Customer expectations and competition have put tremendous pressure on supply chains across industries. Supply chain has transformed from just a cost center to a strategic asset for many organizations.

You may already know what your biggest supply chain problems are or you’re still trying to figure it out. In either case, to develop a well thought out case for improvement and possibly outsourcing, you need to ask the right questions.

To determine what aspects of your transportation, distribution and fulfillment network to outsource, modify, or optimize starts with the following types of questions:

1. What are the bottlenecks, problems, or cost inefficiencies within our supply chain? Where are they coming from?

2. In what areas do we have low scorecards with our customers, vendors, or their customers?

3. Where do our supply chain and logistics needs exceed our capabilities in terms of infrastructure, people, or technologies?

4. How have changes in the business climate or industry affected our flexibility or profitability? Think in terms of customer expectations, labor, physical assets, sourcing, or shipping patterns.

5. How can we manage the risks associated with outsourcing such as turning over our control and customer relationships to an outside provider?

6. How do we manage the company culture to effect change within our supply chain operations?

Once you have narrowed down the areas to focus on for improvement and outsourcing consideration, your next step is to develop a business case.

Your business case will accomplish two main objectives:

1. It will define the problem and explain what is at stake if a solution is not found.

2. How your proposed solution to outsource or improve a process will solve the problem.

Remember, this step is critical to gain the support of your internal stakeholders.