Are You a Supply Chain Leader or Laggard?
Running a global supply chain is complex. Economic crises or booms can drastically impact demand, labor strikes can halt production, natural disasters can cripple shipping, plus many other factors. With so much volatility, supply chain managers must ensure their operations are best-in-class.
No doubt, you want your consumer goods company to be a supply chain leader, an organization that is operationally efficient, responsive and adaptive. But, without knowing how other companies reached leader status, it is hard to know what steps to take. Below are 5 factors that all supply chain leaders have in common. While no two supply chains are identical, there are processes your company can put in place to improve your operations.
5 Factors That Separate Supply Chain Leaders From Laggards1. Invest in next-generation technologies. Advancing technologies can improve automation, increase transparency, and boost visibility. In the last few years, consumer goods supply chain leaders have recognized the importance of automated processes. Decreasing reliance on manual efforts improves efficiency as well as data integrity. Leaders are also early adopters of mobile technologies. More and more business is done on the go, and it is important to have technology that can provide you with real-time updates no matter where you are working.
2. Focus on collaboration. Leading companies focus on the long-term. These companies do not just focus on low-cost providers, but rather best-value providers. Many short-sighted companies believe they will lower manufacturing costs by continually looking for cheaper suppliers. In practice, it has been shown that companies that focus on building long-term partnerships with suppliers, end up achieving lower total costs. Supply chain leaders build relationships that build market share. Supply chain laggards focus on short-term results at the expense of long-term improvements.
3. Make your retail partners happy. Consumer goods supply chain leaders know they must focus on best-in-class delivery to meet retail customer requirements. With brick-and-mortar stores competing against numerous online retailers, it is more important than ever for consumer goods companies to optimize performance. Retail compliance requirements will continue to become more demanding. Having the right tools in place, such as integrated EDI, and tools for accurate forecasting for long lead times, helps consumer goods companies reduce distribution errors. Supply chain leaders adopt the tools they need to maintain best-in-class status. While supply chain laggards are consistently hit with chargebacks, unable to efficiently manage inventory levels.
4. Know when to outsource. Studies have found that supply chain leaders outsource production and delivery. Instead, they focus on maintaining control of core strategic functions. It may sound basic, but many consumer goods companies lose market share and customer loyalty when they lose focus on core competencies. When you do not focus on the competencies you do best, you weaken your market position. Combating this requires your company to decide what truly drives your business, such as new product development or strategic procurement, and leave the rest to third-party experts.
5. Remove technological redundancies. Odds are your company has areas where multiple systems are performing the same processes. By removing these overlaps you can improve your company's speed and accuracy for decision making and analyzing information. The easiest way to spot technological redundancies is to look at how many best-of-breed solutions your company uses. Supply chain leaders recognize that using separate systems for each area of the business slows the supply chain. That is because data must move through each system, which all have different rules and update cycles. Relying on one system to control as many processes as possible is the best way to reduce process inefficiencies.