Over the last few years I have visited numerous third party logistics warehouses. In the majority of cases the purpose of the 3PL site visit is to evaluate a potential service provider as part of a formal RFQ process. Whilst the format and the flow of each visit may vary, what I am trying to learn or uncover about the supplier always remains the same. Sometimes the answer comes as the result of a direct question but often times it comes as an observation or through an informal conversation during the meeting or site tour.
Even though I have undertaken this process on many occasions there are times during the visit that I will stop and refer to the 3PL Site Visit Checklist that I have created and store in a Microsoft OneNote notebook on my mobile phone.
A quick glance at the checklist along the way helps to jog my memory and I will always have one last check prior to wrapping up the meeting just to be sure that nothing has been overlooked.
The complete checklist includes a series of prompts that trigger a question or serve as reminder to observe certain parts of the operation during the meeting or whilst on the site tour. In summary the things I am trying to understand include:
- The suitability of the location
- The type of equipment that is being used
- The culture of the organisation
- The operating procedures and systems that are being used
- The type of security measures that are in place
- The compatibility with your existing business requirements
- The service levels that can be expected
- The cost model that will be applied
- The on-boarding process
- The process of managing the relationship