As mentioned and as anticipated, businesses in today’s fast-paced society are expected to keep up to date when it comes to their supply chain. Customers expect an order that is fulfilled in a perfect manner and that means getting it delivered to the right place, in the desired condition, at the lowest price possible. Failure to meet this fulfillment can equal to un-welcomed costs for your business and will cause you to go through the entire process trying to redress the damage. At such a point, it’s also possible that you may have lost your consumers already.
The supply chain is anything but perfect and there’s no way to avoid each and every mistake. There are times when you will have preparations fail to go according to plan and have to accept this and come up with alternative arrangements. However, what’s better than alternative arrangements are supply chain practices that will keep your supply chain as organized and in sync as possible to make certain you deliver quality.
Darren Palfrey of Gravity Supply Chain says: “Think of it like an old, wooden warship. There are many different elements to make sure the ship sails, and it needs a sizable crew to handle all of those elements. A ship needs sailors, carpenters, gunners, people to handle the rigging, someone to keep stock of the supplies, a Captain, and several hands to keep the ship clean. It’s a vast crew, but if they don’t all work in tandem, the ship won’t sail properly, and it will be vulnerable to storms and attacks. Your supply chain is the same way. One link out of sync is all it takes to weaken your business.”
Here are five supply chain best practices he advises to live by in order to achieve a seamless process:
Open Communication And Visibility
The first one to highlight concerns open communication and visibility. It’s important that everyone involved in the process knows exactly what’s happening so they can be able to track progress in real time. This means having an open communication with the following parties:
- Shipping destinations
A lack of communication can cause a delay in the process where things have to be done twice and sometimes not be done at all. A visible supply chain means there are fewer mistakes to stress about. It also strengthens the process, allowing for more production – which is a win for everyone involved.
The best way to achieve open communication and visibility is to have a centralized system of communication between trading partners. Ensure that all of your relevant contacts can be found in one database so to avoid scrambling around trying to keep track of everyone. A centralized communication system will lessen confusion and assist everyone in being updated regarding their tasks, speeding up the progress.
Take It One Step At A Time
Today’s world is of instant gratification where much of a business’ value is determined by how quickly they’re able to get the product to a customer. This then at times tempts hurrying the process along and as we know, that can lead to mistakes. Your supply chain will be more efficient if things are taken one step at a time with a realistic expectation of how long it will take to get things done. Remember to keep everyone informed of those expectations, as indicated above. Mistakes that come from rushing the process in the end do nothing but slow everything down. Should you find an effective method that helps in quickening the pace of the supply chain, implement but don’t make the error of trying everything all at once.
Have A Clearly Defined Management
There are questions to ask when defining the management. These include:
- Who collects the data to inform the supply chain?
- Who performs quality control on the orders before they are sent to their next destination?
- Who informs the manufacturers when a new order has been placed and who manufactures those orders?
Your supply chain could be quite expansive which is usually a sign of success but having too many people responsible could be a disaster. At the same time, trying to manage every aspect yourself as a leader might cause you to miss some important aspects and details.
Make sure every link in the supply chain is a trusted source that has a clearly defined role and is carefully managed within itself. Assign quality control at certain stops in the supply chain to help you ensure that everything is still running as it should and then proceed to the next step. Having each specific link of the supply chain being trusted and well managed will strengthen communication and make the whole unit easy to manage.
Measure Your Performance As You Go
Measuring your performance as you go at first can seem like a tedious process at first, however to get the job done well, it’s needed to save you from any surprises. Keep a regular account of errors as well as things you get right. Measuring your performance and the performance of your trading partners monthly will enable you to know what parts of your supply chains work and what parts don’t so you can get rid of anything that doesn’t work.
Always Have A Plan For Mistakes
Mistakes, as mentioned, easily happen. For example, at some point one of your customers is going to receive the wrong invoice or the wrong product. It could happen that the product is even late or damaged. How you then handle it from the moment a customer complains will determine your ability to keep the business. The first thing to do is to make sure they are aware that their input in valued by responding promptly, apologizing and letting them know you are doing everything in your power to rectify your mistake. Refund them if they have been overcharged, or offer to replace the product if it’s broken or misplaced. In all that you do, being prompt is the most important part. It will prevent losing your customers and earning a bad reputation, which is the last thing your business needs.
Palfrey concluded and said: “Ultimately, it all comes down to having a team of trading partners you can trust who are excellent at their clearly defined roles and keeping open communication in real-time. Using these supply chain best practices will help your supply chain run smoothly, which aids in perfect order fulfillment and customer satisfaction.”