4 Ways to Improve the Supply Chain Process

By July 11, 2018

Regardless of industry or business model, supply chains are usually more complicated than we’d prefer. And they’re only one—albeit essential—part of a business. When a company grows faster than anticipated or deals with an unforeseen business event, supply chain efficiency usually suffers as a result. This amounts to considerable revenue losses, possible negative PR and decreased employee morale.

Even if your supply chain is currently humming, kinks can surface at any moment. The mark of a leader is continually analyzing processes for greater efficiencies. To stay on top of your business’ most crucial revenue decider, consider these five areas to improve your supply chain process.

Seek Partners, Outsource To Accelerate Growth

It’s hard for any company to achieve growth without leveraging third-party companies, either through partnerships or outsourcing, especially when trying to grow market share. Just look at Kroger’s partnership with U.K. based online grocer Ocado. Kroger wants to become a bigger player in the online grocery space to compete with Amazon and Walmart, so they’re leveraging companies with proven technology to do it.

In other cases, it might be wise to invest internally in programs or equipment if it’s integral to overall strategy for growth and you have the time to do it. But in many cases, a company can stay leaner by making strategic partnerships with companies that do a specific thing really well, or by paying another company to take care of a process altogether. You want to drive more output and increase your revenue. Leaning on companies with specific expertise in something is an effective way to do so.

Leverage Data To Drive Decision-Making

The data revolution is upon us as companies across industries race to put the data they collect to better use. But wanting to extract value out of data and actually getting value are very different things. Unless your company has an internal team of data professionals, your data efforts are likely stuck in the muck.

However, you can bridge that gap without taking on several costly salaries. AI-powered manufacturing sales analytics platforms are helping companies bridge the gap between collecting data and having it inform their decision-making. With these platforms connected to a company’s entire data suite, questions can be asked by anyone in the organization and responses are generated instantly. Want to know which of your distributors are bringing in the lowest revenue? Or maybe the machine with the longest wait time in your factory chain? Manufacturing analytics can do that. In addition to greater supply chain efficiency, these tools can considerably improve employee morale.

Smart Inventory Control Systems Maximize Sales

Online order management systems integrate inventory information with your organization’s purchasing, accounting and e-business systems, allowing a company to easily track order statuses and the movement of inventory within the company. Having this 360-degree view into your company’s products allows for cost reduction, improved efficiency and fewer customer-service issues. If your business deals with seasonal surges, smart inventory systems can identify peak and low periods, allowing you to adjust supply purchases as necessary and better manage your working capital.

Align Your Supply Chain Performance with Key Company Goals

Trying to improve a supply chain without high-level goals doesn’t get companies far. In some cases, it might have an adverse effect, causing a process to be nixed without analyzing its long-term growth value or potential to increase market share. Unless you have one product and one goal, it might serve your operation well to develop various supply chain processes catered to specific end goals. Whether it’s a new product you’re trying to launch as fast as possible, producing a product with the most cost-effective ingredients based on the current market, or trying to meet consumers’ increasingly inflexible delivery window preference, individually optimized supply chains could make the difference.

The digital age provides more potential for business growth than ever before for companies that can iron out kinks in their processes and be forward-thinking with their supply chains. For companies handling their supply chains reactively, well, the digital era has also brought more competition than ever before. Consider the above four areas when evaluating how to improve your supply chain, both for the current and long-term company vision.