Today, shippers need to be nimble and must continuously analyze existing processes to optimize and stay competitive. This makes it critical to leverage the right partner to ensure wasteful spend doesn’t go unnoticed. While the vendor universe is large, technology is an increasingly disruptive force in an industry that has historically lacked investment. Only a small subset of parcel and freight audit providers can deliver the solutions to meet these needs and picking the right provider can make all the difference. So, what should you be looking for?
The Freight Audit & Payment (FAP) Provider Checklist
1. Commitment to Technology Technology is the most critical component and is the starting point for all audit, reporting, and analytics capabilities. It should be obvious whether you’re dealing with a true technology company or a legacy “tech” business.
2. Robust Reporting, Analytics, and Optimization Tools Reporting, analytics, and optimization tools are critical and help you leverage your data to identify areas for efficiency gains and process improvement. Providers frequently sell more than they can deliver — so ALWAYS insist on sending actual data to see reporting and analytics relevant to YOUR COMPANY. If they can’t show you your data before you sign up, it’s a bad sign. (See #1)
3. Real-time Visibility To (Normalized) Data In addition to having robust analytics, your data is only useful if it’s normalized and up-to-date. Many FAP vendors take days, if not weeks, to get electronic data loaded, audited, and available for reporting. This should take minutes or hours. (See #1)
4. Carrier Collaboration & Exceptions Management Maintaining and improving carrier relations is critical to a shipper and should be equally important to an FAP provider. The wrong provider can quickly destroy years of goodwill if they manage exceptions poorly and don’t prioritize carrier relations. A best-inclass provider makes life easy for carriers with a dedicated carrier portal to track and manage billing issues and payments. (See #1)
5. Global Single-Vendor Solution Being able to leverage one vendor for all transportation modes and regions has significant benefits outside of vendor management and all-in cost. A single vendor means a one normalized data warehouse allowing you to holistically analyze your entire network and spend. (See #1)
6. Bank-Backed Payment Processing The recent bankruptcy of IPS Worldwide served as a reminder of the risks associated with outsourcing payments to privately-held FAP companies. Payments should only be outsourced to publicly-traded — and highly regulated — financial institutions. Intelligent Audit, in partnership with Triumph Bancorp (Nasdaq: TBK), is one of only three FAP providers with bankbacked payments.
7. Client Success While technology is the backbone of any good FAP provider, technology alone doesn’t make it a SOLUTION. A best-in-class FAP solution combines technology with dedicated strategic account advisors who act as an extension of your team — proactively analyzing your data, identifying issues, and helping you become a better shipper.
Hannah Testani, Chief Operating Officer at Intelligent Audit, has over a decade of experience helping Fortune 500 companies leverage their data to ship smarter.