How to Manage a Supply Chain

Last Updated: 

June 3, 2024

A supply chain must be structured around how it functions in the market and consumer demands, which are always changing. This makes supply chains increasingly and incredibly complex. It's not just a calculation of the physical flow of goods. There are costs, sustainability, disruptions, and risks to factor into.

Managing a supply chain and understanding supply chain technologies is an important topic, no matter what type of business you run. An optimised supply chain with a high likelihood of success is in its best position to advance with a high likelihood of success.

Let's learn how to manage a supply chain.

Key Takeaways on Managing a Supply Chain:

  1. Set Clear Goals: Establish a supply chain around clear goals. Create a plan and execute strategies to improve infrastructure and move closer to achieving these goals.
  2. Monitor Consumer Demand Patterns: Supply chain management should be guided by understanding patterns in consumer demand. Monitor annual changes, learn to predict them, and adjust the supply chain to cut costs accordingly.
  3. Consider Third-Party Logistics Providers: Hiring a third-party logistics provider can save time, effort, and stress. These providers handle everything from shipping to warehousing, helping navigate the complexities of supply chain dynamics.
  4. Maintain Close Contact with Suppliers: Keep in touch with suppliers to stay informed about potential delays or issues. Encourage open communication to address problems promptly and find solutions.
  5. Strategically Locate Warehouses: Consider the size and location of warehouses, especially in global supply chains. Efficiency and cost are influenced by warehouse placement, and strategic decisions are crucial.
  6. Negotiate Favourable Shipping Terms: Leverage your shipping volume to negotiate better terms. Shipping is a major expenditure, and optimising costs can significantly impact the overall supply chain budget.
  7. Be Prepared for Problems: Anticipate issues in the supply chain and be ready to react effectively under stress. Quick problem resolution minimises disruptions and ensures smoother operations.
  8. Think Outside the Box for Solutions: Reroute shipments, adjust production schedules, or explore alternative suppliers when addressing issues. Creative problem-solving is crucial for overcoming challenges in the supply chain.
  9. Prioritise Transparency in Collaboration: Foster transparency within the supply chain and encourage collaborators to communicate openly. Address problems collectively, viewing the supply chain as a collaborative team effort.
  10. Utilise Digital Analytics: Leverage advanced AI optimisation, machine learning, and digital analytics to gain insights into supply chain operations. Optimise performance, identify opportunities for cost savings, and enhance resource utilisation.
  11. Keep Customers Informed: In case of disruptions or delays, maintain transparency with customers. Communicate proactively to inform them about any issues that may affect the delivery of their orders.
  12. Employ Skilled Personnel: Whether hiring third parties or managing internally, ensure that key positions in the supply chain are filled by skilled individuals. Trust them to think strategically, troubleshoot, and contribute to the growth of the supply chain.
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Have a Clear Set of Goals

Even if you're a beginner, a supply chain should be created around a clear set of goals. This is your start. From there, you can enact a plan and execute strategies to improve the infrastructure to bring you closer to your goals.

Monitor Patterns in Consumer Demands

Supply and demand are guiding factors in supply chain management. Look for annual patterns in consumer demand expansion and change. Understand why demand changes. Learn to predict it and adjust your supply chain accordingly to cut costs.

Consider Hiring a Third-Party Logistics Provider

Putting the responsibility to manage a supply chain on someone else can save time, effort, stress, and hassle. A third party logistics provider will handle everything on your behalf, from shipping to warehousing, structuring your supply chain, and ensuring orders are picked up and arranged within a given time frame.

As your business grows, you will find many businesses hiring a third-party supply chain service provider to navigate complicated dynamics.

Keep in Close Contact with Suppliers

Supply is another area for monitoring. Just like any stakeholder, suppliers can run into trouble. Keep in touch with yours. Ensure that, if there are delays or problems, they are encouraged to discuss them with you and provide a heads-up, giving you as much time as possible to work out a solution.

Have Strategic Warehouses

Where are your warehouses located? Consider the size of your warehouses and employees. These are all factors that influence cost and efficiency. Especially if your supply chain is global and you ship internationally, this can get very complex regarding where to situate a warehouse.

Negotiate the Best Shipping Terms You Can

When you ship a large volume, chances are you can get a better shipping rate. Consider what's possible for you, as shipping is a major expenditure in any supply chain. If you're not partnered with anyone else, this alone can take up much time trying to maximise your budget.

Always Be Ready for Problems

Have the agility to react effectively under stress. Problems can occur anywhere in your supply chain. When it does, gears will jam and chaos will erupt. The faster you catch and resolve it, the less disruption it will cause. Bank on problems occurring at one point or another and be ready to act when they arise.

Think Outside the Box for Solutions

You may need to reroute shipments, adjust production schedules, or lock in alternative suppliers to address an issue. Don't be afraid to think outside the box when looking for the best solution for a given situation.

Prioritise Transparency in Collaboration

Be transparent in your supply chain, especially with collaborators. Encourage them to be equally transparent. Interact harmoniously and address problems as a group rather than finger-pointing or blaming stakeholders for their failures. Supply chains work together as a team.

Monitor Your Supply Chain with Digital Analytics

Advanced AI optimisation, machine learning, and digital analytics allow supply chain managers to see all sorts of information about how their supply chain runs.

It's easier than ever to discover opportunities to save on costs, increase sales, and leverage resources. This will enable you to optimise your supply chain for its best performance.

Keep Customers Informed of Delays

If orders are disrupted or delayed, always inform the customer. This is part of being transparent. Communicate with the customer and tell them whenever a disruption could affect receiving their order.

Employ the Right People in Top Positions

Whether you hire a third party or do it yourself, find the right people to be in the thick of it with you. They should be able to think strategically, create value, and act effectively in their management role. You should also be able to trust them to troubleshoot and develop when growing your supply chain.

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