Some of the world’s largest companies engage with relatively small logistics consulting firms to help them navigate their way through complex logistics decisions. Don’t these companies have internal expertise in logistics? Of course they do, so what value do they find in engaging consultants?
One answer is that being a professional logistics consultant is a substantially different occupation to being a logistics manager, and it requires a different skill set. While the best logistics consultants will generally have some operational experience on their CV, they will also have exceptional analytical capability, and the ability to distil and communicate the key messages from the outputs of their analysis.
Below are some common questions addressed by logistics consulting projects:
- “We’re growing, what should we do about our logistics?”
- “How do we make our operations more productive?”
- “What equipment should we use in our warehouse? How should it be laid out?”
- “We’ve acquired another company, what is our combined network strategy?”
- “We need to understand our logistics costs better at a customer / product level”
- “We have too much stock, how can we reduce it without affecting our customer service?”
- “Are we paying too much for transport? Is there a way to reduce transport costs?”
While a professional logistics consultant is dealing with these issues (among others) all the time, operational managers will only have to address them occasionally. An experienced consultant has seen these problems before and know how others in your industry (and other industries) have dealt with them – what has worked and what has not. She or he will have developed structured approaches to the common project types.
As these requirements are sporadic, it is simpler and more cost effective to use a flexible resource than to retain employees with the required skills. The desire for an external view is another factor, which is why even those few large companies that do have internal logistics strategy teams still use consultants from time to time.
When selecting a logistics consultant, it is important to ensure that they have the right capabilities and experience, and are independent of selling any product.
So whether your reason for needing a logistics consultant is due to complexity, urgency, a lack of internal resources or a need for specific expertise, make sure you select a firm of professional logistics consultants! This will improve the chances of a successful outcome for your project.