When your operations team is rushing to hit that end-of-month goal, they will prioritize getting your shipments out the door. Shipper paperwork is the least of their worries. When the bills come due, however, the result can be overcharges, duplicate payments, and worse. Your bottom line suffers—and it could be continuously.
Freight audit and payment (FAP) services help save money, but they also do much, much more to give you new insights into streamlining your business.
1. Better Data and Analytics
Freight audit services deliver high-quality data and analytics insight throughout your business. Your data governance practices and policies directly affect how information is collected, structured, and maintained. Engagement with freight audit services ensures that your company information is integrated with the diversity of carrier data structures so that they’re harmonized into meaningful information. This gives decision-makers accurate information and actionable reporting. When effectively managed, the disparate data can be translated into KPIs and other powerful analytic metrics. Taken together, these can reveal new ways to optimize a business’s tactics and gain insight into new opportunities.
2. Reduced Expenses
Reduced expenses obviously benefit your bottom line. What’s not as obvious is how those benefits compound with gains in other aspects of your business. By starting with the mechanics of freight audit, you’ll not only monitor your shippers for billing inaccuracies, but you’ll also put into place the tools to avoid:
- Unnecessary detention charges, such as delays in the return of a container
- Unexpected accessorial charges for a la carte services, including reweighing
A freight audit partner gives you much tighter control of the entire billing process, and also helps with other aspects of your business that can directly affect profitability. For example, cost allocation and timely accruals can better balance the cost of freight. Tools to view freight costs across the business may reveal ways to maximize trade routes and anticipate future freight costs. Taken together, this kind of information and historical data provides concrete figures to use when negotiating future terms and rates with shippers. This approach puts you in a position to adapt to dramatic changes seen in the logistics sector resulting from volatile supply chains (i.e. COVID-19).
3. Superior Integration
Implementing a platform to support freight audit functions gives a level of integration that makes disparate enterprise resource planning (ERP) and transportation management system (TMS) tools much less problematic. This is particularly important for global organizations where the complexities of multi-national and multi-currency transactions can muddle critical information.
For F100 companies, the challenge is compounded by post-audit compliance mandates and business scale that makes integrations imperative. F100 companies often have relationships with their customers that last years—often outlasting the management roles for individuals. Their systems cannot depend on relationships between managers. Similarly, at their scale, F100 companies routinely move through M&A cycles which require the ability to rapidly integrate new software. Seasonal surges on an F100 scale can also force a retailer to work with every available shipper. The combination makes integrations critical to F100 companies.
Freight audit providers support a superior approach to platform integration, with a goal of better end-to-end visibility, savings, and control, or more simply: See, Save, Control.
4. Time Savings
Strong control over freight audit functions frees up internal resources to focus on your core business and service customers by decreasing times spent on manual processes and research. This is particularly important in businesses where you want to encourage internal promotions and the development of management skills. It gives you a way to avoid structures that leave you dependent on individual contributors and arcane manual processes.
5. Increased Visibility
Management visibility into transportation rates and rate contracts gives company executives the tools they need to plan their business and execute on current initiatives. Any business dependent on physical goods can’t manage their spending without a handle on shipping rates and rate lifecycles. This is especially important in today’s volatile market where the COVID-19 virus has transformed work and transportation patterns overnight.
6. Insightful Analysis
When seeing only your own company’s data, it’s difficult to see the “big picture” of how your logistics affects your industry. Working with a freight audit partner to analyze your freight audit functions gives expert insight into this core aspect of your business. Periodic reviews can summarize spending and—more importantly—present savings opportunities. Industry-wide experience and logistics expertise, combined with software integration gives you access to best practices and stay ahead of competitors.
7. Strong Business Compliance
Whether a business is at the beginning, middle, or the end of a supply chain, managing business compliance is critical, as it can affect both efficiency and the sustainability of business relationships. Compliance with routing guides that specify everything from labeling to delivery instructions can make or break a contract. Without the ability to show how you would ensure compliance, many buyers will refuse to sign a supplier agreement.
For example, porch pirates made product-receipt quality a top priority for one company, so validation tools to ensure compliance was mandatory for any new vendor. Compliance can extend beyond logistics to specify the achievement of sustainability in materials, diversity in hiring, and other goals.
Every business is different and a good freight audit provider has to be able to customize a system to meet the specific requirements of the industry, existing freight vendors, and tools already implemented at a company.
Customization typically includes an array of factors:
- Set up routing rules in compliance with routing guides and other specifications of a company’s partners in a supply chain.
- Establish approval parameters as necessary to validate shipment ownership and exceptions. Shipment ownership can be done using a matching process, account number validation, or origin/destination pair validation—or any combination. Shipments that don’t meet the approved validation are rejected with resolution handled by a claims resolution process.
- Provide pre- and post-payment systems, based on specific carriers and/or regional requirements.
- Detail potential claims processes for carriers and logistics service providers (LSPs) with confirmed acknowledgment and acceptance procedures.
- Create a means to resolve disputes in a timely manner.
- Develop a way to review exceptions to shipper-defined parameters that require approval for payment, such as invoice amount not to exceed a set value by mode, weight limits by mode, or usage of premium services.
Once you select a provider, you’ll be with your freight audit partner for years. You’ll have invested in process customization, platform integrations, and employee training. You’ll want to be sure you pick a provider that can grow with your business.
Trax’s modern, cloud-based approach starts with Total TSM™ (Total Transportation Spend Management) to give its customers an ability to see connections, save money, and control their transportation systems. The approach gives management teams the necessary tools to futureproof the business by staying ahead of both small, time-consuming issues and larger, strategic changes.