Expert Insight: Supply Chain InView
By Ann Drake
Date: October 16, 2009

Logistics Comment: A Good Foundation for Partnership


Using Solid Information And Realistic Expectations When Making Decisions

If you’ve been in the logistics and supply chain management business for awhile, as my company has, you have no doubt experienced your share of RFPs and selection exercises. There are the ones based only on price. There are others that ask for a solution, but are unwilling to provide real information on which to base it. And then there are some where the cultures are obviously mismatched – rather like one “is from Venus,” the other “from Mars.”


In Search Of A Supply Chain Partner

We were fortunate to successfully win new business recently from a process that was remarkably grounded in collaboration, honesty, and open-mindedness. The customer is a Fortune 300 company, an industry leader operating under particularly challenging market circumstances. When the company had recognized the need to re-do their supply chain, they engaged a consulting firm to help them decide what kind of supply chain partner they needed and then design and facilitate the process to select that partner.


My hat’s off to the company and the consultant for the process they used. Whether or not we had been successful in this endeavor, we believe that the process was designed to lead to a decision based on solid information and realistic expectations.

Making The Final Selection Using Collaborative Workshops

Beginning with 100 potential providers, RFIs went out to twelve and RFPs to six. When the selection was down to two finalists, the real collaboration began. Instead of relying on a written proposal, the decision-makers based their selection on a series of collaborative workshops. The selection criteria had been decided carefully and were communicated clearly. The process brought people at all levels together for dialogue and discussion – including a CEO-to-CEO meeting.


It all made sense, because what they wanted was not just another provider in a network where all the decisions had already been made. They wanted a Lead Logistics Partner who would take total accountability for their supply chain and who would be able to think with them through all the changes and challenges to come. As we’ve all learned the “right” solution is only right under current circumstances and must be re-evaluated and in some cases, redesigned on a continual basis.

Final Thoughts

Coming out of this process, we felt ready to hit the ground running because the partnership had already begun. The relationship had a good foundation and we could move forward together. If only more selection processes worked along those lines! Just think what that could mean for our companies, our industry, and our nation’s competitive position in the global marketplace.

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profile About the Author

Ann Drake is Chief Executive Officer of DSC Logistics, a leading third-party logistics and supply chain management company. She has been a long-term member of CSCMP and WERC and is Vice Chairman of the Business Advisory Council (BAC) for the Northwestern University Transportation Center.

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Drake Says:

Coming out of this process, we felt ready to hit the ground running because the partner- ship had already begun.

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