3 things you need to get right in supply chain management

May 7, 2014

Supply chain management is complicated for a few different reasons, but one of the most important is the relatively high rate of turnover within it. The responsibility of managing a supply chain is more likely to be passed between different individuals in the same organisation, or increasingly made the responsibility of a 3PL, than many other business functions. This can mean that a new manager is handed the reins with little understanding of his or her predecessor’s strategy or aims.

In order to avoid disruptions and achieve gains in efficiency and reliability quickly, we have identified three key areas that a supply chain manager cannot afford to ignore.

1) Define the scope of your project

Unless you define the scope of your supply chain management project early, and quite rigidly, it is prone to failure in several ways. Changing deliverables, outputs and goals can cause mission creep, and project failure as it becomes too large to manage and much more costly than it was envisioned. Its goals can also be too vague to guide meaningful action. Formal scoping meetings are highly advisable before and during implementation.

2) Get buy-ins from the right people

Supply chain management projects can fail when the leaders who will be relied upon to do the real heavy lifting of the project are not given a significant voice in the formulation of the goals and overall strategy of the project. Identify the stakeholders for the project during the planning phase, make sure there is open communication between all of them, and make sure they are all aware of potential roadblocks you may face. Above all, make sure all of the stakeholders actually believe the project can and will succeed. No matter how well-meaning, or willing to follow orders someone is, they cannot give full effort to a project they believe is irrelevant or doomed.

3) Establish and maintain the visibility of your project and its projected gains

Many projects are scrapped while they are still on track and viable because the visibility of their effectiveness and expected returns are lost. Like any business project, a supply chain management scheme must be seen to be successful to remain successful. That is why it is of critical importance to identify important milestones of your project, and make sure the right people know when you hit them, as well as what benefits they present for the company. Even if your project is perfectly on track, a lack of visible progress can lose key stakeholders’ enthusiasm and backing, and doom the project.

Of course, there is more to it than that. Supply chain management is a complicated field that demands both talent and experience, which is why more and more companies are outsourcing supply chain management to 3PLs such as Fairway Fulfilment & Logistics, who have the experience and focus to bring meaningful success to even the most challenging projects.

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