Why don’t we just set up a small internal team to deal with this?

No problem. In fact we frequently work alongside internal teams – delivering in-depth technical skills as well as diagnostic and project-management experience.

Having these skills on board will help to achieve your goals quicker and more incisively than an internal team who may be feeling their way around in the dark. You get better value because you are paying for highly-focused expertise, while using your own resources to keep the project moving along more economically. SCMO does projects "with" our clients, not “to” them.

Why choose SCMO rather than another advisory firm?

We will be substantially more specialized and focused than a very large firm, and by using us you will always have the same point of contact from the initial meeting right through to the end of the project. Satisfying the needs of your business will be of the utmost importance to us, because yours will not be one of dozens of projects under way at any time.

Also SCMO growth has mainly been the fruit of "word of mouth" referrals & appreciations from our customers. This has been happening only because these customers are happy to have chosen us.

Who can take care of my transportation & warehousing?

Typically freight forwarders, shipping lines, airlines, trucking companies, and/ or railways companies can take care of your transportation. Typically warehouse operators, freight forwarders, advanced logistics 3PL, and logistics operators can take care of your warehousing.

SCMO cannot take care of your transportation nor of your warehousing, as SCMO does not operate.

On the other hand, SCMO can help you:

  • structure your transportation & warehousing operations
  • train your people for taking care of your transportation & warehousing operations
  • put to tender your transportation & warehousing volumes
  • choose the right subcontractor(s) for your transportation & warehousing needs
  • audit/ make a due diligence of your transportation & warehousing operations
  • benchmark your transportation & warehousing operations
     

What should we look for in a logistics advisor?

Bear in mind that “logistics” and “advisory” are two very different skill sets.

You can appoint a logistics professional to carry out a project, but if he or she lacks advisory skills you may – for example - end up with a good technical report on what should be done, but no internal conviction within your company as to the right way forward. If you appoint an advisor with no in-depth logistics experience you are at least doubling your risks.

Other than that, look for “done it before” experience relating to your particular needs, and relating to your industry sector. Ensure that the advisor who has “done it before” is actually on the team that is going to do the work, rather than merely being there for the sales meetings. If in doubt, follow up references. Effective advisors will have no problem in getting past clients to speak in their favour, and so can SCMO.

What is your methodology?

We don’t do cookie-cutter work, and our approach to each project is designed around the particular needs of each client.

SCMO is thoroughly conversant with all logistics, transportation and supply chain management principles and best standard practices, but we treat these as guidelines for designing a project approach, not as ends in themselves. Our view is that “methodologies” are often adopted by large competitors who put less experienced staff on a project using a painting-by-numbers approach.

What is the value of SCMO work?

SCMO strives to delivers work’s quality to the level of the best-in-class and oldest advisory firms, such as McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group (BCG), AT Kearney, and/ or Booz Allen Hamilton. SCMO generally charges at the level of the Big Four (Deloitte, PwC, Ernst & Young, and KPMG).

Not only is SCMO capable to deliver services at the strategic layer of expertise, but SCMO experts are also capable to implement what has been planned. To avoid conflict of interest, we generally avoid to implement what we have audited or studied first.

What is the difference between a 3PL and an advanced logistics 3PL?

A 3PL is typically a freight forwarding company and/ or a courier company. Such companies are very customer-centric and take care of everything for their customers from A to Z on the planet. What is generally invisible for their customers is that they tend to subcontract most of their actual operations such as:

  • trucking at origin (to a trucking company)
  • warehousing at origin (to a warehouse operator)
  • customs clearance at origin (to a customs broker)
  • shipping by air or sea (to a shipping line or an airline)
  • customs clearance at destination (to a customs broker)
  • warehousing at destination (to a warehouse operator)
  • trucking at destination (to a trucking company)

An advanced logistics 3PL is a 3PL that has integrated part of their actual operations that are usually subcontracted. Typically is could be 3PL which own warehouses, trucks, or a warehouse management system (WMS) that allows them not only to manage warehouses professionally, but also to integrate part of their customer's supply chain such as supplier's PO management, reminders, track & trace...etc.

Some of those advanced logistics 3PL sometimes even get involved in partial manufacturing for the account of their customers, especially in the garment & textile, as well as electronics industries.

Some courier companies not only own warehouses and trucks/ vans, but also planes. As such they are both 2PL and 3PL.

What is the difference between 3PL and 4PL?

The definitions of 3PL (= third party logistics provider) and 4PL (= fourth party logistics provider) differ.

Introduction

We consider that:

  1. 1PL are shippers and/ or consignees, which have cargo to send/ receive from a point A to a point B on the planet, such as manufacturers, factories, trading companies, importers, exporters, wholesalers, retailers...etc
  2. 2PL are transportation companies, which actually own physical means of transportation/ storage, such as shipping line, airline, trucking company, railways, warehousing owners...etc
  3. 3PL are facilitators or consolidators such as freight forwarders or courier companies, which provide a one-stop-shop solution to 1PL (their clients), while mostly subcontracting to 2PL (their sub-contractors)
  4. 4PL are part of an emerging industry (blue ocean strategy) of advisory firms, which help all industries with advisory services relating to the industries of logistics, transportation, and supply chain management

3PL (third party logistics provider)

The term "3PL" was first used in the early 1970s to identify intermodal marketing companies (IMCs) in transportation contracts. Up to that point, contracts for transportation had featured only two parties, the shipper and the carrier. When IMCs entered the picture – as intermediaries that accepted shipments from the shippers and tendered them to the rail carriers – they became the third party to the contract, the 3PL. But over the years, that definition has broadened to the point where these days, every company that offers some kind of logistics service for hire calls itself a 3PL.

To put forward some standard definitions, we would adopt the definition of "3PL" found in the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ glossary, which reads as follows: "A firm [that] provides multiple logistics services for use by customers. Preferably, these services are integrated, or "bundled" together, by the provider. Among the services… [3PLs] provide are transportation, warehousing, cross-docking, inventory management, packaging, and freight forwarding."

4PL (fourth party logistics provider)

The term "4PL" has generated even more confusion. The term is generally considered to have been introduced by Accenture, which registered it as a trademark in 1996. Accenture described the 4PL (or fourth-party logistics provider) as an integrator, but today advisors, consultants, software companies and even 3PLs lay claim to being a 4PL. The trademark was later abandoned, and the term has become a part of the public domain.

Since the CSCMP definitions get a little fuzzy on 4PL, we would suggest using Accenture’s definition of 4PL, as follows: "A supply chain integrator that assembles and manages the resources, capabilities, and technology of its own organization with those of complementary service providers to deliver a comprehensive supply chain solution.

What does SCMO mean?

SCMO is an acronym. That is a word formed from the initial letters of other words.

SCMO actually means S.C.M.O., which stands for "Supply Chain Management Outsource". The name was chosen as such because we outsource services to all industries involved directly and indirectly with the areas of logistics, transportation, and supply chain management. It therefore felt appropriate to use this name, that does express clearly what we do.

What are SCMO main publications?

SCMO publishes across a variety of platforms, and all of our external content is available via the Publications section of this website. This includes stand-alone articles, white papers, reports, knowledge & insights, and SCMO newsletters in English language. Most access is free, and all content is copyrighted either by SCMO or by their original publisher.

Explore our publications, use and download for free information on the issues that matter to you. You are welcome to share this information with friends and colleagues, who shall benefit from it. You are also welcome to share the links to our library and introduce SCMO website by using the social media icons available at the bottom of this website.