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5 Ways Automating Back-Office Processes Make 3PLs & Brokers More Productive & Profitable

Josh Asbury, HubTran’s VP of 3PL and Broker, wrote this article for MercuryGate. MercuryGate is a tremendous TMS and a wonderful partner for HubTran.


Few advancements have the potential to increase productivity and profitability for 3PLs and freight brokers like automating repeatable, error-prone back-office processes. Automating back-office processes allows your team to focus on securing more customers, while proactively managing strategic issues rather than trying to manage post-fulfillment processes, hope the invoicing matches, and ensure all contracts are fulfilled. Consider these top five ways automating back-office processes can generate excellent gains for your company.

1.Automation Streamlines Freight Settlement And Payment Processing

After delivery, automating back-office processes holds an additional opportunity to increase productivity through automation in freight settlement. Automated freight settlement processes that rely on real-time auditing analytics validate invoice data, authorize payment for invoices upon verification of proof of delivery, initiate ACH transfers, and generate receipts to applicable companies. This reduces the time delay in receiving or making payments within the supply chain—building stronger, more reliable, and more profitable 3PL-broker-carrier-shipper alliances.

2. Intuitive, Automated Auditing Catches Errors Prior To Payment

Auditing is among the most innovative ways for squeezing efficiency from automated back-office processes. Automated audits use machine learning and advanced analytics to identify, correct, chargeback, or otherwise act upon inaccurate invoices or incomplete shipping documentation. As a result, companies can recapture lost freight costs while decreasing the time required to settle invoices.

3. Automating Back-Office Processes Reduces Check Call Labor Costs

Robotic process automation (RPA) is a paragon of how automated back-office processes can translate into direct savings. As reported by Russ Gould of Inbound Logistics, “RPA mimics the actions of people, and can automatically collect and input data between portals, websites, internal applications, and bank systems. For example, many 3PL providers are working to eliminate the manual processes that draw data from various websites and use it to support pricing strategies.” RPA effectively creates automation within the customer service side of a 3PL or broker. It can handle requests for all processes, not just quoting. For instance, RPA can automate the entire Factor load verification process — resulting in dramatic time savings for both brokers and factors.

4. Self-Optimizing Routing And Automation In Rating Processes Secure More Bookings And Speed Quoting

Self-optimizing systems are another opportunity for automating back-office processes to generate stronger productivity within 3PLs and brokers. Instead of trying to figure out which blend of carriers and modes will offer the lowest landed cost for customers, automated systems, including artificial intelligence, intuitively sort through all available carriers. They assess the carrier bookings, contracts, and other details to generate an accurate quote. Meanwhile, these ongoing processes applied across the scale of a supply chain network create a living, evolving freight rate indices, allowing users to compare quotes to industry averages by trade lane, mode, carrier, and more. The quote is seamlessly transferred into the bill of lading upon acceptance of the quote by the customer, keeping all paperwork together, and reducing issues.

5. Centralized Communications Enable Flexibility And Collaboration

Automation in communications—instantaneously notifying users of changes to shipment status and smart tagging features—augments the value of automating back-office processes by reducing miscommunications. Keeping all information within the same platform helps to keep everyone working together and enables continuous improvement. In turn, centralized communications blend seamlessly with document management capabilities to drive risk into retreat. It’s all part of the best-in-class supply chain control within the MercuryGate platform.

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