Every business relies on a supply chain to ensure its products and services move from producer to the customer. Because your business relies on a system of people, organizations, data, and other resources to move your products and services into the hands of your customers, you need a system that you can count on.
Improving the efficiency of your supply chain can help you minimize costs, save time, and cut waste. What’s more, an efficient supply chain can help you increase customer satisfaction and increase profit potential. Keep reading to learn how to improve the supply chain for your business.
The efficiency of your supply chain directly correlates to your chances for success. An inefficient supply chain means disruptions in product and service availability—causing your business to deliver subpar service and products. Likewise, an efficient supply chain means you always have products and services available for customers and at the lowest cost for your business.
How to Improve Your Supply Chain
Improving your supply chain starts at the top and works its way down. Every member of your team, your vendors and suppliers, and every link in the chain needs to work in concert to deliver efficient results. Standardizing operations and creating open lines of communication will help you improve your supply chain. Here are 5 tips to help you get the most from your supply chain.
1. Create a Supply Chain Strategy
The best way to improve supply chain efficiency is to create a strategy to help you accomplish your goal. You have a business plan, you use a budget and yearly objectives to help you maintain focus and pursue shared goals. So why wouldn’t you create a plan to help you improve your supply chain?
Examine Your Chain
The first step in creating a supply chain strategy is to take stock of what’s happening now. In order to change something, you need to first know how it works. This is a great opportunity for you to identify the strengths and weaknesses in your supply chain and to identify the opportunities for improvement. By identifying which segments of your supply chain are strong or weak, you can create a strategy to improve those areas.
Work With Key Staff
A supply chain demonstrates how dependent we are on others for our success—this is a great time to include key staff from every aspect of your chain. Ask them how they would improve areas that need work and ask them why they think some aspects are successful.
Including others will not only foster a shared sense of responsibility but it will also help you quickly identify areas of the chain that can be improved. Plus, key staff members will almost certainly have good ideas on how to improve your supply chain.
2. Increase Chain Visibility
Once you have an effective strategy to help you improve your supply chain efficiency it’s time to put it into action. That starts with your supply chain visibility. The visibility of your supply chain refers to your ability to monitor each aspect of your product or service as it moves along the chain from producer all the way through to the customer.
Use technology to keep staff on the production floor, in delivery vehicles, or in the office up to date on where everything is, where it’s going, and when it will get there. Real-time updates keep everyone on schedule, which minimizes delays and other unnecessary wait times that grind supply chain efficiency to a halt. QLess analytics tools deliver vital data and information in real time. This allows your supply chain managers to optimize resources, lower costs, and improve efficiency.
Making your inventory visible is another key aspect of how to improve your supply chain. Spreadsheets and staff checked inventory lists can be inaccurate. Real-time inventory management digitally tracks all incoming and outgoing inventory. This lets you know exactly what’s in your warehouse, what’s in production, and what’s out for delivery. It also gives you tangible data that allows you to identify trends—helping you stay ahead of fluctuations in ordering.
3. Adopt New Technology
Adopting new technology will help you improve your supply chain. You should be using software that helps you maintain contact with production sites, delivery vehicles, and more. New technology allows you to provide updates, changes, and other instructions via mobile device to every member of your supply chain.
QLess for Logistics
QLess for Logistics streamlines your entire supply chain. Our powerful software enables you to establish a systematic approach to scheduling and managing large-scale processes. Our cloud-based solution provides modern tools to improve your supply chain efficiency—enhancing communication, boosting productivity, and increasing profit potential by minimizing waste and saving resources.
Data and Analytics
One of the most valuable aspects of the QLess system is the reporting feature. These reports provide data that you can use to optimize your resources, identify opportunities for enhancement, and improve your overall supply chain. Using hard data to identify areas for improvement will help you increase supply chain efficiency and maximize resource allocation.
4. Utilize Automation
Automated business operations can save valuable resources and improve efficiency, but it requires careful management to ensure it works properly. The use of automated technology can improve warehouse management, increase inventory efficiency, and streamline the shipping process. If you’re wondering how to improve your supply chain—automation may be the answer.
You can automate your purchasing processes too. For example, inventory monitoring software can automatically order new products or parts when levels get too low. This automated, preemptive purchasing will ensure that you have enough inventory to fulfill your orders. This can be especially useful if a large order comes in on a weekend when a purchasing manager may not be on duty.
Case In Point
Not all automation is about production or purchasing. Automation can increase contractor efficiency too. QLess recently deployed automated solutions to improve the efficiency of a major multinational chemical company.
The chemical industry is highly regulated. Part of the regulation requires all drivers to complete multiple permit application forms and vehicle inspections. QLess developed an automated system that allowed drivers to use automated kiosks to quickly apply for proper permits and schedule timely inspections.
The results speak for themselves—QLess improved wait times by 46% and saved the company $7 million annually. As you can see, automating some processes can save your company money, increase efficiency, and create a more pleasant work environment. What’s more, it really helps improve your supply chain efficiency.
5. Consider Switching Vendors
Depending on the structure of your supply chain, you may want to consider switching vendors. Once you’ve created a supply chain strategy, improved communication, developed automated processes, and begun using new technology you may find your supply chain still needs attention. That means it’s time to monitor your vendor performance.
Logistical procedures are a lot like traffic—some areas flow smoothly and quickly and other areas are slow logjams. Identifying links in your chain that are common problem areas can help you increase efficiency. If a vendor is disorganized it can lead to bottlenecks that grind supply efficiency to a halt. If these slow areas are consistently linked to one vendor or supplier it may be time to take your business elsewhere.
Find Like-Minded Partners
No business is independent—that means you need to find like-minded partners to help you complete your supply chain. When negotiating contracts with vendors, suppliers, and other partners ensure they share your vision of service and efficiency.
QLess Can Help
Let’s face it: managing supply chain efficiency is hard work. Developing a supply chain strategy and implementing it can be a time-intensive task.
Our innovative queue management solution can help you increase productivity, monitor real-time data across your supply chain, and supply virtual updates to every member of your organization—whether on a work site, in a delivery vehicle, or on a sales floor.
Request a demo today to see how QLess can help you improve your supply chain efficiency.