Beyond the Freight Bill Audit
As freight bill audit and payment expands to transportation spend management, these leading companies deploy advanced technology tools and offer services that transcend traditional freight audit and payment.
The niche discipline of freight bill audit and payment (FBAP) is becoming less, well, niche-y. It’s expanding to help shippers more effectively manage supply chain and transportation costs.
Even as it grows, the FBAP industry remains resilient, providing technology, software, and service offerings that transcend traditional freight audit and payment, says Keith Snavely, senior vice president, global sales with nVision Global Technology Solutions. “As shippers are challenged to do more with less, freight audit providers are helping them reduce supply chain costs,” he adds.
The importance of these efforts has become more apparent over the past few years. “The supply chain is of significant interest because there is so much expense typically associated with it,” says Jeff Carlson, vice president of global sales and marketing with Cass Information Systems. Freight bill audit and payment companies can play a significant role in helping to rein in these costs.
As they do, some FBAP companies are transitioning to the term “transportation spend management.”
“We don’t think the term ‘freight bill audit and payment’ will go away, but it’s a myopic name for the solution, when there’s so much more to it, especially the data,” says Melia Cothran, director of marketing, also with Cass.
The value of the data assembled during freight audits can be seen in clients’ growing requirements for greater data analysis and business intelligence that’s reported in real time, often through tools like dashboards and using key performance indicators, or KPIs, says Allan J. Miner, chief executive officer with CT Logistics.
The desire for data and analysis also reflects companies’ need not only for savings—which remains key—but for the insight that will help them take intelligent correction action, says Vikki L. Van Vliet, senior vice president of sales and marketing with Trans Audit.
Another shift is the growing focus on capabilities that cross national boundaries. “Over the past year, we’ve seen more shippers looking for services that are global in nature,” Van Vliet says.
Demand for a comprehensive logistics solutions provider is also increasing, says Elizabeth Nolan, vice president of contracts and compliance, CTSI-Global.
Shippers are looking for providers that integrate data, the user experience, and visibility within a single platform.
Supply chain challenges have shifted over the past few years from port congestion and material shortages to increased costs and staff shortages. With so many factors at play, having a logistics partner that can reduce transportation costs and increase visibility in the supply chain is vital.
FBAP Providers Meet a Changing World
Since 2020, the sudden increase in direct-to-consumer shipments is continuing to drive growth in parcel deliveries. Partnering with a freight bill audit firm that offers parcel management is crucial to streamlining processes, Nolan says.
The cost of financing in today’s environment of rising interest rates, inflation, and fears of recession is of concern for all parties in the supply chain.
“It could have repercussions in our industry by impacting contract terms between shippers and carriers,” says Scott Burglechner, senior vice president and head of freight payment product management with U.S. Bank.
Additionally, the void created by the retirements of many experienced traffic and transportation managers has left a knowledge gap in many companies, Miner says. The upside for freight audit providers is that many of these companies will need their services.
As the logistics and supply chain functions change, so do FBAP providers. The importance of technology continues to grow.
This includes emerging technology like artificial intelligence (AI). “Freight bill providers and their clients have to remain diligent and aware of how AI can impact the market,” says Peter Kerwin, head of audit operations with Trans Audit. “AI is taking over everything we do.”
The growing role of technology is also prompting structural changes. A number of acquisitions occurred in 2022, resulting in a consolidation of service providers.
“The majority of FBAP services are now performed in association with other transportation or financial technology (fintech) offerings,” says Scott Matthews, president, freight audit and payment, AFS Logistics.
Other changes include the bankruptcy of Yellow Corporation and the new contract reached between UPS and its drivers. “In the short term, these might offer an opportunity for slightly more attractive parcel rates, as other carriers try to increase their business,” says Nick Fisher, director of sales and partnerships with ARTC Logistics. Within a year, however, it’s likely rates will increase again.
The Future of the FBAP Sector
Looking ahead, it’s probable the number of freight bill providers will continue to shrink. Some providers that struggle to find the resources needed to invest in technology probably will leave the industry, whether by selling themselves off to another company or simply closing their doors, Carlson says. Conversely, the large ones likely will get larger.
There has also been considerable activity around sustainability and how advanced analytics solutions that leverage FBAP data can support reporting and inform decision-making related to climate impacts, Burglechner says.
Even as the FBAP industry continues to consolidate, both providers and clients will look for technology and services that go beyond simply processing and paying invoices, to encompass strategies that help shippers better manage their transportation spend, Snavely says.
The companies featured here are leading this change.
A3 Freight Payment: Customized Transportation Spend Management Delivers Superior Returns
A3 Freight Payment, which recently was recognized as one of the Inc. 500 Fastest Growing Companies, focuses on delivering value to its clients through customized, quality spend management.
“Freight bill audit and payment has become a tactical function,” says Craig Cameron, VP of sales and marketing. “A3 adds value for clients by pursuing savings and identifying spend management opportunities from within their supply chains,” he adds.
To that end, A3’s experienced team conducts in-depth analyses of clients’ freight invoices to help them reduce expenses and increase efficiency. They evaluate routes, freight class, modes, and carriers, among other factors.
Their comprehensive analyses provide insight into shippers’ freight operations, support more effective business decisions, and identify strategic changes that can lower expenses, streamline operations, and boost profitability. By using data from shippers’ transportation costs and payments, A3’s spend analytics services help them avoid overpaying in the future.
“Freight bill audit and payment has become a tactical function. We add value for clients by pursuing savings and identifying spend management opportunities from within their supply chains.”
VP Sales & Marketing
A3 Freight Payment
Finding Savings Opportunities
A3 leverages scenario modeling and the statistical analysis capabilities found in artificial intelligence to quantify and identify trends, as well as small, but costly anomalies, like inaccurate oversized charges on parcels.
“Even if there aren’t many of these charges, the dollar amount of savings opportunities can be sizable,” Cameron says. As important, shippers often can achieve the savings with minimal effort. “You get a lot of bang for the buck,” he says.
Once a shipper is an established client of a freight audit provider, ongoing savings on the audit itself generally are around one-half of 1%, Cameron says. The reason it’s generally not higher? The audit provider should be correcting errors, so more transactions proceed accurately and savings from mistakes decline over time. Of course, transportation costs should also decline.
It’s on the spend management side—where A3 focuses—that the savings opportunities can be significant, Cameron says. “We find and highlight operational problems, like expedited shipments that don’t need to be expedited, or poor carrier selection,” he says. When these are addressed, the savings can range from about 5% to as high as 20% of freight spend, he adds.
Another unique feature of A3 is its bankruptcy remote structure.
This provides clients an additional layer of protection, in the unlikely event A3 should run into financial problems.
As shippers increasingly look for enhanced services and added value from their FBAP providers, A3 Freight Payment continues to meet their needs. “Our direction and focus are on using freight data to help companies identify and leverage opportunities for cost savings and efficiencies,” Cameron says.
AFS Logistics: Data-Driven, Time-Tested Logistics Expertise
Now in its fifth decade, AFS Logistics has expanded from one location in Shreveport, Louisiana, to eight locations in North America. It manages more than $11 billion in freight spend and helps more than 1,800 clients across 35 countries save more than $180 million from their annual transportation expenses.
In 2023, for the fourth time, AFS Logistics was added to the Inc. 5000 list, a recognition that it remains one of the country’s fastest-growing private companies. Its growth is a result of both organic client growth and acquisitions, says Scott Matthews, president, freight audit and payment.
Even as it has grown, AFS retains the flexibility to support small shippers, global enterprise organizations, and most companies in between. Its client list spans consumer packaged goods companies, retail and ecommerce firms, medical and healthcare enterprises, and consumer electronics companies, among others.
“We provide scalable freight bill audit and payment services with the flexibility to handle everything,” Matthews says.
AFS’ audit process typically identifies errors that account for up to 8% of clients’ transportation expenses, Matthews says. The mode of transportation and audit rules established by the client may impact what an individual client may observe, he adds.
“We provide scalable freight bill audit and payment services with the flexibility to handle everything.”
President, Freight Audit and Payment
Establishing a Continuous Improvement Process
AFS partnered with a large consumer electronics and technology client that has significant global transportation spending, as well as complex business rules, coding logic, and match payment criteria.
AFS established a continuous improvement process, including identifying and prioritizing transaction types that were falling into exceptions and required manual interventions.
AFS then worked with the company and its carriers to define the root causes of the process failures, and then implemented corrective action to prevent future transactions from moving into exceptions. “This improved the first pass process yield and the invoice audit cycle time,” Matthews says.
AFS will continue to grow both organically and through acquisitions, Matthews says. “The acquisitions provide access to a greater volume of market data that can be leveraged to the benefit of our clients, while continued investments in our AFSmart technology suite ensures that cutting-edge solutions remain as a foundation to provide excellence in client deliverables,” he says.
ARTC Logistics: Trustworthy and Transparent
ARTC Logistics, formerly AR Traffic Consultants, brings more than five decades of transportation experience and expertise, as well as a proprietary suite of technology tools to help its clients manage their freight expense.
The company’s flagship software, CalcRate, streamlines shipping processes and reduces shippers’ costs by storing all its clients’ carrier rates and supporting carrier selection information. It also provides rating and freight audit/payment and tracking functions.
ARTC Logistics’ CalcRate Shipping Portal combines all elements of the company’s other products, including rate shopping, carrier selection, load tendering, shipment rating, advance ship notification, and tracking and reporting functions. Shippers can easily use all products from one site.
Over the past year, more shippers have focused on managing their inbound freight spend, says Nick Fisher, director of sales and partnerships. However, they typically don’t control these shipments, which are tendered by their vendors, he adds.
To help manage this expense, ARTC’s Vendor Portal enables them to easily let their vendors know which carriers they should use.
“The vendors can use it to access open orders for their customers (ARTC’s shipper clients) and then the portal will automatically select the appropriate carrier and tender the load,” Fisher says.
The Vendor Portal also provides advance shipment notices (ASNs) so shippers can track shipments and immediately account for freight costs, he adds.
ARTC Logistics studied the inbound routing expense for a long-term client. The analysis revealed that vendors were misrouting when shipping collect to the company, with the extra costs totaling about $20,000 per month.
Based on this information, and to minimize the likelihood of future overcharges, the client decided to use the inbound routing portal.
“When it comes to freight payment and audit, having access to the stored contracted rates will allow you to be more effective in auditing the freight bill.”
Director, Sales and Partnerships
Conducting In-Depth Analyses
Shippers looking for in-depth analyses of their freight expense can work with ARTC Logistics to conduct a range of studies.
These include analyses of routing compliance to identify shipments that weren’t tendered to the shipper’s preferred carrier; carrier report cards to measure on-time performance; evaluations of LTL and truckload shipments to determine those that can be combined into multi-stop, multi-origin truckload shipments; and inventory supply point studies to determine the most cost-effective sourcing locations.
To ensure carriers are charging ARTC’s clients the amounts to which both parties agreed, ARTC enters the contractual amounts within its own database. This runs counter to some organizations, who rely on accessing carriers’ rates in real time.
“There are some advantages to getting the rates in real time when you’re rate shopping for load planning,” Fisher says. “However, when it comes to freight payment and audit, having access to the stored contracted rates will allow you to be more effective in auditing the freight bill,” he adds.
By continually working with its customers and their carriers, and maintaining ongoing investments in technology, ARTC Logistics is helping its shipper clients more effectively compare and contrast shipping options.
Cass Information Systems Inc.: Expense Management Expertise
Cass Information Systems leverages its more than six decades in the freight audit business to move beyond traditional freight audit and payment and provide transportation spend management.
“Audit and paying freight bills remain our foundation, but we also offer other services that can help both shippers and carriers,” says Jeff Carlson, vice president of global sales and marketing.
An example is the Cass Financial Suite®, which offers unique working capital programs to benefit both shippers and carriers.
Through the Cass Trade Finance Network™, in which Cass acts as an intermediary between shippers and carriers, shippers can support a low-cost early payment program to help carriers optimize cash flow in the wake of payment terms extensions.
While other quick payment solutions can be found, they typically don’t involve the shipper and are expensive for the carriers, says Melia Cothran, director of marketing.
Each year, Cass’s 1,300-plus employees manage more than $90 billion in disbursements, and process and pay 50 million invoices covering transactions that span 185 countries and 114 currencies. “A major differentiator for us is the fact that we’re global across all modes,” Carlson says.
One Cass client is a shipper operating in 100 countries and producing 300,000 products. Management needed to roll up the company’s global, multi-modal freight data into one platform to gain global visibility to freight movement and costs.
“It was a monumental undertaking because they had been very decentralized and had numerous other ERP and TMS systems to integrate with,” Cothran says. Working with Cass, the company rolled out a global freight payment program by region. Cass handled the onboarding of ocean, air, and parcel carriers.
Since going live, the company has enjoyed savings of 1 to 5% of its transportation costs; the exact rate varies with the transportation mode, the carrier, and the region of the world. The company has gained global and regional views of its shipments, costs, carriers, and other information. It has also been able to execute master global freight rate agreements, further driving savings and simplifying rate management.
“A major differentiator for us is the fact that we’re global across all modes. We’re seeing growth because we’re evolving with our customers.”
VP Global Sales and Marketing
Cass Information Systems Inc.
Cass Commercial Bank, a wholly owned subsidiary, offers Cass clients confidence that their payment transactions are secure, audited, and regulated. As a public company, Cass’s financial and corporate information is readily available and shippers can be confident Cass employs the controls needed to protect their funds. Its sophisticated financial exchange capabilities provide additional benefits, such as precisely timed payments to carriers.
And, the team at Cass continues to drive forward. It’s investing heavily in artificial intelligence and machine learning. “It makes us more efficient and smarter, which in turn makes our shippers and carriers more efficient and smarter,” Carlson says. “We’re seeing growth because we’re evolving with our customers,” he adds.
CT Logistics: 100 Years of Freight Audit Services
Few companies survive to celebrate a century in business. CT Logistics can claim membership in this impressive group.
From its headquarters in Cleveland, Ohio, and regional offices in the United Kingdom and around the world, CT Logistics serves small firms and global enterprises. “Our global locations are essential for understanding and best serving international clients,” says Allan J. Miner, chief executive officer.
At the core of CT Logistics’ success is its history and expertise in the freight bill audit and payment niche. “The real thrust of FBAP business today is actionable, real-time information that shippers receive via the web or create from their FBAP provider’s website,” Miner says. CT Logistics’ sophisticated reporting tools allow clients to easily view graphics, generate pivot tables, and email reports on a scheduled basis, among other capabilities.
CT Logistics employs web services to help its clients streamline the exchange of information, and to obtain management information and reporting. In addition, CT Logistics offers an experienced team of logistics professionals that provide value-added consulting and project management for spend analyses for benchmarking and cost comparisons, Miner says.
Even after a century of success, CT Logistics continues to innovate. To enable shippers to make more informed decisions, many of its offerings are focused on predictive analytics. “Our Qlik® powered reporting system allows clients to create or drill down into any field or data element in any report 24/7,” Miner says. These interactive data visualizations enable clients to more easily identify performance issues and apply corrective actions immediately, he adds.
“The real thrust of FBAP business today is actionable, real-time information that shippers receive via the web or create from their FBAP provider’s website.”
Allan J. Miner
Chief Executive Officer
When CT Logistics begins to work with a new client, typical freight bill savings tend to run approximately 3 to 7% of freight spend, Miner says. While these savings are clearly important, “the more intangible, but invaluable savings for shippers come with visibility to their shipping data and the predictive analytics that’s possible because of all the data captured,” he adds.
CT Logistics worked with one of the largest and most widely respected technology companies in the world. Prior to this partnership, the company was operating within a decentralized structure, and its business processes were managed on a regionalized basis. The company had only limited—and in some cases, no visibility—to its global transportation spend.
CT Logistics, working from its offices in the United States and the U.K., partnered with the company to deliver a global transportation invoice validation and visibility solution across 41 countries, dozens of currencies, and hundreds of millions of dollars of transportation spend.
“The solution dramatically improved their global logistics and supply chain groups, delivering centralized control, standardized processes, and a global database and repository of shipment activity by country and region,” Miner says. The two companies recently signed another multi-year agreement.
As this example shows, CT is continuously expanding its universe of value-added products and services up and down the supply chain, to provide the visibility and data capture that can help companies make more informed decisions and boost performance.
What’s more, CT Logistics is not done yet. “We continue to expand beyond the core FBAP services to meet the needs of our clients and the market,” Miner says.
CTSI-Global: Logistics Technology and Intelligence
CTSI-Global offers its clients freight audit and TMS solutions across all modes of transportation, industries, and carriers, both domestic and international.
Its world-class technology, refined over decades, fully automates audits for all duplicate, rate, discount, ancillary, and performance metrics. “Because our solutions are fully customizable, we can address logistics needs for any size or type of company,” says Elizabeth Nolan, vice president of contracts and compliance.
Every year, CTSI-Global processes more than 2 billion freight transactions, totaling more than $15 billion in freight dollars.
By leveraging this experience and knowledge, CTSI-Global can catch freight invoice errors that would otherwise go undetected. And because it has personnel in multiple countries, CTSI-Global understands the languages, customs, regulations, and complexities of global business.
Along with saving clients money by identifying carrier overcharges and duplicate billing, CTSI-Global can handle shippers’ freight payment functions, freeing shippers’ employees for other responsibilities, Nolan says.
“Insight from our business intelligence tools is invaluable. It can be used for increased efficiencies and forecasting.”
VP Contracts and Compliance
Providing Supply Chain Insights
CTSI-Global’s robust Business Intelligence tools can be used to create dynamic reporting, drawing on freight data received from both carriers and shippers. Clients have full transparency into carrier rates, coding logic, and invoices. “This insight is invaluable. It can be used for increased efficiencies and forecasting,” Nolan says.
By leveraging its extensive experience designing customized coding techniques, CTSI-Global can accommodate virtually any request and allocate costs by a range of criteria. In addition, the experts at CTSI-Global review all billing exceptions to modify, reject, or approve them for payment processing—with audit and cost allocation requirements customized to meet each shipper’s needs, Nolan says.
CTSI-Global recently earned the distinction as a Top 25 Regional Supplier to a global technology manufacturer and member of the Fortune 500. They were chosen from about 12,000 supplier candidates.
Even as it earns accolades, CTSI-Global is improving and expanding its offerings to address the ever-evolving needs of its clients. Among other capabilities, CTSI-Global’s Parcel Management solution validates global addresses, prints labels, and tracks shipments with predictive analytics, Nolan says.
CTSI-Global also is taking steps to reduce its environmental impact and that of its clients. “So far this year, the company’s global headquarters has increased energy generated from sustainable sources by 25%,” Nolan says.
“Additionally, we are adding new sustainability management tools for our clients to help them meet sustainable development goals for the three pillars of economy, society, and the environment.”
Fortigo: Leveraging Automation to Optimize Your Supply Chain
For more than 20 years, Fortigo has pioneered the one system—any shipment transportation management system (TMS) and freight audit solution. By marrying its TMS and its freight audit and payment (FAP) service in a closed-loop ecosystem, Fortigo can offer its clients maximum visibility and hard-dollar savings.
Historically, TMS solutions have been geared to a specific geography. Shippers who operated in different regions of the world would need to work with multiple systems, and often lacked macro visibility into their global operation.
Through its cloud-based TMS, Fortigo can cover any shipment, any mode, and any geography. The solution also removes limits on the number of carriers, rates, or shipping data, so companies can maximize efficient shipping both regionally and globally, a step towards complete transportation network optimization.
They can also rely on one system of record for full visibility into their global supply chain. Similarly, Fortigo’s freight audit system can pay carriers in any geography and with any currency.
Pairing Fortigo’s freight audit service and TMS in a single, closed-loop system means shippers gain access to thousands of carriers and are able to enforce business rules and easily identify incorrect charge codes throughout the shipment process. This can compound savings for customers, while providing maximum visibility, cutting costs, and improving overall supply chain efficiencies.
“Fortigo’s one-stop system offers a proven track record of transportation savings and provides features that simplify all aspects of a global, enterprise supply chain.”
Founder and President
Logistics Technology—On Demand
On-Demand logistics technology enables companies to deploy Fortigo’s solutions in less than six weeks thanks to minimal IT resource requirements. Fortigo’s TMS and freight audit solutions are trusted by large, multinational companies with complex constraints and global shipping across all geographies, using multiple modes of transportation. Their customers include the world’s largest airlines.
Fortigo’s freight audit service eliminates overcharging and identifies incorrect charges based on multiple criteria, including carrier service level agreement, negotiated rate sheets, and volume discounts.
Fortigo also guarantees the accuracy of its freight audit process—an industry first feature that customers love. Through its expansive investment in data security, Fortigo safeguards all customer data.
In mid-2022, Fortigo was named an inaugural FedEx Certified Freight Bill Audit and Pay (FBAP) provider. Fortigo once again received this prestigious certificate in 2023. Additionally, Fortigo is the only multimodal TMS provider that is also a certified FBAP provider by FedEx for both parcel and freight (LTL).
To adapt to the changing logistics environment, Fortigo continues to expand its offerings. Over the past year, it has added more than 80 new features and enhancements, such as integrations with quote-based carriers and cargo airlines, to its solution.
First-year savings for customers switching from manual processes to Fortigo’s freight audit solution can range from 7 to 12%. Established customers typically see annual savings ranging from about 1 to 5%, with the exact rate depending on the volume of shipping and complexity of their transportation network. Fortigo is a value-add solution with customers seeing return on investment on day one of activation.
From the early days, the team opted to grow organically and focus on delivering customer-oriented solutions. This past July, Fortigo announced the opening of a new operations center in Greece.
The new team will include supply chain and software development experts and is expected to double in size over the next two years.
“As demand for cloud-based supply chain solutions rapidly grows in Europe, we are excited to expand our presence,” Founder and President George Kontoravdis said in a statement.
The new operations center will tap into the highly educated and experienced local talent pool, Kontoravdis added.
nVision Global Technology Solutions, Inc.: Complete and Global Freight Management
“It’s often said that today’s differentiating features are tomorrow’s minimum expectations,” says Keith Snavely, senior vice president, global sales. With that in mind, nVision Global is preparing for this shift through its ability to provide extensive data capture, to clean and normalize data, and to offer strong analytical tools.
“Our nSight Global Freight Management Analytics Tool is a robust, evolving solution featuring hundreds of key performance indicators with thousands of variations that allow the user to streamline and optimize their global supply chains,” he says.
Over the next few years, nVision Global will build on its success by partnering with its clients and acting as an extension of their logistics and accounting departments, and providing a one-stop, all-inclusive freight audit, payment, and transportation spend management solution. This will encompass several systems.
One is nVision’s Global Payment Solutions. With the onset of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act and as transportation expenditures receive closer scrutiny, companies are looking to partner with a single-source provider that can provide payment solutions on a global scale, Snavely says. “nVision Global has seven corporate-owned, strategically placed, full-service processing centers on three continents to accommodate our customers globally, as well as meet their regional requirements,” he says.
In addition, nVision Global will continue to evaluate customers’ global needs and open additional centers as needed to meet them.
“As shippers are challenged to do more with less, freight audit providers are helping them reduce supply chain costs.”
SVP Global Sales
nVision Global Technology Solutions, Inc.
nVision is also working to maintain its edge in transportation spend management, building on its extensive, internet-based information analytical tools, as well as its data cleansing/normalization and harmonization processes. These initiatives will add greater value to shippers’ data analysis, Snavely says.
Additionally, as companies need to do more with less, nVision’s clients have come to rely on the company’s analytical tools to help them optimize and streamline their overall supply chains.
Along with global mapping, trending, benchmarking, ad-hoc report writing, and other capabilities, nVision Global continues to expand its nSight Global Freight Management Analytics Tool.
By building on its transportation management services and solutions, nVision Global is moving beyond simply processing and paying invoices and capitalizing on the extensive operational business intelligence (OBI) captured from clients’ freight invoices.
nVision helped a leading supplier of automatic test equipment and interconnection systems to efficiently manage global freight invoices for transportation providers across multiple countries and currencies. To accomplish this, nVision designed a global solution that allowed the company to roll up each division’s total transportation spending into one global database, providing worldwide visibility in a real-time environment.
This capability enabled the company to cut its pool of suppliers to a more manageable number, while continuing to serve its customers. It also achieved savings through the freight invoice audit, as well as reduced internal administrative costs and transport costs.
“Through the utilization of nVision’s web-based applications, the company is able to realize year-over-year savings, supply chain efficiencies, and productivity gains,” Snavely says. “We strive to accomplish this for all our customers.”
U.S. Bank Freight Payment: Freight Audit and Payment Made Easy
As a full-service, federally regulated financial institution and provider of FBAP services, U.S. Bank focuses on technology, security, and reliability while delivering solutions that satisfy clients’ needs. Data dashboards, analytics, and self-service capabilities, which the bank co-creates with its clients, remain areas of focus as well.
“We have multi-year investments in technology and data analytics to provide actionable insights that will help our customers improve their operations,” says Scott Burglechner, senior vice president and head of freight payment product management. Depending on a shipper’s current FBAP operation or methodology, savings in the first year can be up to 10%, he says.
“U.S. Bank’s FBAP platform enables shippers to deliver dependable and predictable payments to carriers and helps resolve exceptions quickly and reduce errors by collaborating online, in real time.”
SVP & Head of Freight Payment Product Management
Enhancing Shippers’ Working Capital
In today’s uncertain economic environment, an increasingly important differentiator is U.S. Bank’s ability to help shippers enhance their working capital by extending transportation freight payments to 60 or 90 days, or even longer, without having to renegotiate contracts, Burglechner says.
At the same time, U.S. Bank provides carriers accelerated payment options to meet their cash flow needs.
The FBAP platform U.S. Bank has developed provides end-to-end visibility for both shippers and carriers. “The platform enables shippers to deliver dependable and predictable payments to carriers and helps resolve exceptions quickly and reduce errors by collaborating online, in real time,” Burglechner says.
As a result, shippers can focus on collaborating for strategic supply chain improvements, instead of spending time resolving invoice and payment disputes.
Within its world-class, Tier IV data center, which offers one of the most reliable, fault-tolerant, and secure environments available, U.S. Bank employs segregated builds to prevent co-mingling of customer data. “We also safeguard sensitive supply chain data to help protect partners and suppliers from cybercrime,” Burglechner says.
A large apparel retailer set a goal of reducing costs by millions of dollars, and needed a trusted partner to provide a reliable, efficient, and sustainable FBAP process that featured robust reporting and strategic business intelligence. U.S. Bank’s small parcel tool provided an audit program to identify savings opportunities across millions of packages per year; it also offered insights on delivery service and mode selection that provided additional savings. In the first year alone, the retailer’s savings topped 50% of its initial 10-year savings goal.
U.S. Bank Freight Payment will continue to invest in products, services, and solutions that make clients’ lives easier, including automation, APIs, faster payments, and advanced analytics solutions for more forward-looking decision making.
It will also continue to make it easier to audit and approve transportation expenses when it is important to conduct a manual review of the invoice prior to payment. And as part of the larger U.S. Bank enterprise, FBAP services will continue to benefit from investments and innovations in cloud computing, AI, security, reliability, payments, and sustainability solutions for customers, Burglechner says.
Choosing the Right Provider: 10 Questions
The following questions can help you determine if a freight bill audit and payment provider is the right fit for your organization.
1) Do the provider’s capabilities and technology investments line up not only with your organization’s needs today, but its likely needs five or 10 years from now?
2) Can the company help you improve your FBAP processes?
“Companies should expect recommendations from a trusted FBAP provider that can improve transportation expense control, increase automation with quality data and intelligent automation, and provide greater working capital,” says Burglechner from U.S. Bank.
In contrast, the short payment model, which is common in the FBAP space, allows problems to continue, says Craig Cameron, VP of sales and marketing, A3 Freight Payment. Say the audit detects an error of $50, and the provider short pays the carrier by $50 and then lets the carrier know the reason for the short payment. However, this information often doesn’t get to the correct person. So, the carrier’s system continues to bill for the $50. “To truly fix the problem, you need a front-end resolution process,” he says.
3) How does the provider store freight rates?
A growing trend among shippers and logistics companies is to access carrier rates in real time, says ARTC Logistics’ Fisher. While this can offer some advantages, it comes with a significant disadvantage: Real-time rates won’t necessarily match the rate in your contract. For example, the freight bill says a shipment cost $1,000, and when the shipper checks the carrier’s website, it also shows $1,000. However, if the contract has a rate of $900, the shipper likely will overpay without realizing it.
4) How strong are the provider’s relationships with carriers?
“Shippers rely on carriers to move freight,” says Dani Funk Heimsoth, senior director of development, Trans Audit. “You (and your audit provider) need to maintain healthy relationships with them to ensure the process runs smoothly.”
5) What steps has the company taken to ensure its processes and controls are secure and effective?
FBAP providers should have complete policies for information security and network security, including data segmentation measures as well as standards for disaster recovery, incident response, change management, and physical security, says CTSI-Global’s Nolan.
You also want to look for current externally audited financial statements, as well as a fidelity bond and cybersecurity protections and insurance, Cameron says. (Fidelity bonds protect against losses caused by someone else’s acts, such as acts of forgery or fraud.)
In addition, freight bills contain reams of valuable information about supply chains. “The company should have established processes and procedures in place to ensure online security and maintain the integrity of trusted transactions,” Burglechner says.
6) Does the firm offer both flexibility and scalability?
“Ideally, the firm will have expertise, the resources needed to regularly upgrade its technology, and the agility to respond quickly to clients’ needs,” says Matthews from AFS Logistics.
7) Will the provider offer a list of client references?
“Also ask for the tenure of the provider’s top 20 clients, as well as its client termination rate over the prior year,” Matthews says.
8) How long has the company been in the core FBAP business?
Some history suggests it will have staying power.
9) What expertise does the provider have in handling the growing volume of regulatory requirements from governments and clients?
Companies need to evaluate and adapt to shifting requirements, such as those focused on SOC, data protection, and ESG reporting, Nolan says.
10) Does it have full-time resources in the regions, time zones, and languages in which your company has transportation activity?
This can streamline communication and problem solving, nVision’s Snavely says. Similarly, in-country accounts can help in providing efficient and cost-effective remittance to transportation providers, he adds.
How AI Will Transform the Freight Payment Market
By Hannah Testani, CEO, Intelligent Audit
Unlocking artificial intelligence’s vast potential starts with impeccably cleaned, labeled, and indexed data. Without this bedrock of standardized and reliable datasets, even the most advanced AI can fall flat.
When evaluating FBAP providers, shippers should prioritize providers who are deeply committed to data normalization, cleansing, and meticulous labeling. Only then can they be assured of data that’s not just formatted but fine-tuned for immediate, insightful action.
Forging Strong Relationships with Carriers
The vitality of fostering and sustaining deep, respectful relationships with carriers transcends mere advice—it’s a non-negotiable foundation for our operation’s continued success. These fortified relationships not only pave the way for advantageous negotiations and bolstered trust but also lay the groundwork for collective problem-solving.
The synergy between shippers and carriers underpins our operational success, and trust is its cornerstone. But trust doesn’t magically appear—it must be deliberately cultivated. At Intelligent Audit, our approach to building trust is anchored in transparency. Leveraging our extensive experience, we’ve honed assets such as our logistics network optimization suite, advanced business intelligence tools, and cloud-enabled carrier payments.
How Intelligent Audit Approaches the FBAP Market
At Intelligent Audit, our primary mission is to empower our customers, transforming them into more impactful and influential players in their industries. Our foundation is built on a robust technology-first ethos, allowing us not only to scale rapidly but also to furnish our diverse clientele—from startups to industry titans—with sophisticated analytics. This empowers them to derive invaluable insights and make decisions that significantly bolster their bottom lines.
In the complex realm of FBAP, what sets us apart is our profound understanding of our shippers’ nuances. While many navigate their operations using standard KPIs like cost per mile or shipment, these traditional yardsticks, especially for heavy spenders in transportation, often overlook subtle data anomalies. Our challenge, and indeed our strength, lies in harmonizing these KPIs with the intricate nuances of expansive shipping operations.
Acknowledging that no single team can master the full operations of a vast shipper, we’ve embraced advancements in computerized intelligence. Our proprietary machine learning algorithms are engineered with an acute sensitivity, designed to spot even the slightest deviations in massive datasets, ensuring comprehensive oversight for even the most extensive shippers.
But data alone doesn’t tell the entire story. The vastness of many shippers’ transportation networks means variations are par for the course. Here, the true magic happens when industry expertise marries technological innovation. At Intelligent Audit, this union is our cornerstone. By intertwining our machine learning prowess with decades of FBAP experience, we confidently discern any dataset variations that raise red flags.
Our proactive approach goes beyond mere detection. We prioritize alerting our shippers about these anomalies at lightning speed, allowing them swift rectification. A testament to our capability is our detection of a discrepancy where shipment weights were erroneously logged in a European format, preventing a client from incurring substantial unwarranted charges.
Yet, our commitment is holistic. Leveraging our advanced platform and unmatched expertise in data normalization, coupled with our innovative analytics and visualization tools, we ensure shippers are primed for rapid, results-driven decision-making.
Gain Peace of Mind with a Post-Payment Audit
Utilizing the latest data security measures and emerging technologies, Trans Audit performs transportation post-payment audits for hundreds of Fortune and Global 1000 corporations worldwide across every industry.
Recovering overbillings and overpayments addressing all modes of transportation and all payment points, Trans Audit has delivered more than $1 billion in benefits to its Clients.
“As a privately held company solely focused on post audit, Trans Audit is Client-centric and provides a holistic approach,” says Vikki Van Vliet, senior vice president of sales and marketing with Trans Audit. This experience is simple, swift, and straightforward from onboarding through claims resolution.
A crucial component of the onboarding process is data ascertainment. Clients either process their transportation payments internally, or they employ a freight audit and payment provider (FAP). Trans Audit works with a large number of Clients that process their data both internally and with virtually all FAPs, creating a strong knowledge base for a variety of payment platforms.
Clients find the post audit process complements the pre-audit and payment process, whether outsourced or internal. “Our onboarding process is refined, requiring minimal Client resources at the onset, as well as for the ongoing support of the post audit,” says Dani Funk Heimsoth, senior director of development.
Positive relationships with carriers are extremely important to the post audit process. Shippers rely on carriers to move freight. Healthy relationships with carriers must be maintained by shippers and their post audit provider to ensure the process runs smoothly.
Carriers have described Trans Audit’s claim filings and refund process as “clear, concise, and complete,” Funk Heimsoth says. According to Funk Heimsoth, “Carrier feedback touts Trans Audit as the largest post audit provider submitting more claims and ascertaining more refunds in the industry.”
Analytics and metrics are critical aspects of any audit process. Trans Audit’s proprietary technology platforms are crucial to its ability to efficiently and effectively perform post-payment audits around the world. “The desire on the part of many shippers for data and analytics reflects their need not only for recouping overpayments and overbillings which remains key, but for the insight that will help them take intelligent corrective action,” says Van Vliet. Trans Audit’s cloud-based technology TransPortal+™ driven by Microsoft Power BI provides interactive dashboards and analytics on claims and refunds for its Clients.
Staying at the forefront of the industry, Trans Audit looks to continuously improve its offering through emerging technologies like artificial intelligence (AI). “Transportation providers and their Clients must remain diligent and aware of how AI can impact the market,” says Peter Kerwin, head of audit operations. “The integrity and protection of Clients’ data is of the utmost importance to Trans Audit, and thus Trans Audit employs the latest security protocols for all Client data.”
With a keen emphasis on the end-to-end management of the entire post audit process, Trans Audit does not outsource any element of its services, provides its Clients with analytics and insight, and monetary benefits, with an intense focus on technology and security, giving their Clients peace of mind™.
When to Engage an FBAP Provider
How large does a company’s transportation spend need to be before engaging a freight bill provider makes sense? While no single number will apply to all organizations, it’s possible to draw a few guidelines.
An FBAP provider tends to start making sense when shippers are spending about $500,000 annually on freight. “At this point, inefficiencies in back-office process exist and an FBAP service provider can automate the process and lessen the cost for the shipper,” Matthews says.
Looking at shipment volume, a shipper with more than about 30,000 shipments annually will typically realize economic benefits by outsourcing freight audit, Snavely says.
These include freeing internal resources from handling this function, enhanced data capture, and automated general ledger account coding, among others. In addition, the shipper will gain access to the freight bill provider’s technology and services, such as rate negotiation preparation and transportation management solutions.