Supply chain management is a crucial part of the business process. When it’s done effectively, it can lower a company’s overall costs and boost profitability. On the other hand, if one link fails – whether it’s the producer, warehouse, transport, distribution or retailer – it affects the rest of the chain and can be very costly to the company.
Furthermore, there is now an added pressure of developing more sustainable supply chains, with companies looking to new technology to assist them. As Supply Chain Management Review states: ‘In 2020, we will see AI being leveraged to help predict both waste and recycled product levels that will serve as an input to new manufacturing processes.’
Optimising your supply chain is a complex, ever-changing challenge, so we’ve put together some top tips that will bring greater value to your supply chain operations.
- Keep evolving
Our first and most important tip is never stop finding ways to improve! The job isn’t done once you’ve established a stable supply chain – you need to keep evaluating all the time and looking for ways to innovate. Think about it as a regular health check: make sure performance is still meeting expectations and are within industry norms. Keep identifying cost benefits and remember that every supply chain ‘leaks’ costs somewhere, which you have to find and plug.
- Develop your staff
Of course, companies running supply chains face huge pressures every day, but it’s essential they need to put aside the time to develop staff. Conceive and implement a robust staff-development strategy that involves formal training, on-the-job coaching, mentoring and work rotation. Regularly assess your employees to make sure they not only understand how processes work, but how those processes impact business. You will be rewarded with a more efficient operation and greater staff loyalty.
- Improve communication
Supply chains involve multiple players working on one project and it’s very easy to leave people out the loop. Keep in constant touch with your suppliers with clear communication and let them know what’s coming. Pass on information at all stages of the process – the ongoing dialogue will build loyalty and relationships will be improved dramatically. Within any pipeline of work, it’s your responsibility to ensure good communication comes through you.
- Build an ethical supply chain
As mentioned earlier, there is now increasing pressure to develop more sustainable supply chains – and rightly so. Make sure you uphold broad ethical standards for environmental sustainability and the treatment of workers throughout the supply chain. This is easier said than done as many companies don’t have a complete map of their supply chain, so make it a priority to find out if all your suppliers are educated in ethical practices and have processes for compliance. In this way, you can drive change in the supply chain and play your part in ongoing industry progress.
- Choose the right partners
Relating to the last point, success absolutely depends on choosing the right partners. Cost is obviously a key factor, but don’t let that overshadow everything: pay careful attention to reputation, reliability, adherence to standards, positive testimonials and professionalism. Most organisations outsource some part of their supply chain and logistics operations, which involves a significant handing over of trust. Take the time to make the right choice and, when it comes to letting others be part of your business, never compromise on quality.
Sprint Logistics is a leading fulfilment solutions company that provides supply chain management and global warehousing for a wide variety of businesses. We manage the detail in your supply chain together with the physical shipping process to ensure that your goods are delivered perfectly, every time.
If you would like any assistance or advice in planning your supply chain strategy, please contact us.