Establishing Standard Competency Benchmarks in Freight Forwarding


“Competence is a productive blend of knowledge, skills and on-the-job performance aimed at achieving the desired outcome.”

More than ever before, competency requirements in the Freight Forwarding have become more sophisticated largely due to aggressively evolving trends in global trade and increasing demand for innovative solutions in service delivery.

Technical competence is a critical success factor in Global Freight Forwarding and since Freight Forwarders are key facilitators of global trade, there are competency benchmarks; standard or globally established requirements against which the performance of Forwarders or Forwarding companies can be measured. This is a deliberate exercise to measure one’s performance against the best or top players in the industry. The goal is to identify competency gaps and bridge them in line with standard industry requirements.

Several internal and external sources have revealed that the following constitute some industry-specific competencies that provide the standard competency benchmarks for Forwarders across the globe:

  • An excellent knowledge and understanding of the International Commercial Terms (INCOTERMS) applicable to each transaction. This defines the nature of the relationship between the Forwarder and the Shipper; helps to eliminate potential conflicts that could arise from who bears what risks, when and how; rates and other relevant delivery terms in every transaction.


  • Comprehensive understanding of end-to-end documentation requirements for various kinds of cargo, the required modes of transportation and how to process them.


  • Knowledge of cost requirements and the ability to make a well-informed decision on end-to-end transaction cost with a very thin margin for error.


  • Ability to identify the risk elements of every transaction early enough and provide cost-saving advice to all stakeholders.


  • Ability to deploy technological tools for effective communication


  • A comprehensive understanding of contract terms and the legal implication of every transaction.


  • Ability to technically coordinate all internal processes towards seamless deliveries


  • An accurate understanding of market demands and trends capable of guiding effective decision-making.


  • Ability to instantly resolve customer queries and swiftly recover from service failures when and if they occur.


Any company aspiring to remain competitive in this ever-evolving world of global Forwarding must pay attention to these industry-specific competency requirements and make them human resource priorities. And as you ponder over the issue of competence, note that as important as financial, technological, infrastructural and human resources are to the existence of your business, technical competence remains a critical success factor and a key determinant of how well your company can compete against the best and industry peers anywhere in the world.

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