Customers are no longer within a few miles but are spread across the globe. Regardless of the distance, speed still is of the essence. Logistics therefore has become the heart of the supply chain. This means that every industry, whatever be its size, has to factor in the transport and logistics sector as an integral part of their success.
Considering that this sector operates on speed yet it has very thin profit margins. Logistics companies are using digital technologies in a big way to process their shipping and transportation related information to ensure efficiency. However, logistics data entry is time consuming and comes at a high operating cost, making it advantageous to outsource it. This calls for a high level of technical competency and other prerequisites that a novice outsourcing partner must watch out for.
Freight bills are unique
A freight bill is essentially different from a bill of lading. The former is an invoice provided by the shipper to its client and is used for bill paying. A bill of lading, on the other hand is a legal contract listing items, weight, value and description. It also includes information about shipping and delivery times.
The problem is that there is no standardized format for either of these important documents. The information on the freight bill varies between companies. The complexity is further increased when you realize that from the point of pickup to delivery, many third party logistics companies can be involved (3PL).
In a global economy, sending products across the country or overseas will require the data services partner to be familiar with different type of documents and charges in different geo-locations. They must compare documents at different stages of the supply chain against the bill of lading and match it against the master database where contractual rates and terms are housed. This whole process can be error prone and BPO providers need to have quality processes that prevent it.
Multiple shipments, multiple payments
The logistics and transportation industry in America contributed to 7% of the GDP with spends of $1.4 trillion in 2016. This is a reflection of an enormous crisscrossing supply chain network that spans multiple transportation modes including air, freight rail, shipping and truck transport.
Specialists in freight process outsourcing are expected to make document workflow as efficient as possible. They need to be able to support all documents in all formats in each supply chain network segment. Often this can be paper bills and transportation documents, remotely scanned and transmitted. It requires understanding of different currency rates and new transportation legalities in different countries. Outsourcing agencies need the domain expertise to be able to deliver sustained results in a short period of time.
Quickness is Key
The sooner the different documents involved with shipping are digitalized, audited, approved and uploaded the faster an invoice can be prepared for payment. Outsourcing partners usually provide 24×7 support with high-speed networks that make round-the -clock document processing possible.
Potential service providers are also assessed for response time, cost-effectiveness as well as their ability to scale up operations as requirements grow. Another key area where novice outsourcing providers often stumble is in not having a well-defined emergency protocol. Sometimes particular data might require critical priority and urgent resource allocation will be required that does not affect other processes.
Get It Right
Experienced BPO companies understand the importance of recruiting the right people for the job. Often, outsourcing agencies who are fresh to this, look to save costs by trying to recruit cheaply and hope training can make up for any deficiencies. However, providing services at a lower cost than competitors could put a strain on data quality and accuracy.
Just imagine a single digit change in the zip code or a wrong placement of a decimal. If this is not detected, it could cause untold damage in downstream processes. Wrong shipments, delayed payments and loss of reputation are just the tip of the iceberg. Data entry service providers must ensure that errors if any are caught early. One of the many ways to ensure accuracy of data is to use a double-key entry verification process. This prevents errors that arise from wrong keystrokes.
Highly trained professionals who are backed by the latest in technology has helped leading providers to provide an accuracy percentage of 95%. Though a minimum of 90% is the industry norm.