Warehouse Protocols

Your company is running fine then one day someone gets hurt or makes a complaint and it all goes downhill,  fast.  Allegations  are fired at you stating that you did not provide adequate training, that there were no systems in place, etc, etc.   But you were doing what you thought was right, you did not do anything wrong – in today’s world that will not cut it. What you think (or don’t think) can get you in trouble.

This particular flash is about warehousing although it can apply to every area of your business. You need to draft some protocols, some instructions, an explanation of who does what and when they should do it.

I call them guidelines, but they can be called anything for example work instructions or procedures,  as long as you make sure they are used and understood by everyone.  In this scenario I am referring to the warehouse, but it can apply to any part of your business.

So you are storing and distributing products from your own warehouse – have you documented what happens and who does it and more importantly who does what when it goes wrong?  Your document should include sections such as Responsibilities, Hazard Identification, Risk assessment, Risk Control, etc. These, along with a number of other item are important in running a safe and efficient business.  Yes it is not just about safety, it also includes efficiency and effectiveness.  In simplistic terms efficiency = dollars and effectiveness = goals.

When you have a document that covers such things then you can start moving forward, defining where you are and what needs to change, plus it is a way of ensuring that everyone knows what should happen, when it should happen and who to turn to when it doesn’t. Then build in review cycles, these should include those ‘on the line’ as they will know far more than you what is and is not happening. Use this knowledge, it is free and possibly (probably?) have positive repercussions for your company.

And as always, if you need help, I am only a call (or email) away.

3PL not performing?

Your stocks are all out of sync, you have credits mounting up in the warehouse not processed, stock is written off at every stocktake and you were told using a 3PL would make your life easier.  Now you feel you made the wrong decision!

This is a common theme I come across, companies (of all sizes) have out sourced the warehousing/distribution to 3PLs and it has all gone wrong.  The obvious target:  the 3PL (while the 3PL has another target for all their woes – you).

The usual chain of events:  the outsourcing contract is signed, the 3PL takes over and everyone is happy. The information flows back and forwards, the stock goes out but over time things start getting a  little lax or the information starts backing up and before you realise, you have customers complaining. As far as you knew there were no issues – until now,  and it’s crashing.

Working with 3PL s is not a way of removing yourself from the task.  3PLs are really a part of your business but working at arm’s length.  You need to build a rapport with them, have daily contact (not just sending them outbound orders) and weekly, if not daily, performance reports.  If you stay on top of the situation eg: number of Returns not processed, Daily Orders still to be processed, P/O Receipts to be processed, etc, you will not get any surprises.

By working together they can add value to your business, and as you get to understand 3PLs, you can make it easier for them to do theirs.  Your goal  and theirs is to achieve a win-win relationship,  the ONLY other option is a lose-lose.  They work for you, so you still need to manage them (this may even require a standalone role!).

If you are in this situation give me a call, I can either guide you through or jump in and help you through the process.