: Don’t be a jack of all trades

Many of us have done more than a few DIY projects. We saved some money but, in almost all cases, these projects took significantly longer than calling a professional. We’ve invested time and frustration. In the worst cases, we’ll need to redo the work.

Being handy at fixing everything is good for home ownership, but it’s not commercially appealing. 

Everything you try to do outside your core business saps attention and energy from being the best firm for your customers. Instead, more and more companies are better served by a bespoke partner stack of technological and intellectual expertise. 

The market is full of partner firms specialising in specific verticals or even niches within verticals. This focus allows them to bring to market something that is the ideal solution for YOUR needs. 

They focus so you can focus.

#4: Skill up, augment, outsource

You’ve got a month-long project. You just need a little manpower, or some academic insight, to get it done. You need to get this right.  The market is moving too fast for trials by fire. It’s too high risk in an environment where the consumer shows less and less loyalty. 

Sure, one-off projects are easy to complete. You sign a quick statement of work and get back to executing. But when you need a skill long-term, you must acquire it. 

Luckily, supply chain technology and consulting partners provide educational services. Technology vendors provide virtual or in-person training during implementation, and consulting firms run programs for educating organisations, often in parallel to fixing the original problem.

Partners also offer staff augmentation or even Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) if you choose not to own a function as you grow. A 3PL is a perfect example of outsourcing a process partially or entirely. In this case, external staffing can be spun up and down, focusing expertise when and where needed without permanent personnel increases.

While Malcolm Gladwell proposed it takes 10,000 hours or more to master a new skill, you can acquire that from partners immediately in the best way for your organisation.

#5: Necessary second opinions

The business you’ve built isn’t just a process; it’s personal. But that can introduce blind spots.

Emotions can make us dismiss certain types of solutions—such as our aversion to “big, expensive consulting firms.” Those monolithic or best-in-brand supply chain solutions are for other businesses, not yours. Reasonable solutions seem bad for purely emotional reasons. The best solution can even be seen as antithetical to the current business.

Related: 6 Things WMS Software Companies Left Off Their Brochure

Partners sit outside the business

They bring fresh eyes to the problem you want to solve and are not restricted by accepted constraints or social-political limitations when proposing answers. They are uncoupled from organisational history and are not invested in the previous solution.

Partners also provide validation

You often know the right thing, but you want to compare that to market wisdom before moving forward. Consulting partners may validate your hardware selection process. Technology vendors can simply automate the rules you were already using. Not everything is rip-and-replace. Sometimes, it’s tweak-and-refine.

When you aren’t sure, collaborate with supply chain technology experts to gain confidence that you’re doing the right thing at the right time for the right reasons.

From each, their strengths

Competitive advantage is what sets every firm apart. It’s what helps you win and keep your customers. Your competitive advantage is the core thing that your customers associate with you, and it should be your focus in the market. 

When you need to adjust your business, composable supply chain tech partners give you the most flexibility. They allow you to focus and accelerate growth and efficiency without persistent drag on the bottom line.

Building the best composable supply chain tech network for your business creates far more value than what can be built alone.

Ultimately, partners allow you to borrow expertise when needed to grow your business and keep your eye on what makes you unique.