Behind every key product or service is an effective supply chain. It guarantees the management of resources, from acquiring raw materials and equipment to production and design, inventory management, and delivery of final goods to customers and end-users in a value-adding manner.

Supply chains rely on an intricate network of inputs and operational conditions to function — chief among them, established relationships with suppliers and vendors to avoid logistical errors and delays from production to shipment.

With these interconnected factors that determine successful product delivery — and logistical bottlenecks — it’s clear that supply chain management is a balancing act. Effective supply chain management requires facilitating smooth relationships and contract terms with a range of providers. All of them play a key role in making or breaking any product and the resulting customer experience.

The last thing any business needs is to tangle up essential materials and equipment in inventory issues due to a lack of negotiating power in leveraging the best rates and fast delivery times. Don’t fall into the same trap — learn how to navigate common supply chain issues, and collaborate with internal teams and suppliers to improve supply chain management and product delivery with startMYplan:

Develop Strong Supplier Partnerships

Production lines require established processes, equipment, and raw materials; each of these inputs are end-products of various providers who manufacture them for the sole purpose of feeding the supply chain of companies who require these items for their own applications.

These interconnected production activities reflect the crucial role that supply chain management plays in every key product’s life cycle — and behind it, the importance of quality materials from reliable providers.

Supply chain management is built on reliable partnerships with suppliers who provide inputs into production lines. Since profit is a function of remaining revenue after expenses, it’s healthy for companies to keep production costs low and earn from the considerable markup when products are in-market.

Cost alone shouldn’t dictate ongoing supplier partnerships; however, suppliers that fail to deliver quotas on time and in good condition, or whose customer support lines are frequently unavailable indicate unreliability, which can paralyze shipment, production, and, as a result, sales.

Increase Your Supply Chain Visibility

Supply chain management is often an invisible process to end-users as customer touchpoints typically only occur in the sales stage. But so much preparation goes into production that it requires open collaboration among concerned departments who design and produce various parts of a product. Each of them relies on timely shipments from suppliers, which then dictate timelines for completing various stages of production.

Making the supply chain visible internally allows concerned departments to track the location and delivery timelines of their expected shipments, and in turn, plan efficient project timelines. Similarly, demanding supplier accountability and customer care may require increased inventory transparency.

To create urgency, companies may benefit from sharing inventory data with suppliers in real-time, so they can plan ahead to fulfill current and future demands in an automated fashion to eliminate constant back-and-forth communication.

Automate and Upgrade Supply Chain Management Systems

Digital inventory systems, tracking software, and robotic technology are just some of the exciting developments in modern supply chain management. These emerging trends in warehouse management systems help facilitate efficient tracking, shipping, and distribution. This means raw materials and equipment are quickly directed to appropriate production floors, and new inventory is ordered, received, and stored in a timely fashion.

Over time, these tracking technologies produce historical data that allows supply chain managers to predict demand and schedule orders from suppliers, as well as address logistical bottlenecks in transport, storage, and delivery to appropriate users. New warehouse management systems are now even mobile-integrated and cloud-based so that supply chain managers can track shipments, inventory, and distribution on-the-go and in real-time.

The transition to technology-driven supply chain management further highlights the importance of collaboration. Engaging your IT department beyond software issues opens opportunities for adopting new warehouse management technologies and automation using robotic equipment. The key to the success of these technological upgrades is due diligence and maintenance — ensure that upgrades are communicated, and parts are well-maintained.

Efficient Returns Management

Supply chain management isn’t simply concerned with production; it’s also essential in long-term customer care and satisfaction. Following production and sale, returns and product recalls may occur if defective units are detected. Without an efficient returns management system, warehouses can quickly become overwhelmed and disorganized, and in the process, lose valuable items — and customers too!

It’s important to integrate return management in the supply chain management strategy and software. Tracking return shipments and automatically communicating developments to appropriate departments facilitates a smooth flow of new products and recalls through the warehouse. As well, it informs merchandising of necessary adjustments to sales and product placements. With fast returns, companies can guarantee customer satisfaction and even realize steady profit as quality control issues are quickly addressed.

Invest in Employee Development

Happy employees are productive workers — this is true across the entire organization. Supply chain employees, in particular, perform essential tasks that determine which products get manufactured, as well as how and when.

Without them, production and inventory management will quickly stall, resulting in a decline in customer satisfaction and revenue. Just as you invest in modern supply chain management technology, it’s just as important to strengthen the talent pool behind these developments.

Training supply chain employees in emerging trends and management technology empower them to increase productivity: on an organizational level, these translate to proper material and equipment handling, precise inventory projections, and stronger partnerships with suppliers with whom they regularly interface.

Supply chain employees will respond to rotations and scenario modelling, as well as feedback and dialogue to boost morale and recognize the value of their hard work in the company’s operations and bottom line.

To learn more about how to ensure your supply chain is effective, call startMYplan at 1-888-831-6716 or contact us here.