The growth of a company depends a lot on the network of suppliers and service providers supporting its operations. Even a self-sustained business needs external services, raw materials, and products to support parts of its operations. When that supply network is filled with capable stakeholders that work together seamlessly, the company can leverage it for faster, more sustainable growth.
Before you can benefit from that faster and more sustainable growth, however, the big challenge to overcome first is streamlining your company’s supply chain. Every part of the network – including internal processes – must work seamlessly with each other. To help you get started, we are going to take a look at the best tips and tricks to use in this article.
Learn the Knowledge
Supply chain management is a complex field, which is why one of the first things you want to do when trying to streamline your company’s supply chain is mastering the field. Many business owners, COOs, and executives pursue a masters in supply chain management online degree because of how valuable being knowledgeable in this field is in today’s market.
Everyone is working towards streamlining their supply chain, so it is not surprising to find experts in this field being among the most sought after on the market. Recruiting supply chain management specialists is also a great way to expand your company’s ability to streamline its supply-related processes.
Have a Strategy
Planning is a big part of this process. In order to streamline your company’s supply chain, you need to set clear objectives – usually in the form of workflow and efficiency level that the company wants to achieve – and develop plans to achieve them. This process begins with evaluating existing workflows and the way you now work with suppliers.
The key to successfully streamlining the supply chain is staying lean. Work towards eliminating unnecessary processes and automating the ones that are critical – we will get to this later. The more you can optimize the processes within the supply chain, the higher efficiency you will be able to achieve in the long run.
Develop Your Resources
Supply chain management requires you to be meticulous with your logistics, how you manage the complex tasks within the supply network, and other intricate details. More importantly, it relies on you making continuous improvements and finding new ways to advance. This means the resources you have must grow alongside the company’s supply network.
I’m talking about the business solutions you use and the people handling purchasing and logistics. These are valuable resources that need to be scaled up in order for the company to maintain its operational efficiency. You can’t control what your suppliers do, but you can optimize internal resources for better control over the processes.
Focus on What You Can Control
That actually brings us to the next tip: focus on what you can control. The entire supply network consists of stakeholders that are not always within your management reach. Sure, suppliers may be asked to comply with standards when they interact with your processes, but how they manage internal processes is beyond your control.
If you want to increase visibility, for instance, you can’t simply force suppliers to use a different tracking system. What you can do is develop a logistics network that promotes the use of that tracking system and get the materials to an endpoint of your logistics network as quickly as possible. This is why many larger corporations work with strategic partners for logistics.
Align Your Operations
On the surface, supply chain management may appear to be a way to manage suppliers and flow of raw materials. In reality, however, the process involves so much more than that. Supply chain management cannot be seen as a separate process because it is an integral part of the company’s larger operations.
When a sales executive closes a big deal, for example, the entire company needs to prepare for a sudden increase in production. This means suppliers must also increase the raw materials it delivers to the manufacturing line, all while the line itself makes adjustments (i.e. redirecting resources) to ramp up its production capacity.
Don’t rely on instincts or guesswork when managing the supply chain. As funny as this may sound, many businesses still do that on a regular basis. They rely on experience and a bit of guesswork when managing raw materials, inventory, and the supply chain in general.
Sure, you know how much raw material you need and when you want it delivered based on past production cycles, but that doesn’t mean you don’t need to rely on data. Leaning too much on experience adds unnecessary rigidity to the process; only you (or a handful of people) can maintain the smooth operation of the company in this circumstance.
Becoming data-driven, on the other hand, introduces standards to the process. It is not about how much raw material should be purchased, but how much needs to be purchased based on a list of upcoming production cycles, customer orders, and other data.
Finally, we get to the aspect that you – and we at Technected – love the most: technology. Cloud computing, enterprise resource planning solutions running in the cloud, forecasting tools, and data analysis all make supply chain management more accessible to even small and medium enterprises.
What started as a way for large corporations to operate more efficiently is now a concept that every business can implement. Even small ecommerce businesses can streamline their supply of goods and third-party services in order to deliver a more pleasant customer experience.
At the end of the day, that’s the main benefit of streamlining your company’s supply chain. When the supply of critical goods and services is streamlined and efficient, you can expect the rest of the company to operate just as efficiently. Each part of the company can focus on the tasks in hand, knowing that the resources they need will always be there when they need them.
In a market this competitive, that assurance is invaluable. When you can focus on catering to the customers rather than worrying about suppliers and raw materials, you know you are already ahead of the market.