10 Good Procurement Habits for Traffic Managers

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Procurement for Traffic Managers

Amid supply chain disruptions, many traffic managers face an uphill battle in planning, procuring, and executing the transportation of freight from one location to another. 

The logistics of managing numerous shipments and transportation modalities — either domestically or internationally — can quickly get off track without the prioritization of good procurement habits. 

However, that can be easier said than done. In this article, we’ll explore 10 good procurement habits for traffic managers to keep shipments on track, expenses low, and stress levels manageable!

Create well-defined procurement processes

Strategically planning and managing the everyday logistics of transporting and storing goods and materials is the core function of a traffic manager’s role.  

And yet, it’s hard to ensure this runs smoothly — taking into account multiple suppliers, retailers, manufacturers, and customers — without the proper processes in place. 

This is why prioritizing creating (and sticking to) well-defined procurement processes is our number one recommended habit for traffic managers. 

Once existing operational processes have been identified, it becomes possible to amend and update these on an ongoing basis for improved efficiency. To ensure these processes are standardized, it may be helpful to put each element of the procurement process into an operational flowchart with clearly defined steps and sub-steps. 

Centralize data for easy access and analysis

Data is only as useful as the information we’re able to gather from it, and that’s pretty tough to do when it’s disparate or hard to access. 

A centralized system for storing all your procurement information, such as contracts, processes, and routes, can be invaluable in keeping you and your team on track. In addition, it can be a helpful way for you to become attuned to patterns in your workflow, or to identify areas for improvement. 

While cloud-based management systems are becoming increasingly popular in the age of digitization, depending on your budget a centralized system could be as simple as keeping all your files easily accessible to the members of your team who need to access them. Online storage systems such as OneDrive and GoogleDrive make this easy to do, and remove the issue of data being stored in one fixed geographical location. 

If you’re looking for a more sophisticated solution, investing in supply chain management software can provide a significant value-add to your procurement team and wider business. 

Build strong relationships with reliable suppliers

Your suppliers are the backbone of your procurement strategy, and creating reliable and lasting relationships with high-quality suppliers is a great habit to get into from day one. 

This might involve liaising with suppliers to receive and share updates, negotiating or renegotiating rates or contracts, or otherwise working to improve communication with the other businesses you partner with.

As you source new quality suppliers or assess your existing suppliers for ongoing suitability, you may want to invest time in checking and validating certifications, evaluating financial stability, assessing geographical locations, thoroughly reviewing product information, establishing their ability to scale as needed, and requesting sustainability information. Clarifying these key points early on can help to avoid issues down the road, and also establishes a transparent and committed relationship from the get-go. 

All of this requires excellent interpersonal skills and the ability to distill and explain key information easily. Working on these key relationships early on has the potential to benefit your procurement processes in the long run.

Prioritize compliance

While it might not be the most fascinating part of the job for many, compliance is an essential element of logistics management

Ensuring you’re compliant with all regional, national, and global supply chain and transportation legislation is crucial — whether it relates to health & safety, sustainability commitments, working conditions, data protection, or imports and exports. 

Prioritizing compliance involves staying on top of any existing or new rules and regulations and being sure that your business is aware and abiding by these. Creating standardized processes (as we mentioned in the first habit) can be a great way to keep on track of all the compliance checks and balances that are a part of your workflow.

Automate processes to increase efficiency 

Increasingly, supply chains are turning to automation to reduce the time spent on repetitive manual processes. 

Procurement is no exception, and making use of artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms or other automation strategies — which don’t need to be as complicated as they sound! — can be a great way to save time and reduce the effects of human error. 

Digitizing and automating tasks such as invoicing, purchase requests, supplier sourcing, and authorizations is a procurement habit that’s quickly becoming a trend. Why? Well, automation brings with it a range of benefits, such as:

  • Cutting costs
  • Minimizing risk
  • Reducing bottlenecks
  • Saving employee time 
  • Optimizing processes
Procurement Habits for Traffic Managers
Photo by Andy Li on Unsplash

Leverage technological solutions 

As ongoing digitization continues, and as companies look for innovative ways to avoid risk and maintain resilience amid supply chain disruptions, leveraging technological solutions can be a valuable habit to adopt. 

Automating tasks, as we mentioned above, is one easy way to get started. Here are a few more suggestions:

  • Make use of smart sensors made possible by the Internet of Things (IoT) for real-time tracking of shipments.
  • Invest in blockchain technology to enable secure financial transactions and reduce risk.
  • Harness the power of artificial intelligence for enhanced data analytics. 
  • Use virtual reality technologies to safely recreate and test scenarios.
  • Gain real-time visibility through centralized, cloud-based solutions.

Minimize risk with contingency planning 

If the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us one lesson, it’s to expect the unexpected. Widespread supply disruption has led to an increased emphasis on fostering resilient supply chains that can withstand sudden change.

One way to minimize the risk of disruption is through contingency planning, and since we never know when the disruption will occur, this is a habit that’s best implemented before you think you need to. 

What might this look like? Some ideas might include: 

  • Supply chain mapping to identify vulnerabilities
  • Duplicating or creating a contingency plan for high-risk suppliers or locations
  • Diversifying your suppliers
  • Opting for suppliers who are closer to your business or your target market  
  • Adding additional capacity for unexpected demand

Optimize transportation to be efficient, cost-effective, and sustainable

Not sure you need a whole truckload or a whole container for your shipment? 

Making use of less-than-truckload (LTL) shipping can be a cost-effective way of reducing inefficiency and minimizing transportation waste. 

Not only does sharing freight space help to cut costs and increase efficiency, but it’s also a responsible way of prioritizing environmental sustainability as a traffic manager. Maximizing the capacity of a given vehicle ensures that the journey (including the fuel used, the driver’s time and effort, and the time it takes to make the trip) is fully utilized. Over time, these practices can add up and contribute to a reduction in carbon emissions. 

Practice transparency across all operations

Whether you’re communicating with your team, external suppliers, stakeholders, or a customer, transparency is a fantastic quality — and habit — to work on. 

Why? Well, with 66% of surveyed business leaders stating that a lack of transparency in their operations posed a risk to their business, that seems like a question worth asking. 

Transparency has been linked to three key benefits: cost savings, better decision-making, and the maintenance of ethical practices. 

What does this mean in practice? Most likely, a continued move away from siloed information and toward centralized data sharing, clear communication around requirements and updates, and a commitment to disclosure when necessary. 

Stay up to date on local and national supply chain trends

The last good procurement habit for traffic managers that we’ll mention here is to make it a part of your routine to stay up to date on local and national industry trends. 

Not only is this good practice in general, but as the industry transforms itself through digital solutions, and the world continues to experience dramatic economic and political shifts, staying up to date becomes more important than ever. 

You can do this by following national or international news, or following high-quality blogs and podcasts focusing on the factors affecting global logistics. 

Traffic managers: Get into good habits with next-level logistics solutions from Jansson

Navigating supply chain procurement may call on you to adopt a whole range of habits, but going it alone doesn’t need to be one of them. 

Here at Jansson, we provide personal, high-quality logistics and transportation support across the United States, Canada, and Mexico. Whether you’re looking for a basic flatbed shipment, cross-country intermodal transportation, or don’t know quite what it is you need, we’re here to help. 

For a free quote or to find out more about what we offer, reach out to Jansson today

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