Outsourcing Supply Chain Management

Published: June 18, 2024
Author: Lorcan Sheehan

Outsourcing Supply Chain Management: Streamlining Operations for Success

In today’s competitive business landscape, the effectiveness and efficiency of your supply chain processes are crucial for staying ahead of your competitors. One strategy that has been gaining popularity among businesses is the outsourcing of some or all supply chain management processes. When you decide to outsource your supply chain efforts, you are entrusting certain aspects of the supply chain to third-party providers. This allows companies to focus on their core competencies. In this post, we talk about the concept of outsourcing supply chain management, exploring its benefits, challenges, solutions, and best practices.

Table of Contents:

What is Outsourced Supply Chain Management?

Outsourced Supply Chain Management, as the name suggests, involves engaging a third party  to manage and improve all or part of your supply chain operations. This third party can be identified as a warehouse and logistics partner, outsource provider, logistics provider, but is most commonly recognised as a third party logistics provider (3PL), providing a suite of services to meet the needs of growing and established brands. The extent to which a brand will want to outsource their supply chain management processes will be dependant on their inhouse expertise, capital infrastructure decisions, growth requirements and more.  Supply chain services most commonly outsourced include warehousing, distribution, inventory management, and logistics including international customs and trade, which we will look at later. 

Benefits of Outsourcing Supply Chain Management

1. Focus on Core Competencies: By outsourcing some of your supply chain activities to a third party, brands can spend more of their time on core activities such as product development, innovation, marketing, customer service. Having a strong partner manage your non-core activities can drive an increased focus on the future position in the market, ensuring you stay ahead of the competition.

2. Scalability: Outsourcing your supply chain management allows businesses to scale their operations more effectively and efficiently. Businesses will be able to adapt to fluctuations in the market. Third-party providers will be able to quickly adjust resources and capabilities to meet changing business needs. This will help to provide scalability without the need for significant upfront investments.

3. Access to Specialised Expertise: Effective supply chain management requires specialised knowledge and skills in multiple areas across the business.  These include optimising warehousing capabilities, inventory management, the complexities of logistics and customs, amongst others.  Outsourcing these processes to experienced providers can provide brands with the benefit of leveraging extensive international experience and expertise, promoting continuous improvement opportunities for efficiencies across the supply chain. Be sure to check out our Performance Optimisation page too see how we can help

4. Increase in value: Whilst outsourcing does not always lead to monetary savings for a brand, it will certainly work to ensure increased value for their supply chain spend.  The right partner will ensure that costs incurred are known to result in optimised supply chain networks, leveraging of key technologies, optimised warehousing and inventory management, all of which points to more efficient operations and increased value for the business.  

Challenges and Solutions / Risks

1. Communication Challenges: Implementing clear communication channels and processes are key to a successful outsourced partnership. Ensuring regular updates, agreeing key performance indicators and metrics, aligning on communication strategies, and clear responsibility and accountability will work to mitigate risk and ensure success.  By having increased and aligned communication, the business can mitigate against undue delays, errors and misunderstanding with their outsourcing partner. 

2. Choosing the Wrong Partner: Choosing the right partner is key to success.  By default, therefore, a poor choice of partner will not provide the service, quality, reliability, and efficiencies that your business requires.  Selecting the wrong partner can ultimately lead to damage to your business’ reputation.  By accurately scoping your needs, and completing a thorough assessment of potential partners, you can work to ensure your chosen provide can meet your needs.  Setting clear expectations, aligned with robust contract management will help to mitigate against this risk. Be sure to check out our Outsource Process Management page to see how we can help support your supply chain outsource needs.

3. Perceived loss of Control: Entrusting critical supply chain functions to external parties may raise concerns about the potential for loss of control over operations and / or operational decision-making.  Through the establishment of strong governance structures and fostering collaborative relationships, businesses can address such concerns whilst ensuring continued accountability and alignment with business objectives.

Best Practices for building the right Supply Chain Outsourcing Partnership

  1. Vendor Selection: When choosing an outsourcing partner be sure to conduct comprehensive evaluations. Some factors to consider are:
    – Supply chain operational experience, and current industries and brands supported
    – Operational and technical capabilities
    – Cultural Fit with your brand will be key to success

– Their reputation in the market is important to safeguard your own brands’ reputation

Performing due diligence, such as site visits, client references, and performance reviews, are vital for ensuring compatibility and reliability.

2. Contract Management: Develop clear and detailed agreement with your new provider, ensuring that all scope of work and contractual documentation, which is reviewed with your legal team, includes the following:
– Clear expectations, service levels, operational requirements and deliverables outlined in a service scoping document
– Responsibilities of both parties, and indeed any additional parties to the agreement
– Limitations, IP requirements, Privacy and all other legal aspects to the agreement
– Dispute Resolution Mechanisms

Having a review and renewal process in place will provide both parties with the confidence that this agreement is intended to last, whilst also allowing for the handling of unforeseen circumstances.

3. Build Collaborative Relationships: As with any partnership, your business’ relationship with a warehouse and logistics partner, or a 3PL or similar will require a stable, collaborative partnership approach to the relationship.  This arrangement must be beneficial to both organisations so building an open and transparent line of communication between yourself and your new partner is key to the success of your new outsourced supply chain relationship.  Maintaining regularly reviews and continued building of collaboration dynamics through feedback and performance evaluations, will provide for a sustained relationship into the future.

What supply chain processes to outsource? 

Every business is different, and the needs of every business will differ such that your outsource requirements need to be considered against core competencies and the objectives of your business.  In reviewing the needs of the business, it is important to assess those areas under consideration for outsourcing against the objectives of the business.  Working with brands across multiple industries, there is a lot of commonality in outsourcing needs, and the most frequently outsourced functions include;

  • Transportation and Logistics Management
  • Warehousing and Distribution
  • Inventory Management
  • Supplier Management
  • Supply Chain Planning 
  • Customs Compliance

One of the challenges in outsourcing is understanding the approach that your specific business should take, and what can work best for your business. 

How can PerformanSC help?

PerformanSC provide a suite of services to support brands in reviewing and analysing their current supply chain, respecting future strategic and operational plans, considering current and future market channels, towards the right approach to take for your business.  Our Operations Research (OR) team provide expertise, utilising a broad suite of tools, complimented by inhouse developed and proprietary models and tools, across each of these areas.  

Transportation Routing and Optimisation; identifying the optimal distribution route for your product, from your preferred locations to your customers, through a network evaluation process, providing unique and targeted solutions.

Warehouse Layout and Design; engaging expertise in reviewing warehouse operations and capacity, storage, and marshalling needs, whilst providing proposed layout and racking configurations that are sympathetic to the efficient flow of materials in your site.

Inventory Optimisation; analysing historical demand to segment products by demand behaviour, while identifying the most appropriate planning models, and identifying applicable statistical planning methods into the replenishment process to optimise your inventory availability and service levels.

Customs and Trade Compliance; educating your team on the relevant trade and customs requirements for your business and providing tariff impact assessment and mitigation strategies to manage and adapt to the disruptive impact of global tariff changes. 


Outsourcing your supply chain operations or optimising your warehousing and distribution networks and operations can be challenging.  Choosing the right partner requires careful consideration, as it has to be right for your business.  Implementing best practices and addressing common challenges can be difficult when you may not have the internal expertise.  

PerformanSC can provide you with advice and support throughout your supply chain optimisation journey.  

For further insights into supply chain management strategies and industry trends, explore our related blog posts and articles or get in touch with us today.

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