Continuous improvement is an important desire for users of 3PL services. Top 3PLs, and in fact most 3PLs, do a solid job establishing metrics and measuring progress against these metrics over time.
But that record is inconsistent across providers. In fact, lack of proactivity continues to come up on 3PL user surveys as an industry shortfall. Some 3PLs are viewed as “counterpunchers.” They react well when faced with a challenge, but don’t always foresee potential problems or proactively present solutions.
Most 3PL providers will talk a good game when it comes to quality. But here’s the thing about continuous improvement. It’s not just a mindset. It takes training and a clear understanding of the detailed methodologies and processes involved to generate cost-saving ideas and translate them into action. That, my friends, takes money that’s not directly paid by 3PL clients.
The 3PL has to write the check.
If you are evaluating 3PL providers on continuous improvement, what you want to determine is not their “commitment” to continuous improvement. You want to see if they are writing the check. Are they investing to turn their people into “waste-seeking missiles” within the organization?
At KANE, we just graduated 34 associates from the Six Sigma green belt program. The group included members of senior management, sales, finance and accounting. In June, that same group will tackle an eight week Lean training program through Villanova University, acknowledged as one of the premier Lean and Six Sigma education centers in the country. This is just the first of many waves of KANE staff who will go through this recently revised quality training program
Such programs are not inexpensive. But they pay off very quickly in the form of time-saving and money saving ideas.
KANE does not have a monopoly on detailed 3PL quality training programs. Many top 3PLs are investing heavily in continuous improvement. Others, however, focus their time and energy on describing their commitment to quality – on their websites, RFP responses and other promotional documentation – with little focus on formal training in a specific methodology.
Your job, as a discriminating buyer of 3PL services, is to look behind the curtain. Are they writing the check?
To learn more about KANE, contact us on the web or call 888-356-KANE (5263).