Normally a .01 release is intended to provide bug fix relief discovered by early adopters. Apple is in big scramble mode as iOS version 8.01 appears to torpedo not only cellular service, but touch ID and the new health app as well. While Apple expects to have this fixed with 8.02 in the coming days, the good news is that a work around exists to restore iOS 8 via iTunes. Instructrions can be found on Apple’s web site. http://support.apple.com/kb/HT6487?viewlocale=en_US&locale=en_US
WHEN TO OUTSOURCE—AND WHEN TO IN-HOUSE
At a recurring Certified Public Accountant (CPA) networking event I host, a lively discussion ensued when an attendee raised this question, “What types of services should a company outsource and which ones are best kept in-house?”
Among the wide range of opinions the accounting professionals tossed about, most of them nodded in agreement in response to this line of thinking: When outsourcing provides better quality service, faster, and at a lower cost than managing that process in house, this should be a no-brainer.
WHEN OUTSOURCING JUST MAKES SENSE
Our company, xkzero offers an easy outsourcing decision for mid-sized businesses that rely on less than truckload (LTL) shipping. The solution and service is called xkzero Transportation Management, powered by Echo Global Logistics and integrates with Sage 100 ERP and Sage 500 ERP.
YOUR SHIPPING DILEMMA
For all of you who ship product by LTL common carrier, tell me if this process sounds familiar:
- A customer requests a quote for one of your products.
- Since margins are tight and freight costs can be significant, you want to understand the full freight cost at the time of the order. Likely, your customer cares about the freight cost too, especially if they are paying. And if you are a salesperson paid commission based on gross profit, you care too.
- Besides the cost of freight, you will want to know the transit time for delivery in order to properly set customer expectations.
- If you use a 3PL freight logistics broker you do one of two things:
Call your broker rep or log onto a web portal.
With either process, you will provide the 3PL with all of the variables necessary to obtain an accurate freight quote, including:
- Shipping point of origin
- Shipping point of destination
- Freight class
- National Motor Freight codes (NMFC), if applicable
- Total weight
- Accessorial charges (such as inside delivery, storage, and hazardous materials handling)
If any of this data is missing or inaccurate, expect an inaccurate quote. You will then be provided with one or more carrier options.
o Next, record (somewhere) the quoted information so customer service/sales/shipping departments will be aware of your freight options. This is necessary since with these processes, unfortunately there is no integration into your Sales Order–ERP system.
- If you do not use a freight broker than you must do all of the above PLUS take these steps:
o Make calls to multi-carriers with whom you may or may not have relationships. Repeat ALL of the steps above with each call.
o Since you are not using a freight broker, your success in getting market favorable rates depends on the volume of shipping you provide that carrier, combined with the assigned team member’s negotiating abilities and stamina for haggling with each one.
o Similar to the 3PL steps above, now you must record each one of these quotes in your company’s databases, so employees in customer service, sales, and shipping departments will all be aware of the freight options and your intentions.
Are you tired yet? These grueling processes described above are time consuming, as you might imagine. This often results in a delay of hours or even days before you are able to provide a complete quote to the customer. And the multitude of steps required makes room for a number of opportunities for communication breakdown.
Worse, in situations when days–or even weeks–pass before the items are shipped then the entire quoting and booking process will be repeated all over again.
JUST WHEN YOU THOUGHT YOU WERE DONE
The process does not stop once the freight has left the dock, either, because for each order you book, you must track its details and redirect any failed or late shipments. Your Accounts Payable department is then tasked with matching up each and every invoice received from all of those different carriers, and auditing the records to ensure that the final charge matches the expected price.
THERE IS A BETTER WAY
Fortunately, there is a better solution: xkzero Transportation Management software and service transforms the entire LTL shipping process. With xkzero Transportation Management, users start by engaging with Echo Global Logistics (Nasdaq: ECHO), a technology leader and one of the world’s foremost transportation brokers to determine if booking through them can lead to freight savings. The result is a contract offer guaranteeing rates for one to three years.
At this point, as an Echo Enterprise customer, you will then have the option to streamline all of your processes—and save major time—through the complete integration for LTL shipping that xkzero has built within your Sage ERP.
xkzero Transportation Management adds all of the data elements necessary (even Freight Classes, NMFC codes and Accessorial charges) to quote, book and track shipments directly, accurately, and at the lowest cost, from within your Sage ERP. All this is done without having to constantly get on the phone or log onto a web site to conduct research.
You will be pleasantly surprised at the time savings. Also, this will result in total shipping visibility—right within your familiar Sage system.
Inevitably, both your internal and customer communications will measurably improve.
BUT WAIT. THERE’S MORE.
As an Enterprise customer with Echo, an expert logistics team will be dedicated to your account ensuring that your inventory is properly classified, guaranteed shipping rates are always kept current, and miss-shipments and late deliveries are tracked down and resolved.
xkzero Transportation Management is designed to give your Accounts Payable department a break, too. Weekly, you will receive an electronic file of all shipping invoices booked through Echo, audited to explain any differences between quotes and the amounts you were ultimately charged. When you are ready, simply push the button to bring those invoices automatically into your AP system.
Oh, one other thing—Echo automates your Bills of Lading too.
So, Mr. or Ms. Accountant, how is that for an outsourced service?
Paul Ziliak and xkzero can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 847-416-2009.