The smooth operation of fulfillment and distribution are the bedrock of a good supply chain. In order to complete these two important functions, however, your fulfillment team needs all members— both your internal staff and outsourced partners— to be on the same page.
Consider these four steps for creating a fulfillment team that has a stable and beneficial partnership.
1. Establish Goals
There are a few things you need to decide on before you ever enter into any kind of business arrangement.
Every business deal needs to begin with an understanding of what the expectations and goals are on both sides of the table. You want to ensure that your goals are achievable within the business arrangement and vice versa. Determine what it is you expect from the other party, and explain in detail what you will provide in exchange for the services or products.
Consider the following factors that could shape your expectations:
- Harvard Business Review suggests that you should evaluate personal goals of individual team members in relation to the goals of the team. This increases the value that team members hold for the goals of the group.
- Delineate what you want accomplished in both the short and long term.
- Have these goals written out on paper and signed by both parties in agreement of the business arrangement and provide a copy for both you and your partner so you each have the document on record.
- Identify possible situations that may be out of your control, such as weather or transportation problems, and determine how best to handle such scenarios so they don’t distract from the achievement of your goals.
2. Make sure that the partnership is mutually beneficial
In order to have a successful partnership, both parties must be willing to put in the necessary effort. If one side of the arrangement is not receiving a benefit, then there is not a true partnership. If your fulfillment team isn’t seeing a benefit that’s worth their while, then they’re unlikely to be fully invested in delivering on your brand’s customer experience. You may not see a noticeable dip in customer retention in such an arrangement, but it is unlikely that you will experience growth either.
Once you have written out your business arrangement goals and expectations, list the benefits of both parties. This will give you a clear perspective on whether or not you are in a somewhat balanced and mutual partnership.
3. Communicate regularly
Any relationship, whether it is business or personal, requires communication. Otherwise, paperwork can be misinterpreted, emergency situations go unmanaged, and transportation woes add stress. When entering into a partnership with a fulfillment and distribution team, it is essential that you set up open lines of communication from the very start.
Some ways to do this include:
- Schedule regular meetings— whether in person, email, via Skype, via Google Hangouts, or through phone based conference calls
- Check your tone of voice, body language and wording during your initial meeting to insure that you’re starting off on the right foot.
- Make sure that you are able to tap into your partner’s IT network so that you can monitor sales and delivery data.
4. Allow for reassessment
Growth is the goal ultimate goal of every business, and change will be inevitable as a business grows. You may find that a partnership that suited your needs perfectly well is having trouble keeping up with expanded demand 6 months down the road.
And it is your goals, carefully documented and shared with your partner, that provides the basis for your reassessment. Choose a particular time point to complete a reassessment, such as 30 days or six months, dependent on the frequency of interaction with the other party.
- Address the goals listed in the business arrangement.
- Determine if the goals have been met, or note what the reasons may be for not meeting the goals.
- Consider creating new goals if the original goals have been met.
- Identify any additional benefits or difficulties that have arisen, and consider these when writing a new business arrangement following your reassessment.
By evaluating your partnership, you can ensure that you are staying on track with your fulfillment and distribution goals.