by Mike Starling

OK, so you have clarified which option you’ll use to pursue the design of your transportation plan. So what should it look like? Well that depends on what level the design will take place:  Strategic? Tactical Operations? Where does it hurt the most? What is causing you the most PAIN? What Value are you receiving for transportation dollars spent? Does the boss hate you? Any of these could be indicators that your current transportation "plan and/or strategy" SUCKS!

In the design of your Transportation Strategy, it is critical that it be developed with top down commitment on the part of the company’s executive management. However, it is equally important to consider the advice of Peter Drucker, who, to paraphrase, said – assign the responsibility to the manager and let him figure out how to best manage what he is responsible for. In this case, the Transportation Manager is that manager and the transportation plan is the mechanism used to convey to both executive management and subordinates the manager’s assessment of “how to best manage what he is responsible for.”


Let’s assume you are creating your Transportation Strategy and Tactics plan for the first time. The initial focus is on development and alignment of a strategy that is in sync with the company’s key strategic goals and objectives which are directly tied to or impacted by achievement of your transportation strategy. Remember, strategic is about where you want to go, not about how to get there.

To understand what your plan should look like implies intimate understanding of the details of your current transportation network, operations, and capabilities and some measurement of how transportation adds to or detracts from achieving the company’s goals and objectives.

If it is unclear exactly how, or how much transportation is contributing to the success of the organization, a baseline supply chain assessment is in order. Transportation is a key factor of any company’s supply chain.

In order to understand the true impact of your current supply chain on operating cash flow (OCF), return on investment (ROI)  and return on assets (ROA) it is prudent to conduct a business strategic assessment that encompasses both the end-to-end supply chain activities AND recent company financial performance history. Typically this type of assessment would review the most recent three years of company financial reports AND a cursory expert review of current supply chain operations and activities. The results of such an assessment establishes and validates a current baseline scenario that can serve as the reference to clearly determine a relevant strategy.


Tactical design needs can be the result of either a) a specific need that flows from a strategic assessment or b) a currently known flawed tactical program or process.

The focus and selection of the right tactic to employ requires assessment for “fit” both operationally and financially; horizontally and vertically within the company; and internally and externally from a cost and service perspective.

Here, use of a tactical project focus works best. Based on information and guidance regarding the nature of the problem, issue, or opportunity and the desired results to be achieved, a documented statement of work (SOW) should be created.

The SOW should include:

-Statement of Purpose for the Tactic to be employed

-Clearly Defined Scope of Tactic Implementation

-Measurable Outcome or Objective(s) to be Achieved

-Proposed Implementation Plan Outline Which Defines/Clarifies

-Specific Actions Required

-Timeline for Implementing/Accomplishing Required Actions

-Individuals Responsible for Actions Required

-Internal Coordination Required

-External Coordination Required

-Manager Responsible for Tactical Execution of Daily Operations

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