8 Ways to improve Supply Chain Planning

The supply chain is an integral part of any business. Without the increased attempts to improve the process we go through to get products from the beginning of the chain to the end, great delays in progress will occur.

It is vital for companies of all sizes to continue their efforts of making improvements to the supply chain and planning for its success. This is where supply chain planning enters the picture. Supply chain planning is the attempt to improve the way products leave the hands of the supplier and enter the hands of customers who purchase them.

There are many ways a business can speed up and improve on this system. By exploring these avenues, you will find that improving supply chain planning is much simpler than one would at first believe. When you are looking to improve your supply chain planning process, be sure to take a look at these eight improvement opportunities.

Communication

No business can succeed without great communication skills. Without it, items will be missed, projects will be delayed and mistakes will be made. This is also true of supply chain planning. Communication among all parts of the company in question is vital to the overall success of the supply chain.

For this reason, it is suggested that a business utilize computer software and equipment that can communicate with different portions of the business. This will allow for communication that is fast and efficient, which cuts down on lag time between when one department finishes a portion of the chain and another begins one. This will also allow leaders to quickly find and eliminate issues that may slow down the progress a product makes through the chain.

Partners

While communication between different portions of the chain is important, it isn’t always possible. In many instances, major portions of the supply chain are controlled by outside companies or individuals who are not directly affiliated with the company in question.

If this is the case, business leaders must determine ways to partner with those who have access to the vital information that will help make their company’s supply chain planning efforts effective. Along with this type of partner, it is also essential to find other companies and individuals to work with that can also enhance the company’s supply chain planning process. Succeeding in this area can help a business save time and money, which can then be spent on key aspects of the business.

Align with External Demand

Understanding the effects your customers have on the supply chain is also an integral part of improving the planning process. When businesses are able to predict when their customers will be making specific purchases, it is much easier to keep down inventory numbers.

Research shows that businesses who align their supply chain planning with external demand are able to cut down on the amount of inventory they need to carry as well as the number of employees needed to care for that inventory. In the end, this can help save time, money and make workers more productive at the same time. Taking advantage of the knowledge of your customers that your sales people, marketing and supply chain operators have will help with this process.

Focus on the need of the Customer

One mistake many manufacturing companies make is believing the only thing they need to be concerned with is getting their products into the hands of retailers. The fact is, along with improving the production of the product, they also must consider the final end customer.

These types of companies should take into consideration which products are being purchased as well as which products are not as popular. This is information that can help you determine how much inventory of one product is needed over another. Plus, it gives you better insight as to when to expect certain products to sell, which can help you manage your supply chain planning even further.

Rely on Accurate Data

Data is a huge part of the supply chain planning process. However, if you aren’t focusing your attention on the right data, you won’t be able to make improvements. For example, many companies make the mistake of pouring through rows and rows of data in a spreadsheet when they could be getting more accurate information elsewhere.

The important thing to remember is that you need the most accurate, up-to-date information possible. It is best for this data to be easy to understand and comprehend at the same time. You should quickly be able to decipher the data so that you are able to move onto the decision-making process. The simpler the information is to go over, the better.

Top Management Cooperation

As the importance of supply chain planning has greatly risen over the years. However, along with then need for it, the challenges have also increased. Today, more and more top management leaders and executives have found themselves focused on this important part of the business.

One of the best ways executives can make improvements to the supply chain planning process is to develop a clear set of goals and strategies. These items should be different than the strategies that are in place for the overall company itself. Instead, your planning goals should be put in place to enhance the company and should enhance the process you already have in place.

Understand Challenges

As with every aspect of the business, there are definite challenges that companies must overcome when it comes to supply chain planning. For starters, finding qualified leadership to manage the planning process is sometimes challenging depending on the specific industry. There are also challenges when it comes to determining the ROI in relation to the technology solutions needed to fully utilize supply chain planning properly.

In addition to these items, there are usually both external and internal challenges to face. For example, sometimes communication between the different moving parts of a company isn’t possible due to outsourcing. It is also sometimes difficult to align portions of the planning process with the specific needs of the different divisions of the chain. Understanding these challenges and looking for unique solutions to them will help any business be more successful with supply chain planning.

Track Results

There are many technologies currently available that allow businesses to track their supply chain planning efforts. When selecting these items, make sure you choose mobile technologies along with traditional options. Employees are now on the go more than ever before, which means they will be away from the office a great amount of time. Having a mobile option that helps them with their supply chain planning attempts will help make sure errors are not made and issues are addressed in a timely manner.

Tracking your efforts is also important. You should develop a system where you can automate the supply chain planning process as much as possible. In the end, this is something that will help you see areas that require improvement faster so that you can gain the most benefit from the system.

Supply chain planning is the best way to make sure your business is able to maximize profits by controlling inventory and correcting shipping delays. By putting these eight items into action, your business will quickly discover the process that makes up the supply chain planning system is greatly improved.

Contact us to learn more about supply chain planning and how to improve your business’s system.

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