The strength of supply chain management has an impact right across the business. The greater efficiency levels are, the more negotiating power the business will have to secure the best products and rates (consequently reducing inventory costs) and the easier it will be to avoid delays and errors. Robust supply chain management provides a way to optimise overall operations and engage in more effective planning. There are many different elements involved in efficient supply chain management and these are our top tips for helping to improve your existing process.
1. Integrate technology wherever you can
Today there is a wealth of new technology that can help to improve the effectiveness of the supply chain, from the warehouse to logistics and transport. For example, working with a warehouse management system will set new standards in transparency and allow for tracking, as well as greater use of data analytics in the business.
2. Find the right suppliers
Many organisations focus purely on cost when it comes to identifying suppliers but this should not be the only factor. Equally as crucial is the reliability of the businesses that you choose to partner with. If you know that suppliers won’t let you down then your supply chain efficiency is much less likely to suffer. Other important factors might be picking suppliers with the same ethical standards as your organisation or the same focus on environmentally friendly processes.
3. Invest in your people
Supply chain management is an evolving task and the people that you hire to handle it will need to be capable and responsive. Staff development has a big role to play here, not just in ensuring that your workforce remains engaged and focused but also to give them the skills to continue to improve the way your supply chain is managed. This could mean establishing a formal ongoing training programme, as well as other options, such as mentoring, coaching and various on-the-job assignments and training scenarios.
4. Focus on your returns
Many businesses direct all their resources to the process up to the point at which the customer receives the item. However, positive supply chain management doesn’t stop there. Returns – and the way they are handled – can be crucial to the efficiency of the overall supply chain. If the right systems are in place returns can be efficiently re-processed or re-manufactured and the customer can quickly get their money back. Tracking returns can help to identify issues in production or shipping and stop resources being wasted.
5. An ongoing process
Supply chain management should always be ongoing because the systems and technology involved will continue to evolve. It’s key to continuously look for ways to innovate and improve opportunities to strengthen customer relationships and increase cost benefits and speed to market.
Efficient supply chain management is essential to any business today looking to ensure ongoing growth and effective use of resources. It is an ongoing process of investment that can produce impressive results.