There are few aspects of a business that are receiving so much pressure as the supply chain nowadays. Competition is fierce and there are more and more key players showing up everyday and raising the stakes of how organizational logistics are supposed to operate. To top it all off, you have a new breed of customers who are informed, intelligent, meticulous and not afraid to get their hands dirty and do their research before choosing a supply partner. All of these aspects combined work as a double edge sword, in which the obvious outcome will be a leaner, more efficient and effective supply chain but at the price of more dedicated suppliers and logistics partners who must work hard in order to deliver to the client’s expectations. Globalization, the empowerment of digital consumers and the vertiginous pace in which products and services are changing, are some of the hurdles you must go through in order to maintain an efficient supply chain, now just imagine if efficiency isn’t enough because you want effectiveness.
Today in David Kiger’s blog, we want to talk about some of the best tips and strategies to maintain the productivity of your supply chain and to make sure that as the circumstance change, you are able to adjust and evolve with the business environment that surrounds your organization.
Managing your customer relationships
Customer relationships are more than simply responding to clients accordingly and instead of anticipating customers’ needs and responding to them before they arise. The key here is not to generate solutions and think of them as a one-stop answer to all of your issues, but instead, you should be seeing every customer as an independent entity that can be summed up into a few groups of clients that may benefit from the same services. Understand that not everyone needs the same and therefore, your answer to their issues has to be as unique as the clients themselves.
We have discussed before how automation may become a problem when it is done too broadly and too soon, however, if it is geared toward specific areas that can benefit from faster response times it can make a huge difference in your productivity. Constant monitoring of inventory levels shouldn’t be the precursor to purchasing as this process, in particular, could be greatly enhanced by automation.
Transparency and vision
The best way to prevent fraud and constant mistakes is to have a supply chain that runs with a system that allows for you to have a high level of transparency and visibility of the whole operation. ERP systems that take this necessity into account will guarantee a minimum loss in unexplained inventory and the reduction of financial losses.
Treat data as it should be treated
Do you understand the importance of data and how much important is becoming with each passing day? Some of the biggest companies in the market are investing large amounts of resources into data because they understand that in the future, this knowledge is going to close the gap between physical retail and online stores with its ability to add immediacy to electronic purchases.
The importance of real-time inventory management
Stay away from spreadsheets and paper-based systems to track your inventory. New ERP solutions offer great options to take charge of your inventory management and to do it in real time. The amount of effort you are saving and the swiftness in which these operations can be accomplished will only translate into gains for your company.
Overlook vendor performance
Keeping track of your vendor’s performance is a great way to leverage negotiations when the time comes. You have to think about what is best for your organization, so it is important that you track how your vendors are working for you and to identify which areas can be improved upon. If anything else fails, make sure you are able to deal with the reality of having to switch vendors.
Do not neglect returns management
Sometimes people see returns as a simply unwanted consequence of the cost of doing business, however, you will be better off by accepting that it is as integral to doing business as many of the other more palatable aspects of the supply chain. In order to have solid operations, you must invest in getting your return management system up to speed.
Sometimes we forget about safety because think is a given. Sadly people only have a keen look on safety when accidents have already happened, money has been lost and lives have already been placed in risk. Do not let safety take the back seat and only be improved upon after it’s already too late.
Cloud-based systems are great solutions for companies that are not large enough to have their own IT department or those whose operation simply doesn’t warrant one. These systems are a great solution for streamlining your supply chain, but just like many other things we have mentioned here, they are not a one-size-fits-all solution, so do your research and find out what suits you best.
* Featured Image courtesy of gato-gato-gato at Flickr.com