For Choosing A 3PL
Experts offer advice on how to prepare for evaluating and choosing a 3PL that is a perfect ﬁt for
your operations today and into tomorrow. By April Terreri
he quest to ﬁnd the perfect third-party logistics (3PL) match 1. Design The RFP
to meet the needs of your company can be a daunting task. Before you even begin this jour-
The ﬁrst step on the journey is to understand your day-to-day ney, ask yourself if your compa-
business inside out, as well as what your anticipated future re- ny has the in-house expertise e
quirements will be. The creation of a thorough and thoughtful and manpower to prepare an
request for proposal (RFP) is paramount, but the process involved can RFP, send it out, manage the
be overwhelming if you are not certain about what you should include in responses, and then manage
the RFP so the process delivers the most effective solution to keep your the evaluation process, adviseses
operation running as efﬁciently as possible. Joe Sullivan, principal at Tomp-
A well-developed RFP will offer potential 3PL candidates a clear pic- kins Associates in Raleigh, NC.
ture of your operations; if your RFP lacks pertinent data, you could wind Putting together an effective RFP is
up with an ill-ﬁtting solution. “One of the stumbling blocks I have noticed critically important, but some companies just might not have the people
over the years is that many manufacturers don’t really know their busi- or time to develop an effective one. “A good independent consultant can
ness operations well enough so they can articulate their requirements to help you draft the RFP,” says Tom Patterson, senior vice president of
a potential 3PL in order for that provider to create the proper solution for warehousing operations for Saddle Creek Corp. in Lakeland, FL.
them,” notes Joe Marelli, vice president of logistics for New World Pasta Patterson suggests having in the mix a group of about six or seven
and Riviana Foods, Harrisburg, PA. candidates with the industry experience you require. Once you have de-
So how should a company proceed in the journey to ﬁnd the perfect termined who will be developing the RFP, here are some suggestions to
match in a 3PL? Our experts offer an excellent roadmap to discovery. assure its effectiveness.
16 OCTOBER 2009 • F www.foodlogistics.com
Develop clear objectives: “You need to be clear about your day-to- a solution of 100,000 square feet of warehousing space. But when inven-
day operations and particularly those operations you plan to outsource,” tory started transferring into the new startup, he discovered he really
advises Sullivan. For instance, let prospective providers know if you will required 150,000 square feet of space because he didn’t understand what
be outsourcing your warehousing operations, transportation manage- stacking requirements were applied to each of the SKUs,” says Marelli.
ment, or both. “So the assessment has to be this tactical in order to provide good, clear
Include critical data: Include complete and accurate historical data metrics that deﬁne the nature of your business so the solution is exactly
showing what your business looks like today, continues Sullivan. “Then the right one.”
develop the best possible projections for the future of your business. If Be clear about your expectations: Includ