Today’s supply chain software hasn’t come close to meeting your needs—we are fixing that.
For years, technology companies have been developing transportation management system (TMS) applications designed to streamline global trade. While this push for innovation has ushered in the supply chain digital revolution by creating efficiencies, transparency, and cost savings, international shippers like you continue to struggle with the same old challenges because these digital tools simply don’t equip you for today’s supply chain complexities.
We at 3rdwave have spent the past 30 years analyzing the international supply chain and its underlying data to understand your challenges and architect a unique approach and a robust single platform that continues to evolve and address all your trade planning, transportation, execution, and compliance needs. Here’s the blueprint that drives everything we do.
For starters, here’s why most TMS technology falls short:
While many technology companies have tried to solve (or are working on solving) each of these problems, all four need to be solved together for meaningful progress to occur.
People like to say that everyone’s supply chain is different. People that say that don’t have the right level of analysis. International supply chains are, in fact, very well defined with little variability. It is made up of carriers, forwarders, customs brokers, and lots of regulation that changes very slowly.
So what makes things complicated? The complication comes from how your business processes interact with the supply chain. When there is a delay in an ETA, how do you inform your organization? If a product will be delayed, who needs to know? What steps need to be taken? You need to understand this is not supply chain complexity; rather, it’s business interaction complexity.
What Shippers need for success in the international supply chain has been poorly articulated, resulting in even worse results—which is why we are driven to rectify this problem.
OUR MISSION: Enabling the most predictable, reliable, and responsive international supply chain.
A predictable supply chain requires knowing where your shipments and products should be at any given time, how long things should take, and how much they should cost. Predictability demands that you know the desired outcome ahead of time (a plan) so that you know when things are not proceeding so you can act accordingly.
Reliability implies trust in the system. Trust that you and other stakeholders will reliably execute according to the plan. Repeatedly and consistently. And that the system can address the variability of international supply chains.
We all know that international supply chains are constantly in flux, which creates an environment where you can’t assume things will happen according to plan. Being responsive is predicated on early detection of anomalies and reacting to optimize the outcome.
What companies ultimately want is control. When the supply chain is under control, everyone knows what should happen, they have confidence that it will happen, and equally importantly, when things don’t go according to plan, they are certain that they will be notified and have the ability to adjust.
Our mission sets the parameters for what follows: Predictability requires a plan; reliability requires that the system be consistent and repeatable; and responsiveness requires the need for early detection and the constant monitoring of each shipment according to a detailed execution plan. When we get this right, we can create the most powerful platform in the market that is intelligent, outcomes-focused, and, if we are really good, fun to use.
For international shippers, every stakeholder cares about the outcomes of the supply chain, regardless of whether they are internal team members or external stakeholders. But they each care about something a little different, or at least from a different perspective. That means you need to be sensitive to the dimensions that are important to them. For instance, your finance team probably cares about understanding the cost implications, while your sales team and customers care about when they will receive their products. Satisfying these stakeholders requires that you can see and understand the dimensions and perspectives that are important to them.
What separates the 3rdwave platform from competitors is its unparalleled planning functionalities. No one would argue that the finance team shouldn’t have a budget. So why don’t international supply chain and transportation folks have a similar plan? Plans empower you to predict a desirable outcome, measure as things are happening, and adjust.
Plan → Measure → Adjust
Measuring is easy. But without a plan, there is no way to know if your measurement is good or bad, which means you can’t meaningfully adjust.
A plan for international supply chains is the critical missing piece for most shippers.
Most stakeholders care about dimensions that fall into one of three categories:
Each dimension can be planned, and as execution proceeds, it will be estimated and then confirmed as an actual. In this manner, performance and predictions can be made evident.
Here’s a little secret: the way that supply chain software needs to be oriented to satisfy shippers and BCOs is around the product. Organizing around the product is the only way that you can make sure that location, cost, and time reconcile with one to the other and ensure that you will be able to transform data into different perspectives in a controlled way.
Reliability means you can trust the system. It means results can be repeated. It means variability can be appropriately understood. Reliability requires that humans can transparently understand the system and its measurement to make appropriate decisions to improve.
(To be clear, we are using the word “measurement” as opposed to “tracking,” as tracking is insufficient to describe the breadth of information being measured. Tracking typically refers to the location or status of a shipment. But we also care about costs. And we care about performance. All of these need to be measured.)
Your ERP is not architected for international trade. It suffers from one intractable problem: It doesn’t understand what a shipment is. Almost all of the problems in the global trade environment are a function of this architecture problem at the ERP. So, if you want to solve problems in international trade, you need a system that understands shipments.
When it is clear what needs to be measured, and you have designed and architected to reflect this need, measurement is easy. The trick is getting the architecture right and then creating the environment for the measurements to take place consistently so that they take place on the appropriate cadence to accomplish the stated goals.
Everyone uses supply chain partners to execute their shipments—forwarders, carriers, brokers, stuffers or consolidators, vendors, drayman, and so much more. Each one of these actors could have the information that you need. And each of them has their own way of providing that information. We need to be able to connect with and validate the datasets however they are delivered.
In addition to being able to measure, reliability requires that the system be intelligent. It needs to assess when things are not running as expected and then should help the operator recover. This requires an understanding of the environment. An ocean move is different from a drayage move. Moves need to be related to the right freight contracts. Freight invoices must be related to both the shipment execution and the freight invoice. And all of it needs to be reconciled.
Everything needs to be well understood, controlled, and accounted for.
This requires an infrastructure that is both holistic in consideration and comprehensive in execution, and applications that are highly attuned to the user's needs.
At 3rdwave, we have learned these lessons over decades spent in the trenches, working with some of the best practitioners in the industry. As we like to say at 3rdwave: there is nothing artificial about 3rdwave’s intelligence.
If you really want your supply chain to be under control, everything needs to be understood, seen, and monitored. That means all the data points from various documents and dimensions must be explicit and seen.
Seeing + Understanding + Action = Control
Services that centralize carrier updates are being sold today as “visibility.” But it isn’t beneficial to shippers. Visibility is an outcome achieved when you can truly see what is important. Gaining access to centralized carrier updates for hundreds or thousands of shipments creates noise. Visibility is created when you can filter out the noise for the few that are important to you.
Understanding is what happens when you take information and place it into a useful framework that allows you to systematically understand the world. Having the right framework is imperative. It requires robust architecture and a well-thought-out design objective. It’s easy to get the framework wrong. But we have refined it over six generations of software.
The actions that need to be supported are dependent on which step in the supply chain process you are in, and what is going on at any point in time. But typically, the points in the supply chain where you can make a difference are well understood, and the actions are well defined.
The challenges and intricacies of international trade for Shippers are vast and multifaceted. While many have attempted to address these issues, we've identified four fundamental areas that must be tackled in unison: planning capability, standardizing transactional data, integrating product and shipment data, and completing data sets. These elements form the foundation of a successful international supply chain.
Our mission at 3rdwave is to empower a predictable, reliable, and responsive international supply chain. The key to achieving this lies in careful planning, robust architecture, and intelligent systems. Predictability, reliability, and responsiveness are the pillars that collectively lead to control, a coveted state where everyone knows what to expect, has confidence in execution, and can respond effectively when things deviate from the plan.
Through our platform, designed with international shippers in mind, we aim to accommodate the diverse perspectives and priorities of all stakeholders in the supply chain. We advocate for planning as a crucial step, a fundamental framework for predicting, measuring, and adjusting as needed.
In essence, our journey in this field has taught us that a controlled international supply chain hinges on seeing, understanding, and acting. To see everything, we must filter out the noise and focus on the critical information. Understanding involves framing information within a structured framework, and our experience has led to the development of refined solutions over six generations of software.
The actions to be supported vary depending on the supply chain process and the specific circumstances at any given time. We acknowledge that each step in the supply chain offers opportunities for intervention and improvement.
Ultimately, our mission is not just a goal; it is a commitment to an ongoing journey to reshape and optimize the international supply chain, one that prioritizes predictability, reliability, and responsiveness. Through careful planning, sound architecture, and intelligent systems, we endeavor to make the international supply chain not only more effective but also an environment that's a pleasure to work within.
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