The client is a full service Logistics Service Provider (LSP) specializing in domestic and international freight forwarding, warehouse operations, and 3PL. They manage and operate local warehouses throughout Texas and handle all shipping needs, as well as storage and fulfillment services for their clients.
The LSP’s 3PL business is growing fast and their needs around automation and efficiency is quickly changing. Their existing software tools are separate by departments and specialized for each function. They use a TMS system called CSA WorldTrak and AccountTrak for their freight services, and a WMS system, 3PL Central for their warehousing operation. All billing is done out of the TMS system. Each system is good for their individual needs and functionality.
The core challenge is that the two systems are not connected. This causes two big problems: 1) When they do their billing for any of the warehouse operation, the data is manually reported out of 3PL Central via a spreadsheet and keyed in to the CSA WorldTrak software. Double entry, risk of errors, and valuable time spend. 2) In addition, because the data is in two system they have to run reports out of each software system to get the full picture of their freight transactions.
The two separate systems was less of an issue when they were a smaller operation, but now with growth and a business strategy of adding new warehouse locations, the individual systems is becoming a bigger problem. Furthermore, the client does billing monthly via a manual reporting tools. There’s a need to not only automate this process, but also to make it more frequent to improve cash-flow.
How Chain.io helped
The Chain.io team began helping the LSP by carefully assessing and understanding the current billing process between their warehouse operation and their TMS system. By assigning a Chain.io integration project lead with deep industry experience, Chain.io was able to tailor the solution to avoid a one-size-fits-all solution that could have failed to meet the precise requirements.
After assessing the environment, Chain.io implemented a fully managed integration solution that involved both business process and systems improvements. First, the team mapped a single pipe from 3PL Central to the Chain.io Platform with all the needed accounting and shipping data. Second the team mapped the billing data from the Chain.io platform to the CSA Account-Trak accounting system. The two individual integrations provided an automated data transfer that allowed for seamless billing without double entry. This provided the following benefits:
- The data integration with 3PL Central allowed to move to more frequent billing cycle improving efficiency and cash-flow.
- Having a fully integrated solution has made adding new warehouse locations possible without adding more manual data entry, as well as remaining data oversight of all locations.
- The Chain.io Platform proactively detects missing file feeds. This eliminated the need for operations to manually review logs or wait for facility staff to notify them that files had gone missing.
- The Chain.io Platform automatically reviews each file feed for bad or irregular data and holds the transmission. This change provides a chance to review billing data before invoices are created.
- Future software additions: In the near future the client is planning on integrating their CRM system with accounting and 3PL Central as well. By using the Chain.io Platform they are looking at just one more connection.
After implementing the data integration between 3PL Central and accounting, the LSP is already looking to add another software piece to the mix, their CRM system. They would like customer information to be available between all three systems. By utilizing the Chain.io Platform they are looking to add just another connection, not multiple one-to-one software integrations. Additions and modifications does no longer mean costly rewrites.
By combining industry expertise, careful project management, and advanced technology, Chain.io delivered the following results for the LSP:
- Moved their billing cycle from monthly to weekly improving cash-flow.
- Reduced manual billing by 6 hours per week for each warehouse location.
- A 30% reduction on data error due to eliminating double entry, as well as data monitoring
- Enabled easier onboarding of new warehouse locations.
- Prepared for faster and more economical development on future software integrations, like CRM, Trucking, CBS systems, and even other WMS systems.