5 Steps to Best Practice Supply Chain Management

Best practise supply chain is a journey, not a destination. No matter how good you are, you will never be able to say “I’ve built the perfect supply chain”. It is that ‘never being satisfied’ attitude that makes the best supply chains in the world just that.

Below is a 5 step process that I find works in every engagement, in every situation, in any industry from medical research to mining camps; in the office or in the warehouse. I hope it helps you on your supply chain journey.

1. Visibility – Build knowledge and visibility into your supply chain
Too often businesses have financial data and manufacturing data, but not supply chain data on KPIs that actually provide visibility on supply chain health and highlight issues. Engage staff and other stakeholders in understanding your current supply chain situation, with process mapping and other change management tools.

2. Control – Short-term fixes to get stability and quick wins
The simple fact is your customers won’t wait and your shareholders won’t invest in your long-term solutions unless you have control and stability in your current supply chain to prove you are worth buying from and investing in.

3. Design – What supply chain do you need to meet your organisational objectives?
The supply chain is an enabler for your company to achieve its objectives – so what are they and what do they need from the supply chain? What assets, people and processes are required and what are the gaps you need to fill?

4. Build – Put it all together
By now you have picked up some quick wins, your customers and shareholders are happy, you have a plan and you can execute it – well done, many businesses never get this far.  If you are at the build stage and have not properly completed steps 1, 2 and 3 be prepared to be disappointed with the result.
Remember that investing money, building assets and installing systems is only the start. It is the engagement and training of staff and testing the limits of your investment that adds the most value.

5. Continuously improve – Stay ahead of your competitors
Well done, you have finished this round of improvement so celebrate and immediately go back to step 1 and do it again. I’d love to say bask in the glow of your success for a while but your competitors are already copying or overtaking you.

What tips can you add on best practice supply chain management?

Matthew Crook is the Director of Engaging Success, a supply chain and operational optimisation advisory firm. Matthew applies his extensive management expertise in business process improvement to assist organisations at all levels in defining their vision, setting strategy, managing change, engaging suppliers and customers or facilitating projects to remove any roadblocks to success.

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