If we were to go by the traditional definition of supply chain management, it is the management of the flow of goods and services. This includes all processes that transform raw materials into final products, and also involves the active streamlining of a business’ supply-side activities to maximise customer value and gain a competitive advantage in the marketplace. For any supply chain to function smoothly and with ease, all these elements need to work in tandem. It is a given that the COVID-19 pandemic brought about unprecedented disruption in the sector, which resulted in chaos and disorder in the value chain. This has, therefore, challenged businesses to devise innovative and unique strategies to survive in the post-pandemic world.
Pandemic or not, here are a few ways that you can adopt to up your supply chain management game:
Standardisation and transparency
Experts say that for any supply chain management system, however big or small, it is of utmost importance to standardise processes. It is advised that companies opt for enterprise resource planning, warehouse management systems, transportation management systems, and ticketing systems to increase visibility, control, and scale are the foundations for standardisation. In addition to these resources, adopting a data-driven approach for creating transparency and traceability will drive ownership.
Focus on the 5 elements
Supply chain management is often described as having five key elements: planning, sourcing of raw materials, manufacturing, delivery, and returns. The planning phase refers to developing an overall strategy for the supply chain, while the other four elements specialise in the key requirements for executing on that plan (investopedia.com). In order to have an efficient supply chain and avoid expensive bottlenecks, companies must develop expertise in all five elements.
Dynamic inventory management
The one particular area where brands, especially emerging ones, tend to falter is when inventory management comes to play. Dynamic inventory management will not only help brands bolster their supply chain management processes, but also lead to the efficient implementation of smart & data driven SNOPs (Sales and Operations Planning), that will go a long way in helping reduce wastage. Companies can also use just in time or vendor managed inventory with high-quality control to optimise the value chain.
Transparency is key
To be an organisation or entity that is in tune with the times, sourcing and procurement need full visibility into every step of the end-to-end sourcing process.
While we know that new technologies enable this visibly (so users can track and manage their sourcing milestones and tasks with ease), full visibility into suppliers is important to drive supplier performance. Ensure information is out of spreadsheets and in cloud-based systems where others can access it. Remember, increased visibility will enhance financial control and planning for the whole business.
Agile supply chain
In a world that is plagued by uncertainty and disruption, agility is definitely a prime factor to be kept in mind. Therefore, companies need to prioritise adaptability and scalability. A recent piece in Economic Times suggests that thriving in the current scenario requires organisations to realign their operations and supply chains. There is no doubt that agility in design, systems, processes, and people is paramount. Rapid testing and adoption of new technologies & tools such as drones, blockchains, internet of things etc., will help companies to build a supply chain for the future. Moreover, going electric and becoming carbon neutral in your supply chain initiatives will ensure that you are creating a better tomorrow.
Given the current volatility in internal operations and evolving consumer behavior fueled by external factors, i.e., the pandemic, organizations must establish their supply chain management plans and vision clearly in a way that is in sync with the current global scenario. Investments must be made to bolster infrastructure for supply chains to ensure seamless customer experience and smooth business operations. The pandemic has opened up several opportunities for businesses to rethink their strategies and working towards a strong supply chain management system will pave the way for a better tomorrow.
In order to maximise your supply chain management processes, adopt these steps and watch your business be pandemic-ready and soar greater heights.