On-Time, In-Full (OTIF) sounds like it should be a simple, straightforward KPI to explain, right? (It honestly is.)
But we are willing to bet that if you ask a few different supply chain industry professionals to define OTIF, you’ll more than likely get a lot of nuanced answers. This isn't because explaining it is difficult, see:
On-Time, In-Full is a Key Performance Indicator (KPI) that essentially measures the accuracy, speed, and ability for a company to fulfill orders in quantities large or small that are requested by the customer.
There is a lot to be considered in order for this type of KPI to accurately measure a company's performance. And there is one thing that most supply chain industry professionals will agree on. And that is that OTIF encompasses a lot of different things and it looks different for every company.
There is another thing that they will agree on. They agree that there does indeed exist a few core items that every company's OTIF rates can benefit from in some way. These are simple concepts but they are concepts that are equally crucial to the success of any company trying to improve upon its ability to consistently deliver the goods its customers want on time, every time, and at a reasonable speed.
In this article, we’ll take a look at some ways to tackle the issue of low OTIF rates so that businesses can adapt and thrive moving forward.
Confusion, frustration, and anger are the norm when your OTIF rate falls. You are left to scramble to pick up the pieces of a rather large and multi-faceted process.
Again, no matter how this process looks for a company, the thing to remember is that it generally encompasses quite a few various processes along the way and they all play into this data set in one way or another.
So, your order was correctly filled, it was on time, and you successfully played your part in the steps of the order fulfillment process. So why is your rate still low and your business suffering?
It’s likely because another part of the supply chain has a slightly different OTIF definition. If you communicate with the said company in a respectful manner and fully explain how you feel your order fulfillment process should be considered OTIF by your definition, one of two things will happen:
They’ll agree with you, and change their OTIF rate definition.
They’ll disagree with you and explain that they are sticking with their own OTIF rate definition.
Either way, you each now know where the other stands and that is fine. Not all areas in the supply chain can even be measured the same way. This is where transparency and communication across the entire supply chain come into play.
Each department can measure and record their data as they need to. However, if it is useful further down the line, then there should be a clear line of communication to give the next department a heads up to potential disruption, delay or any other issue so they can more properly prepare.
It should be obvious that orders arriving late would not be considered “on-time” by anyone’s standard. However, in some instances, shipments that arrive early could also be penalized by companies. This is due to their need to minimize their stored inventory.
If you are shipping to a company that uses JIT rather than JIC for its inventory management strategy, you could run into problems of fines and lower OTIF rates. For example, companies that are trying to minimize their inventory with a JIT strategy will not be happy if your shipment arrives earlier than agreed upon. When that happens, they have to figure out what to do with the extra items.
For a real-life example of a JIT strategy, you need to look no further than the largest retailer in the world. That's right, we are talking about Walmart.
Walmart demands an OTIF rating of 98% or higher from all suppliers. Delivery timeframes are assigned to Walmart’s suppliers. If deliveries come early, late, or are not in full, these suppliers may face backlash. This often comes in the form of lower OTIF ratings. This, in turn, can lead to suppliers’ products being removed from the shelves, leaving these companies in a tight spot.
In some rare situations, such as a global pandemic, retailers will be understanding and will temporarily relax their OTIF guidelines. However, these companies have schedules to keep and shelves to stock, so their leniency will only go so far.
The bottom line: understand your retailers’ inventory management strategies and plan your deliveries accordingly.
Streamline your Operations
If you are finding yourself with a consistently low OTIF rating, it’s important to take a step back. Re-assess how you are running your business and look for areas in which you improve to positively impact your OTIF rating. Consider the following options for improving your business operations and, in turn, your OTIF rate:
Implement the Newest Technology
One of the best ways to preemptively stay on top of any issues is automating processes where you are able. Using the best and latest technology will help to improve your OTIF score as well as ensuring that you sustain your supply chain advantage.
Work with Excellent Logistics Providers
Good logistics professionals are invaluable in helping you solve the issues related to a low OTIF rating. If you’re finding that your 3PL provider seems to be the weak link in your operations, explore your options.
Compare Your “On-Time” Score with Your “In-Full” Score
OTIF is a term that has been misunderstood due to various definitions in different industries. However a company defines it, it is made up of two elements: "on-time" and "in-full".
You may find that your deliveries have been consistently on time, but you still struggled to deliver orders in full. If you must sacrifice your high "on-time" score, wait a few days to ensure that the delivery is "in full".
This decision will have to be decided on a case-by-case basis as every company and every situation is different.