When a company is aiming simply for continuous improvement, supply chain analysis is imperative. This is because the supply chain can make or break the business in terms of its ability to maintain the supply of product or services to their customers. And let us face it, without that, there is no income and no business. So how can you improve your supply chain to have positive knock-on effects throughout the company?
Adjust your starting point
It is commonplace for managerial members to make decisions for the whole team. Of course, they do this often lacking the intricate knowledge of the systems they are affecting. This has little to no value to the company as a whole and certainly does not lend itself to lasting corrective change. When looking for ways to tighten up and improve the supply chain, it is vital to start with its heartbeat — the very people who are components in it every day. These are your staff on the shop floor, working in production or dealing with customers and suppliers on an everyday basis. No doubt these are the people who will have valuable suggestions for improvement derived from frustrating issues they encounter routinely.
If money grew on trees…
To improve something, one needs to have a clear, measurable and attainable goal that is time-bound. So, for improving the supply chain, it can be beneficial to throw caution to the wind and imagine what the perfect supply chain for your company would be like if money and resources were limitless. Where would things be improved? What would you do away with? How long would your ordering and shipping lead times be? Ask yourself and members of your team these questions and formulate actionable goals based on suggestions. Fostering motivation and staying the course will be so much easier with clear, positive and attainable goals.
Improve transparency and communication
Often the rate-limiting step in supply chains is communication and inaccurate information resulting in misunderstandings. These issues can all be resolved with the adoption of more robust and transparent online systems that connect retailers with distributors and then with the suppliers. If everyone is on the same page there is no room for inaccurate ordering and supply as a result of miscommunication. The same is true of your internal team. Every task under the banner of production will be so much easier, more accurate and more efficient when they are coordinated in one clear and over-arching system. And anything you implement to make your staff’s tasks easier is a win.
Hunt out opportunities for collaboration and innovation
Supply chain management is a logistical puzzle that can be solved many ways though only some solutions will be stellar in their efficiency, accuracy and reproducibility. A way to improve your supply chain is to get creative and search for opportunities for collaboration that might exist with your suppliers. You may be able to get them involved with an innovative project that has mutual benefit and strengthens an existing important relationship. Businesses do not flourish when they remain insular and try to do all things themselves. Delegating, outsourcing and collaborating so that everyone plays to their strengths and utilises help for their weaknesses will see companies grow and blossom.
We have mentioned a few techniques of improving supply chain efficiency, though they have all been relational in their approach, valuing and improving relationships and communication between internal and external partners. Of course, the company’s hardware and software must also align for an efficient supply chain and for that, we suggested implementing inventory management software. In doing so, you will gain a unique insight into where efficiencies can be made by doing away with redundant product lines or suppliers and optimising those that are actually fruitful.
Article by Melanie Chan in collaboration with our team of Unleashed Software inventory and business specialists. Melanie has been writing about inventory management for the past three years. When not writing about inventory management, you can find her eating her way through Auckland.