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​Rapid National Upgrades and Rollouts: When to Outsource to a 3PL

By John Cox

National Accounts

Technical Transportation, Inc

Placing high volumes of new product, upgrading existing software, or modifying hardware components for clients can be an expensive undertaking for many manufacturers, especially if the client in question is a large brand with hundreds of locations spread across the country.

In the case of a multitude of installations at various locations, the customer will likely expect the manufacturer to cater to their requirements — which typically entails an aggressive rollout schedule with minimal impact to their day-to-day business.

Most manufacturers, however, don’t have the internal resources to dispatch their own team of field service personnel to handle such a time-compressed, nationwide endeavor without first adding headcount and training new FSEs across the country. New product placements, off-site upgrade requirements, or equipment swap outs complicate this scope even further when introducing specific requirements for equipment handling or where the work must be performed.

Even if a manufacturer did have the personnel at their disposal, nationwide, time-sensitive projects of this magnitude oftentimes tie-down those resources into full-time commitments that fall under non-revenue-generating activities. At the very least, these projects have the potential to take more time away from activities that contribute to organizational metrics – where the utilization of the manufacturer’s personnel actually adds value and profitability. The capacity impact that these projects have on a manufacturer could also compromise their current service levels and overall customer satisfaction within the day-to-day business of their broader client base.

When contemplating whether or not to engage an external partner to support these efforts versus looking to tackle them internally with existing resources, manufacturers should ask themselves:

  • Do I have the right skillsets in-house to perform the job efficiently? As the manufacturer, your knowledge of the product and the customer will be unmatched. However, if you are placing a new product, or you must relocate the existing device, do you have the in-house capability to quickly, efficiently and carefully move the product off premises from your customer’s site and return and install it unharmed? Can you do it in a manner that minimizes downtime at each customer location (possibly after-hours)?
  • Can I quickly source and scale talent and resources at a national level? Can you seamlessly and very quickly scale up your operations without incurring a significant capital investment in the form of more employees? Will your administrative and service personnel be willing and able to perform the work at odd hours? What do you do with the excess employee count once the project is completed?
  • Can I provide local service to my customer? Local access to each of your customer sites is very important as it provides efficiency in two ways. First is the efficiency of lead time. When combined with a nearby technician (or partner team), a local presence that can serve as a forward stocking location, staging area, or service depot offers many advantages, including the ability to serve end-users quickly. Second, and more notable, is cost, because you don’t have to pay for items such as travel charges, and cross-country shipping charges, which can otherwise account for 20-50% of your total project costs.
  • Can I manage all of the moving parts efficiently? Rapid, nationwide projects require multiple vendors to get the job done. Are you able to internally manage all the people, schedules, activities, communications and planning needed to be successful?

If you have questions about how to successfully implement time-sensitive product placements or roll out upgrades to devices in the field for your big-name clients, while keeping your other operations running smoothly and efficiently, then we invite you to click here and contact us today.

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