Your company’s supply chain is one of the most crucial areas of your business, and with many moving parts it is often one of the most complex. It can be an area of real competitive advantage for companies who take the time to improve their supply chain performance, helping to improve customer loyalty, reduce costs, and keep up with demand for products.
However, an inefficient supply chain that is easily disrupted can lead to a never-ending list of problems. In the worst cases it can lead to a company being unable to fulfil customer orders which leads to the failure of the business.
Today, we cover 5 ways to improve supply chain performance to help you ensure that your supply chain is robust and flexible.
1. Create or Review Your Supply Chain Strategy
Different departments in a company will have a range of strategies of how they are going to meet their goals and grow the business. Unfortunately supply chain is often left out due to it being linked with a range of departments who often believe it is someone else’s job. But if you want to improve supply chain performance you need to create a strategy that the entire company can get behind.
When laying out this strategy you first want to look at how things are done now. This “As Is” picture will give you better visibility of your supply chain, both within your company and with suppliers. Knowing who interacts with your supply chain and at what times is vital to start to create your “To Be”, which looks at how you should be set up to operate as efficiently as possible. Having this complete picture will act as a goal of what you are working towards and allow you to lay out what areas are the most important for improvement.
Doing this exercise properly will help to surface if you have a resilient supply chain, if it is fit for purpose, and if there are any areas where you are leaking money. You will then be able to create a strategy of how best to improve supply chain performance and get to work on implementing it.
2. Remove Data Silos
Data silos exist in all departments of businesses, but it can prove to be extra costly when this happens in your supply chain. A data silo is when information is only accessible by one area of the business when it would benefit for multiple teams to have access to. This leads to problems such as double ordering or customer service being unable to get the latest information for customer queries. The result is costly mistakes and unhappy customers who decide to take their business elsewhere.
Removing data silos can be done by having a joined-up approach to your systems. This will often be an ERP acting as the backbone for information in your company which is connected to your other business programs like CRM and SCM platforms. This creates a central location for information access, ensuring everyone is working from the same data.
3. Work Closely with Suppliers
Having a good relationship with your suppliers can be one of the best ways to improve supply chain performance in your business. Being able to work closely can help to avoid shortages and be alerted to issues earlier. When looking at what companies to partner with, there are a few key areas that you need to consider.
The most important thing for a supplier is that they are reliable. You want a company who does what they say they will, ships orders on time, and delivers the right items. This allows you to focus on your own business if you know that your supplier won’t let you down.
Another key area is looking at how flexible your supplier is. Are they able to handle larger order sizes if your company has a sudden increase in customer demand? Can they change where they send product to if one site has a shortage of stock? These types of situations may not be common but having a supplier who can flex with your needs is a massive bonus that can really improve your supply chain performance.
The final key area is how well the supplier communicates with you. You need a partner who keeps you updated on orders and wants to build good rapport to be successful. This will ensure they can come to you with any possible issues ahead of time and you have peace of mind that they will respond promptly to any queries you have.
4. Grow Your Team’s Skillset
Supply chains are complex beasts that regularly see new technology coming to the market. Therefore, it is important that those responsible for your supply chain in-house are constantly learning and understanding these new offerings. Getting a training plan in place to help teams grow their knowledge will not only increase their value to the company, but also bring new ideas to the table on how your supply chain should be working.
5. Always Be Optimising
Due to the fast-moving nature of supply chains, it means there is a need to constantly be optimising. Looking at it as a one and done exercise will lead to stagnation and poorer results over time as the new initiatives you implemented become common place across your industry.
To keep costs manageable, it can be worthwhile deciding on a different area each business quarter to focus on. Then once a year you can look across the entire supply chain to see what areas stand to gain the most benefit from further investment.
Conclusion to 5 Ways to Improve Supply Chain Performance
There is plenty of ways to improve supply chain performance by having a sound strategy, working with suppliers, and improving data flow within your business. The key is to take a continuous improvement approach and focus on building lasting improvements with a skilful workforce who continue to add value.
If you would like some help in getting your supply chain working efficiently, then get in touch with us today. We have helped companies across the UK and Europe to get their People, Processes, and Systems aligned to improve supply chain performance.