This week we look at 5 Habits for Effectively Managing Meetings with your 3rd Party Logistics (3PL) Service Provider.
Whilst meetings may not always be the best use of time in many situations they are however an essential element in the process of successfully managing 3rd party logistics service providers.
As a logistics or supply chain manager you will spend a large proportion of your time facilitating and managing service provider relationships via a series of weekly, monthly and quarterly review meetings.
Adopting the below habits will help to establish an efficient process for preparing, conducting and managing the outcomes from your meetings.
- Create and communicate the agenda prior to meeting
- Ensure the right people are in the room
- Demand that everyone comes prepared
- Stick to the schedule
- Distribute meeting notes and action items ASAP
As an extension of the above principles I have developed “A Guide for Managing 3rd Party Logistics Service Providers using Microsoft Outlook and OneNote“
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1. Create and communicate the agenda prior to the meeting
Every meeting must have a specific purpose and supported by clearly defined agenda that is communicated to all participants in advance of the meeting.
The agenda should set out each topic that is to be addressed , who will lead the discussion and the amount of time that has been allotted to each agenda item.
For non recurring meetings, the agenda should be sent out within 72 to 48 hours of the meeting date.
Any request to include additional agenda items should be submitted by participants prior to the meeting and should also be communicated to all other participants before the meeting.
To keep participants and presenters focused, displaying the agenda on a whiteboard or projecting it on to a screen can be useful.
2. Ensure the right people are in the room
Selecting who should attend will vary depending on the objective of the meeting but careful consideration should be given to ensuring that those attending can contribute to the objective.
Often times it is usually who has NOT been invited to the meeting that is the problem.
In fact , in many cases there are participants that could probably be better utilizing their time elsewhere. I know that I have been in that category on more than one occasion!
There is nothing worse than having to defer a decision to a later date or not having access to the right information or an insight into a topic of discussion because the most relevant person has not been invited.
For example , if a quarterly review agenda includes a discussion on declining operational performance then it is unlikely that the service providers key account manager will have the same understanding of the situation as the operations manager or the customer service representative.
Similarly, if a weekly operational review agenda includes a discussion on the same topic ensuring the key account manager is in attendance is important to ensure that they get a proper understanding of the situation in order to take the appropriate action within the organisation to fix the issue.
3. Demand that everyone comes prepared
In addition to ensuring the right people are in the room it is also imperative that all participants come prepared for the meeting.
This means if a participant has been allocated a task or action from a previous meeting then that task or action has been completed or undertaken as per the assigned schedule.
If the meeting agenda requires a report to be presented then the report needs to have been prepared in the agreed format , the data being presented must be complete and up to date and if commentary is required then this must also have been prepared in advance.
For example , if dispatch timeliness performance is not meeting the agreed KPI the responsible party should have already undertaken the necessary investigation to determine the cause or causes of the failure and more have importantly developed a corrective action plan to address the issue.
4. Stick to the schedule
Meetings are notorious for starting late and going over time.
To be an effective meeting facilitator it is important to stick to the schedule.
Ensure your meetings start and finish on time, you follow the agenda and that the presenters adhere to the time that has been allocated to their agenda item.
Quite often topics that are important, but not specifically related to the existing agenda items will come up – rather than stray from the agenda and potentially going over time, create a “parking lot” for these items.
You can either add them to the agenda for future meetings or it is possible that the topic may require a meeting of its own to be scheduled as part of a separate action item.
5. Distribute meeting notes and action items ASAP
It is not uncommon for participants at the same meeting to have a different interpretation of what was discussed and what the outcomes of the meeting might be.
To reduce this risk there are two steps that can be taken:
- At the end of the meeting the facilitator should do a quick “wrap up” highlighting the key discussion points, repeating any actions arsing from the meeting and confirming the date of the next meeting if applicable.
- As a follow up to the “wrap up” the facilitator should also distribute the meeting notes and actions items within 24 to 48 hours of the meeting taking place.
The meeting notes will document the key discussion points, confirm the agreed action items, the responsible party and the due date for each action item.
This way there is no confusion as to what was discussed and agreed at the meeting.
Below is a sample of how Meeting Notes and Action Items can be distributed via email using Outlook and OneNote to Manage Third Party Logistics Service Provider Relationships.
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