The Competitive Advantage with Kaleidoscope

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The Competitive Advantage with Kaleidoscope

April 6, 2023

Cultivate a Stickier Customer Base Using WMS Add-On Technology

This article first appeared in Logistics Viewpoints, in February 2023. Author: Smital Naik.

It’s hard to imagine a third-party logistics (3PL) business today operating without some form of a warehouse management system (WMS) connecting the digital dots. Technology’s place in supply chain operations is well established and much appreciated, as it helps improve accuracy, visibility, and efficiency from orders coming in and shipments moving out. But can technology do more?

The answer, of course, is yes. This article explores two such ways Open Sky Group’s latest product suite, Kaleidoscope, can offer your operations modern digital tools that can elevate the performance of 3PLs on the way to creating stickier customers. The glue, in this case, pertains to automated billing solutions and interactive customer portals, both of which can be handily configured to communicate with your customers’ various platforms and your existing WMS.

Maximize Revenues and Efficiency with Automated Billing

An automated billing solution benefits both customer and 3PL alike, in that it captures all billable activities performed by the 3PL, while accurately reporting charges at the rates and conditions associated with each customer’s specific negotiated contract.

Instead of manually entering data at set intervals throughout the month – an after-the-fact exercise prone to errors and omissions – an automated solution captures billable activities correctly in real-time, improving overhead utilization, cost control, and revenue leakage at once. 3PLs can quickly assess client-level profitability via accurate cost-to-serve metrics and analytics on demand while creating a verifiable audit trail of events and charges that reduce potential credit settlements and contribute to customer satisfaction.

A modern solution, such as Open Sky Group’s Enhanced Client Billing, can also be configured to accommodate customer idiosyncrasies, such as preferred level of invoice detail, billing cycles, accounting periods, and other unique demands, including multi-lingual and multi-currency requirements. By integrating the solution with customer accounting systems and other billing software, such as timecards, customers can inspect current charges in real time for an accurate snapshot of present expenses leading to improved forecasting.

Lastly, this single source of truth for all parties positively impacts customer relationships. It serves to standardize contracts and billing rules across multiple customers and frees personnel on both sides from added human intervention and disputes. When billing rates and effective dates change, a system alert notifies both parties in advance, eliminating misunderstandings through improved, proactive communications.

Whether deployed on the cloud or on-premise, an automated billing solution will play well in any operating environment, without placing a burden on already overtaxed IT personnel.

Deliver a Superior Customer Experience with an Interactive Self-Service Portal

Likewise, customers and 3PLs can both benefit from an online, interactive customer portal, such as Open Sky Group’s 3PL Client Portal solution. Providing customers self-service access to their inventory data relieves 3PL staff from answering calls regarding inventory on hand for promotions, expiration dates connected to lot numbers and quantities, “available to promise” stock across multiple locations, and more.

Where customers gain the ability to make informed decisions based on improved visibility into their inventory, 3PLs can reduce their cost of service, while simultaneously enhancing productivity and profits.

In today’s hyperactive, fast-moving supply chain marketplace, a system-agnostic, add-on portal capability can also be a real competitive differentiator. 3PL customers consistently testify that the ability to access their proprietary information over any browser-enabled device is a valuable convenience. Not only can they manage their inventory remotely without having to wait on service personnel, but they can also do it more effectively than a 3PL that might otherwise be performing the same tasks using some combination of spreadsheets, email, customer service desks, and hard-copy communications.

The WMS simply mirrors and presents any dedicated, stored data to the customer without interrupting ongoing operations. Meanwhile, customized screen views and reports add value to the experience, making a portal service worth monetizing across the customer base as a net saving against billable service calls involving staff.

Low-Risk Options that Add Value to Your Brand

The good news is that both of these technology tools are already available on the market, out-of-the-box; both have been proven in real-world applications, so as reduce any risk considerations associated with their investment. Any savvy software implementer can provide the necessary integrations and customizations necessary to deliver a robust user experience that meets the needs of your specific organization and customer class.

If your mission is to stand apart as a logistics partner of choice, providing flexible solutions that add value to customers, while also making your organization more productive, profitable, and efficient makes sense.

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Jeremy Hudson

Vice President of Client Services

Jeremy’s focus is on the products and services clients need to stay competitive. Open Sky Group’s mission is to deliver technology-enabled solutions that allow our customers to achieve more while having the flexibility to adapt to change. Jeremy lives the core values and mission by bringing the best experience possible to our clients. He is an essential member of implementation teams, working alongside clients, and encouraging them to use innovation and best practices instead of customizations for success.

Jason Yantiss

Vice President of Client Services

Jason provides leadership to a variety of teams focused on implementation and integration. With 27+ years of experience holding operational and technical management roles in transportation, billing, and warehousing across a vast array of industry verticals, Jason is adept at driving multiple complex projects, understanding customer needs at all levels of the operation and providing viable solutions. Jason’s resume of 150+ implementation projects include Warehouse, Labor, Transportation, Yard Management and multiple AR/AP Freight Pay and Customer Billing systems. 

Eric McPherson

Vice President of Client Services

Mac works to oversee implementation and integration projects. A former Marine officer and military police officer, he brings over 27 years of supply chain experience, including 11 years at Blue Yonder in both delivery and service sales. Mac is a dedicated, team-oriented professional with a background in business management, professional services, customer service, and supply chain technology. His specialties include sales support, supply chain execution systems, project management, fulfillment operations, distribution operations, and GSA contracts.

Shannon Caflisch

Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing

Shannon is responsible for the strategy and management of all sales, business development, and marketing programs. With over 25 years of sales experience and 15 years focused in the supply chain space, Shannon focuses on building strong relationships with clients and partners and strives to deliver the right software solutions to help conquer supply chain challenges. Shannon believes in learning by listening to understand clients’ goals, struggles, and what is important to their business to build lasting, successful relationships.

Alan Prillaman

Senior Vice President of Client Services

As Senior VP of Client Services, Alan oversees all consulting services and account management at Open Sky Group. Possessing over 30 years of combined industry and consulting experience, Alan leverages his unique background in IT, logistics, quality management systems, manufacturing and distribution operations, and facility and strategic account management to provide clients with creative resolutions to complex challenges. His core philosophy and passion are to deliver tangible value for and establish long-term trusted partnerships with our clients.

Mike Noble

Senior Vice President of Technology

As Senior Vice President of Technology, Mike leads Open Sky Group’s Managed Services, Software Services, Infrastructure Services, and Information Technology teams bringing 35+ years of experience in Supply Chain Execution and Information Technology. Mike and his teams ensure we maintain the highest levels of customer service in a secure and reliable environment, constantly reviewing and evaluating new technologies, their appropriateness and applicability so we can safely and securely transact our own business – and help our clients accomplish the same.

Chad Kramlich

CEO

Joining Open Sky Group in 2015, Chad, served as Chief Revenue Officer for three years prior to his appointment to CEO in 2022. With over 25 years of experience delivering results for high-growth software and consulting organizations, Chad is leveraging his background in building efficient and effective implementation teams, establishing high-impact services operations, achieving revenue growth, and deepening executive-level client relations to help propel Open Sky Group into a very successful future.