December 5, 2022

Simplifying Supply Chains

Shailja Sharma

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Delivery delays and shortages can be extremely frustrating for business owners and customers alike. As a business owner, your inability to deliver a product on time can jeopardize your relationships. The threat of reputational damage and competitors filling the gaps you leave behind can give you many sleepless nights. You may be asking yourself how you can take control of this situation and be proactive?

Future-Proof your Supply Chain

Start by evaluating how complex your supply chain is. Remember, complexity destroys efficiency. The more complex the supply chain, the more opportunities for things to go wrong. You can contract an analyst to carry out a thorough review of your supply chain and recommend strategies to simplify your supply chain processes.

Operating in global markets can lead to complex workflows, different compliance requirements, and many vulnerable links in the chain. During the COVID-19 pandemic and in the aftermath of this global problem, snarled supply chains had many adverse effects and have even contributed to the rise in global inflation that we are witnessing today. Tangled, complex supply chains need to give way to simple supply chains in the future. Supply chain simplification is a straightforward concept in theory. It essentially means making the processes involved in supplying a product or service to customers less complicated.

There has been a shift to regional and local supply chain bolstering following the global disruptions. This is the perfect time to future proof your supply chain by maximizing any opportunities to simplify your supply chain and involve more regional and local players.

Minimal Wastage

Simplifying your business processes and seeking to eliminate wastage can help you to kill two birds with one stone. There is an increased call for responsible corporate citizenship in the wake of the devastation caused by climate change. By streamlining your supply chains and delivering minimal waste, you can improve your performance and the public perception of your company.

Stripping back the steps in your supply chain can lead to more consistent quality, lower operation costs, and higher customer satisfaction. Removing unnecessary procedures also removes the associated costs, which further increases your profit margin.

Map Out your Supply Chain

By physically mapping out your supply chain you can get a bird’s eye view of how it works. If this seems daunting, use a specialist to conduct a high-level audit of supply chain processes and highlight areas that can be tweaked. What are the opportunities to optimize and shorten lead times? Which unnecessary costs can be eliminated? Do your due diligence and you will reap the rewards in the future.

Technology is on your Side

Investing in artificial intelligence (AI) and automation can reduce human error and help your business to manage complexity. Automating operational tasks can free employees’ time to focus on value generation as well as reducing the risk of human error.

Technology solutions such as real-time tracking and barcoding can help you to monitor your goods at the touch of a button. These solutions typically generate reports which can also save time. Investing in technology will save your business money in the long run by helping you simplify the supply chain process and reduce inefficiencies in your organization. Manual data entry is outdated and inefficient.

Clear the Clutter

Data is king, but only when it is relevant to the situation at hand. Data saturation can overcomplicate things. Start by identifying what your business objectives are and the data required for them to be achieved and measured. This will ensure you collect data that can be meaningfully applied. Furthermore, data needs to be analyzed correctly, so invest in the infrastructure for data to be collected, stored, and analyzed properly.

Optimize Logistics

Integrated and intelligent logistics technology can benefit your business. Real-time shipment tracking provides visibility and operational control that can help you make decisions and improve your relationships with customers. When customers know when they can expect deliveries it helps them to plan more effectively. Additionally, cloud-based inventory management software integrates with other cloud-based software to allow accurate and timely flow of data. Ensure your technology solutions are integrated and work together to prevent bottle-necks.

Managing your supply chains efficiently can make or break your company. Invest in gaining the knowledge and expertise to improve your supply chains. We live in a rapidly changing world. In order to survive, you must be adaptable, agile, and innovative. When you take a proactive approach to your business and anticipate problems in advance and adapt accordingly, you can outshine your competitors.

About the Supply Chains Management in Africa Programme

A growing body of evidence suggests that the structure of supply chains and the choices that companies make regarding their level of fragmentation and geographic spread have a material impact on financial performance. This course is designed to help you design and manage supply chains that boost profitability and improve your firm’s performance.

from 14th to 25th November we trained the first group of the Supply Chains Management in Africa Programme. During the 2-week training, participants learnt the key concepts that underpin supply chain excellence. Further they were able to gain tools and frameworks to design supply chains and manage them for value creation and enhanced performance. By the end of the Programme, the participants had knowledge and insights on how supply chain configuration and management could be a source of differentiation and sustainable competitive advantage.

Article by Shailja Sharma, SBS Faculty Member and Leadership and Career Coach

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