Supply chain management is a critical process in every business, including businesses without a manufacturing line. The procurement of products and services that support business operations as a whole – even beyond the manufacturing line – is part of the supply chain management process.
In recent years, supply chain management has become very important. As the market pace increases, the need for better logistics and improved supply chain management increases alongside it. In fact, a seamless supply of products and services can be crucial to the growth of the business.
So, is the supply chain management process you now have enough? How can you improve your company’s approach and ability to manage logistics and supply networks? These are the questions we are going to answer in this article.
Many business owners and executives choose to go back to school and study supply chain management, especially after recognizing the importance of supply chain management in today’s market. Thanks to programs like masters in supply chain management from Kettering University Online, you too can choose this route and master supply chain management yourself.
The programs are designed to meet the challenges of today, so you can expect an up-to-date curriculum and courses on key skills needed for better supply chain management. Taking a course in this field means expanding your ability to organize logistics, automate processes, and manage supply workflows within the company.
Alternatively, you can also hire those with a master’s in supply chain management to strengthen your company. The skills and knowledge they have are invaluable to the growth of the company, particularly when you realize the value of effective supply of materials to other processes within the company.
Automation is the next thing to look into if you want to optimize your supply chain. It is now possible to automate virtually every task in the process, including issuing purchase orders and forecasting future orders.
Automation is made easier thanks to cloud computing and a wealth of business solutions available today. You can begin by automating the manufacturing line and other processes within the company. The data gathered from these processes helps you understand other optimizations that can be implemented as well.
With the insights gathered and understood, you can continue automating the supply chain itself. For example, instead of using manual input to track goods (i.e. materials) along the logistics network, you can automate tracking using QR codes and a scanner at every endpoint.
Once both sides of the equation are automated and computerized, it is much easier to create a seamless workflow. A spike in customer orders will automatically trigger purchase orders for materials needed by the manufacturing line. On the other hand, trends and forecasts will provide the necessary insights for maintaining efficiency of your inventory.
A good supply chain includes multiple suppliers and middlemen; the variety of processes you’ll have to work with is one of the challenges of doing efficient supply chain management today. A solution to this challenge is standardization.
Standards are best implemented internally first. By introducing standards to processes within the company, you make managing those processes easier too. For instance, the use of an ERP system to organize corporate resources will help streamline multiple processes at once.
Standardized internal processes make it easy for the company to improve externally. The same standards can be introduced to suppliers and stakeholders within the supply chain, at least for processes that connect with your internal processes directly.
We touched on how important it is to rely on insights from various sources when optimizing processes. Data-driven decisions are the way forward, which is why you want to be able to leverage insights and data at every turn. Fortunately, the business solutions available today support that shift towards data-driven operations.
Instead of relying on guesswork to determine the scheduling of raw materials, for instance, you can now automate the calculations and have purchase orders issued accordingly. Depending on how reliable the supply chain is, you can set thresholds and maintain smoother operations internally.
At the same time, both your company and its vendors are less likely to make mistakes, since the entire process requires minimum user input. Employees who normally handle the creation of purchase orders and supporting documents can focus on quality control and evaluation of the system.
A visible supply chain is the best, especially in today’s market. Being able to keep track of every item within the supply network allows you to manage the rest of your operations meticulously. Knowing when a particular part will arrive for assembly, for instance, means having the ability to schedule that assembly or redirect resources elsewhere; that minute information helps you minimize downtime.
In a larger supply network, high visibility requires the involvement of all parties. A supply chain cannot be visible enough for the challenges of today if the stakeholders in it insist on using manual processes and paper documents. The changes need to happen simultaneously, but the same changes offer mutual benefits in return.
Visibility works both ways as well. Suppliers should be able to check your inventory level and anticipate future purchase orders. Giving suppliers the ability to plan ahead allows them to fulfill your orders faster and more accurately. As mentioned before, visibility benefits all stakeholders – in this case, it is clear that you also benefit from making your inventory more visible.
Supply chain management isn’t something you can do once and forget. The supply network itself is changing rapidly; the same can be said for the market and the challenges it brings. For your company to maintain an effective supply chain, continuous evaluation is the way to go.
The result of every evaluation provides more ways to optimize the supply network. You can choose to implement the necessary changes as increments or as big leaps in the future. Regardless of the approach you choose to take, the steps we discussed in this article are how you push the efficiency level of your supply chain further. You’ll be surprised by how much you can grow as a company with a strong supply network supporting your operations.