A lot of the time, supply chain management success strategies are ‘top down’ affairs, and very—well—strategic. ‘Be a low-cost producer,’ for instance. Or ‘achieve a fast time-to-market.’ Or ‘respond quickly to changing fashions.’
But strategies to improve supply chain management success can also be ‘bottom up’, based on insights gleaned from the factory floor, from ERP systems, from general observation, and from data analysis of downtime and production and supply chain problems.
Although less lofty, these ‘bottom up’ strategies to improve supply chain management can still pack a powerful punch, not least because they are usually very practical, and grounded in how the business’s supply chain actually operates.
Here are seven such strategies to improve supply chain management success. Take a look, and I’m sure you’ll see what I mean.
Strategy #1 to improve supply chain management success
Are you getting best value from suppliers? This is one of the easiest strategies to improve supply chain management, as in practice many purchasing departments often don’t regularly ‘market test’ suppliers once having qualified and selected them. So regularly monitor the performance of suppliers against price, quality, and delivery, and act accordingly.
Strategy #2 to improve supply chain management success
Far too many manufacturing businesses make far too much use of spreadsheets and manual systems. Even businesses with advanced ERP systems still fall into the trap of using spreadsheets for planning, and manual systems for data recording. Don’t.
If you’ve fallen into this trap, you might find my recent blog post useful: Speed up your production with manufacturing efficiency improvements
Strategy #3 to improve supply chain management success
When considering strategies to improve supply chain management success, failing to adequately plan for resource requirements is another common failing. The result: late deliveries, overtime, quality problems, poor customer satisfaction levels—the list is long.
Organisation and communication are vital if difficulties caused by lack of resource availability, staff absences and machine maintenance are to be avoided.
Strategy #4 to improve supply chain management success
These days, talk of ‘supply chain resilience’ is very fashionable. But it’s easy to fail at the basics, especially with a lack of resilience in your own operations.
What are the recovery plans if a key machine goes down, for example? Are there pre-planned sub‑contract arrangements? Have recovery plans been documented and shared? And are they regularly updated and reviewed? Do you have a Business Continuity Plan?
Strategy #5 to improve supply chain management success
Starting in the mid-1980s, Total Quality Management and similar initiatives began raising the quality of manufacturers’ incoming parts and materials by placing a high reliance on qualified, quality-conscious suppliers, who could be relied upon not to ship sub-standard goods.
Quality inspections of incoming goods—once regarded as mandatory—fell out of fashion. But today’s lengthy supply chains, terminating in Asia and other far-off places, make this now questionable. Inspect and test goods on arrival: once they reach the production line, it’s too late.
Strategy #6 to improve supply chain management success
One of the least-used strategies to improve supply chain management success is also one of the simplest: engage all the staff involved in supply chain management. Production, purchasing, distribution, warehousing—people in every function will have suggestions and observations to make.
Many companies have suggestion schemes, continuous improvement teams and the like to capture employee input regarding the factory floor. Far fewer extend that to supply chain functions.
Strategy #7 to improve supply chain management success
Finally, when thinking about strategies to improve supply chain management success, don’t forget to take a long hard look at your ERP system. The right ERP system, tailored for your industry, will automate processes for you and lock in best practice.
When it comes to selecting ERP systems, supply chain management shouldn’t be an afterthought: take the time to do it properly, and make sure that your prospective ERP system’s supply chain functionality is fit for purpose, too.
Your ERP system should come ready-equipped to deliver real-time information in the areas of your business where it’s needed – the supply chain being a vital area. Find our more here: 3 areas of your manufacturing business where real time information is vital