Book Review: International Logistics And Supply Chain Outsourcing

International Logistics And Supply Chain Outsourcing:  From Local To Global, by Alan Rushton and Steve Walker

In many ways, this book is somewhat obsolete.  Some of the companies that the book has an interest in, like Toys-R-Us, are bankrupt.  It has been a long time since UPS has been able to successfully pivot itself as a logistics company in the view of the wider public, and I have not heard about 4th party logistics ever.  That said, this book has in general at least some information about the mindset and approaches of businesses in seeking to do what they do well and save costs and gain economies of scale in matters of logistics in which they may not consider themselves to do as well, and the authors do a very good job in demonstrating the problems of trust and communication that often hinder such efforts from being as successful as they would otherwise be.  This sort of thing is a problem I have noticed often and it was intriguing to see that even in matters of logistics trust and communication are problems that are at the bottom of most disagreements over the success of outsourcing efforts.  Sadly, when we outsource things that we do not do well we still need to be able to trust the people we delegate such tasks to and communicate with them as well.

This book of almost 400 pages is divided into 9 large chapters.  The book begins with a preface, introduction, and background to the subject of outsourcing logistics.  After that there is a discussion about the outsourcing market with a focus on the global market and its drivers (1).  There is then a detailed instruction of regional infrastructures including Europe, the Middle East and Africa, the Americas, and the Asia-Pacific region (2).  After that the authors look at outsourcing operations and services (3) and then discuss the major providers of logistics services in various regions (4) and the key business drivers as well as the context of outsourcing for many companies (5).  There is a discussion of current issues and influences that are both external and internal (6) and a discussion of the general approach, detailed steps, and contracts involved in selecting contractors for outsourcing of logistics (7).  Finally, the authors discuss a very detailed breakdown of outsourcing management in order to ensure that the contractor and firm maintain a good working relationship as well as the provision of detailed metrics and KPIs (8) as well as the issue of 4th party logistics and some speculations on the future of the field (9), after which the book ends with abbreviations, references, and an index.

Overall, this book does a good job at giving the details of logistics outsourcing around the world and in a variety of firms.  A business looking to outsource such tasks will be well informed upon reading this book about the sorts of companies that operate in their segment and the necessary tasks that need to be done in order for an outsourcing effort to be successful, including a certain amount of patience for the original bumpiness of change and a recognition of the need to align the incentives for both one’s own firm and contractors so that costs are kept low and service is kept high and everyone is content with the business relationship going forward for hopefully a long time.  If this book is not entirely up-to-date with the state of logistics in the contemporary world, this is the sort of work that has an approach that contains timeless concerns when dealing with logistics that are still well worth reading and appreciate.  I imagine this book has a more updated version that would still be well worth reading and learning from even today.

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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