Infographic of a supply chain.

6 Keys to Improving Supply Chain Efficiency

Supply chain efficiency is a key component of business success. A delay at the beginning of the supply chain creates a domino effect that impacts every process afterward. Companies need to make it a priority to optimize their operations and align them with their strategic goals. The good news is that there are many ways you can improve your supply chain efficiency today, no matter where your company sits on the spectrum –  from small to multinational. 

Start With a Customer-Centric Mindset.

The first step to improving supply chain efficiency is to focus on the customer. This means creating a customer-centric mindset and behavior throughout your organization.

Customer-centricity involves listening to customers, understanding their needs and pain points, anticipating customer demand, and using data to understand and predict customer behavior. Customer satisfaction should be first in mind at every point during the supply chain process from order placement (e.g., during sales) to order processing (e.g., during fulfillment) — and even after a product is delivered (e.g., post-sales). An efficient supply chain operates on happy customers.

Evaluate Your Inventory Management Processes.

Your supply chain is a complex web of interconnected systems that act as buffers between the production point and your customers. When you’re not aware of the limitations of these different systems, it can become difficult to pinpoint where to make improvements.

The first step in improving your supply chain efficiency is accurately understanding all the processes that make up your entire supply chain. This includes mapping out each step from procurement through end delivery, identifying any bottlenecks within each stage, and then determining what needs to change to get around them.

There are several tools available for analyzing inventory management processes within your company’s supply chain (some software-based and others manual based). Before choosing one approach over another, assess how much time would be required on staff members’ part doing their jobs manually — and what skill sets these individuals possess.

Put Technological Solutions To Use. 

You can increase your supply chain efficiency through the use of technology. Technology can identify and eliminate bottlenecks, optimize your supply chain, manage inventory levels, and increase supply chain visibility

Technological solutions can come in the form of hardware and software. Automation with warehousing can reduce time and the chances of error that affect the bottom line

Tracking your reusable assets, for example, using RFID technology from a supply chain management solution provider like Real Time Intelligence can reduce those operational costs by informing you of where those assets are at all times. The cost savings from not constantly purchasing new reusable assets could be enormous, depending on the amount that your business utilizes.  

Track the Right Metrics.

Tracking metrics may seem obvious, but companies struggle with it more than you’d think. Metrics should be both meaningful to your business and correlate to your overall goals. All critical operations affect the supply chain in some way, from creating a quality product (customer satisfaction) to getting through production as quickly as possible — without sacrificing quality (efficiency). For example, a manufacturing company wanting to analyze its efficiency can collect data on the number of packages that ship each day, but it would be even more beneficial to track the amount of time spent at each stage of the process. After collecting these metrics, managers can analyze the data and determine which processes can be more efficient. While this seems like common sense advice, many companies out there collect real-time data on all sorts of things with little value in meeting their goals.

Collaborate With Providers, Partners, and Suppliers.

The more you can work with your suppliers, the better off your company will be. Collaboration is about sharing knowledge, expertise, and resources. It’s also about sharing information and data. 

Work with your suppliers to know who is the most dependable and trustworthy. Make sure you’re also working with multiple suppliers — if one of them is experiencing disruptions or shortages of raw materials, you can always route your operations to another supplier to avoid excessive lead times

Forming strong partnerships with your suppliers and taking the initiative can put your business at a competitive advantage when streamlining your acquisition process. 

Leverage a 3PL’s Expertise and Technology.

Efficiency is about more than just cost reduction. It’s about using the right tools to meet customer expectations every time. If you need an effective supply chain solution, don’t be afraid to employ the assistance of third-party logistics management tools. 

Asset tracking software, such as eP360 from RT Intel, can monitor and track the location, status, and environment while tracking your assets through your facility and into the next. 

Improve Your Supply Chain Performance

The supply chain is a complex system in which all aspects of the business interact. As such, improvements to one aspect are not necessarily limited to that aspect alone — they can affect other parts of the supply chain as well. By taking a customer-centric approach and implementing new technologies (with timely decision-making), businesses can ensure that their whole operation runs as smoothly and efficiently as possible.

Real Time Intelligence can improve your supply chain efficiency with our asset tracking technology and software solutions. Contact us today to get started!