Six Supply Chain Planning Strategies to Maximize Your Company’s Performance

Supply Chain

An efficient supply chain is critical to achieving order accuracy and customer satisfaction. Companies must take the initiative to improve the training of supply chain employees and periodically review their relationships with key vendors and shipping agents. Additionally, they should consider automating their inventory management processes to conserve costs and human resources. Below are six supply chain planning strategies designed to help maximize a company’s overall performance.

Enhance Training Programs for Supply Chain Employees 

Well-trained employees are the foundation of an efficient supply chain. In order for employees and supply chains to operate most effectively, all employees should understand how their individual jobs are critical to the overall functioning of a company. Training programs should be detailed and thorough and should encompass the following points:

  • An overview of the fields of distribution and logistics
  • The order picking and packing process
  • Inventory management strategies
  • Shipping and transportation operations
  • MRP & DRP concepts
  • Communication skills to use during vendor and customer interactions
  • The importance of accuracy and meeting deadlines

 

Whenever possible, supply chain employees should be recognized for mastering key elements of the training process. By providing recognition and incentives, employees remain engaged in the process of mastering the fundamentals of supply chain activities.

Automate the Inventory Management Process 

One of the most effective ways to improve supply chain functioning is to invest in a proven inventory management system. An automated inventory management system increases efficiency through auto-populating inventory fields with default codes for product attributes when appropriate. By automating inventory procedures, companies can save valuable time and money by eliminating the need to manually enter all inventory data. Automated inventory management systems are particularly useful for the apparel industries and others that have an endless number of types of product attributes such as size or pattern.

Consider a New Quality Management System to Monitor Workers

A shortcoming of many manufacturing and production companies is the absence of a quality management system that monitors supply chain employees. While there is usually no shortage of quality management systems that track sales performance, many businesses do not employ any formal type of quality management system to monitor shift workers. A quality management system permits company strategists to identify supply chain inefficiencies, top supply chain employees and effective training strategies. The introduction of a quality management system to monitor supply chain employees will help keep employees engaged and focused on accuracy.

Monitor Vendor Performance 

Purchasing managers and operating officers should regularly evaluate the performance of their vendors and suppliers. Two key performance indicators to monitor are timeliness and order accuracy. A vendor’s repeated errors or failure to adhere to shipping promise dates affects the functionality of a company’s entire supply chain and can be detrimental to customer satisfaction. A long pattern of performance failures should prompt a company to explore the use of another supplier.

Keep Shipping Costs Competitive by Regularly Comparing Rates 

One of the best ways to control costs for your company and your clients is to keep shipping and handling charges to a minimum. As a key member of the supply chain team, a company’s shipping manager should regularly compare shipping quotes from key shippers and freight forwarders. While ensuring a speedy and safe delivery should always be the primary concern for a company, it is also important to keep prices competitive by periodically exploring the rates of new shipping providers.

Choose an Industry Leader to Facilitate Your Supply Chain Planning  

By enlisting the support of an experienced supply chain automation specialist, your company will be another step closer to maximizing profits. With nearly three decades of experience in offering software solutions to companies in the manufacturing and distribution arenas, MaxQ Technologies, Inc. (MaxQ) has established itself as a trusted leader in supply chain planning solutions. Please contact us to learn how we can help your business optimize its supply chain performance. We look forward to hearing from you.

 


Distribution Software Features You Need to Get Ahead

Distribution

To stay competitive in today’s distribution market, it’s almost a given that you’re going to have to use modern software and process automation. This is especially the case if you have a small operation and operate in multiple channels. Tools such as distribution software can specifically help your business successfully compete with larger ones. Here are some features to look for inside of distribution software to remain competitive in your day-to-day operations.

Integration with e-commerce Services

If you run a business that handles multiple different distribution channels, one feature that you absolutely need to have is integration with your e-commerce services such as your on-line stores, eBay and/or Amazon.

The important thing is to try to ensure that any item purchased online through any of your online stores is properly recorded in your ERP software. This is why integration is a such a necessary feature. A one-click solution to integration in a disparate number of online storefronts is exactly what you need to process your orders efficiently. With integrated systems, your inventory and orders can be maintained in one master locations and won’t need to input all of your information twice. The automation will take care of it for you allowing for quicker response to your customers and a complete view of all your sales operation statuses in one system.

Point of Sale Options

Another useful feature to use in areas where it’s applicable is the point of sale integration. Integration will be particularly salient if you have a brick and mortar operation, or if any aspect of your business has you selling to your customer in-person at any time. This could even work for much smaller operations. Integrated point of sale systems with distribution and inventory systems is of particular importance to such operations. Again, you really don’t want to have to input the same thing multiple times. Additionally, inventory allocation and updating can be handled automatically in these cases as well.

Another aspect of this that’s important is the fact that having point of sale integration with distribution services is critical if you have multiple sales happening across different mediums all simultaneously. So, if you have an online portal and a brick and mortar location that are both processing sales at the same time, having an integrative software tool that can handle this kind of multi-channel point of sale approach is an absolute necessity in order to make sure that you’re properly keeping track of the distribution process

 

Multi-Location Integration

Once again, this is a feature that will matter more depending on how large your operation is and how many physical warehouse locations you have. Stocking the right amount in the right location is always a complicated issue. This can be solved by using the right combination of demand planning and distribution requirements planning software. These software solutions will help you determine the what, when and how much to replenish your inventory at the most optimal levels.

Supply Monitoring

Having a systematic way to order, monitor and expedite supplier orders is also a necessity. By automating standard supply chain order process, planners and buyers will be allowed to focus on the exceptions and better buying deals. It is important that accurate lead time be maintained at all times.

Mobile Compatibility

To make sure that you fit your customers and employee expectations, compatibility with mobile platforms is often a must. This includes smartphones and tablets. IBM reported in February 2016 that almost half of all online traffic for this year Valentines’ Day season was done on mobile devices. Without mobile support you would miss out on almost half of your potential customer orders, can you afford that?

For more information about distribution software services, please contact us today.


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.


7 Signs you should Upgrade your Distribution Software

With any business, growth is a natural part of the equation. As this growth occurs, it is important that you maintain your software systems and ensure that they are not ready for an upgrade. One of the most important software items that many businesses rely on daily is distribution software. This software manages everything from processing orders to purchasing and everything in between.

Distribution software is an important part of the day-to-day process that many businesses go through. Keeping it up-to-date is something that is a concern for businesses of all sizes. If you are a company that relies on distribution software, it is important that you take some time to determine whether your system is due for an upgrade. Here are seven signs to watch for.

  1. The Speed is not optimal

One of the main areas of focus that software developers spend time with when creating new software is the speed of the software and how it optimizes operations. They understand that businesses are looking for software that moves quickly and that offers little to no delay in use and operations.

If you are finding that the speed of your current software is slower than you would prefer, it may be time for an upgrade. Having real-time data is a must when it comes to distribution and speed is a huge factor in providing this type of data.

With an upgrade, many businesses are able to see the speed of their distribution operation increase because their employees are not spending as much time with the software doing manual processes. Overall, this helps to promote productivity and makes it easier for work to be completed correctly.

  1. The Processes do not work with the rest of your System

If you are like many distribution companies, it has been awhile since you upgraded your distribution software. However, it is likely that other portions of your system have been upgraded over time. This could mean that your distribution software doesn’t mesh well with other parts of your system.

The dangers with this is that employees could be spending a lot of manual time inputting information in one system or the other. This is a huge time waster, especially if a simple upgrade would allow them to avoid this additional work.

The entire point in distribution software is to help businesses manage and process their inventory in a streamline manner. However, when the software that you are currently using doesn’t work alongside others in your system, this is not something that will be possible

  1. Your Competition is outperforming you

Nothing is a better judge of how your system is performing than your competition. If you find that your competitor has a much easier time managing their inventory and controlling costs, this could mean that they have a stronger distribution software than you do.

 

You should always take time to survey what your competition is doing. Occasionally survey their catalog or online inventory to determine if products are out of stock regularly. If you are struggling with this issue and they are not, this probably means that you could use a better management system for your inventory.

  1. New and Worthwhile Features are Available

With each new upgrade, a list of features and additional add-ons become available. If you find that many of the features that are common in distribution software options are favorable for your business, you should strongly consider an upgrade.

Some businesses view additional features as a nice bonus to their software, but they can actually serve a much more important function. Businesses should carefully analyze the items that they are missing in order to determine the ways that they will help to make them more productive.

Being productive is an important part of managing your inventory properly. As software changes and grows, so does the functionality of the items that the software can control. When looking at the additional features, businesses are likely to find many ways that they can be a benefit to their ability to distribute and manage their inventory.

  1. Lack of Technical Support

Learning how to properly work with software is sometimes challenging, especially if you are using it for the first time. Even those who have had the same software for many years may find that they need assistance from time to time. Unfortunately, technical support is not always available for older software.

If your business lacks the technical support that it needs with its software, this is another area that you should consider when looking for software upgrades. Technical support is something that can help to save you time and energy because you will not be expected to troubleshoot your issue alone. Instead, you will have the assistance of experts to help walk you through the issue you are having.

  1. You’re Losing Money

Nothing can cost more money for a company than an improper management of their inventory. Whether you are constantly running out of items or have a surplus of items that are not as profitable as others, it is important that you have software that will help support your distribution needs.

With older software, it is difficult to discover the information that you need to properly manage your inventory. This is because of the many changes that have taken place in recent years regarding customer purchasing habits and trends within the industry. However, with a distribution software upgrade, you will be able to know that you are receiving the most current information, which will help you to maximize the amount of control that you have over your inventory.

  1. Your Version is no longer supported

Finally, you will need to keep an eye on the creator of your software in order to determine if your version is still supported. As time passes and more versions are released, software manufacturers will slowly start phasing out older versions.

This could mean that your company is no longer working with a version of distribution software that is supported. Having a supported software is important because it allows you to remain up-to-date on any changes that take place with the software. This could be important items like regulation changes or simple upgrades to make the system sounder.

Operating any type of software that is no longer supported by the manufacturer is pretty much like operating in the dark. You will no longer be aware of changes and you may be at risk for data breaches. Plus, if support has ended for a particular version, it is likely that a more powerful version is now available that will serve your needs much better.

What are the Benefits of Upgrading?

One of the best things about technology is that it is always advancing in amazing ways. This means that when you upgrade your distribution software, you will be able to see great improvements in your system. Businesses who perform such an upgrade are able to enjoy more productivity because of the advancements that are now available to them.

Deciding which distribution software is sometimes challenging because of the many options that are available. This is an area that we are skilled to work in, so make sure that you contact us when going through this process. We have the ability to assess your company and to help you find a distribution software that best fulfills with your needs.