Supply Chain Scorecards: A Tool for the Times

Advanced technologies like blockchain and AI have captured widespread interest with the benefits they promise to bring to logistics operations. But, for all the promise these appear to hold, there are proven enhancement-focused tools already available – in particular, scorecards – that supply chain managers should take full advantage right now to ensure optimized performance across all supply chain functions.

Delivering expanding assessments

Scorecards were originally developed primarily as a means for providing actionable insights into specific areas, such as pick accuracy, or for reducing damage. And, of course, scorecards still deliver on these critical needs.

Now, however, they’re evolving into a multi-metric assessment tool aimed at equipping manufacturers with the information needed to deliver the best product to their consumers with the greatest possible efficiency.

Flexible, customizable and easily digested, scorecards can be configured to measure both logistics and supply chain performance as well as manufacturing and packaging. They deliver near real-time measurement around a host of material conditions including pallet condition, case damage, platform fit and stretchwrap practices. As a result, scorecards enable supply chain managers to clearly understand existing operational deltas and enable subsequent implementation of procedural improvements for ensuring better product protection and, ultimately, increased customer satisfaction through higher quality products delivered at less cost.

Not only can scorecards measure the effectiveness and efficiency of those operations executed by the manufacturer but also better assess the performance of 3PLs currently under contract. With these insights, managers can make more informed decisions regarding vendor retention.

Addressing consumer-driven demands

Understanding and addressing – as quickly and completely as possible – issues within the supply chain has never been more important as consumer expectations around quality have never been greater and shoppers’ brand loyalty has never been more difficult to maintain.

As consumers are actively engaging with those brands that can most quickly help them solve a problem or address a need – regardless of past purchase history – it’s imperative that manufacturers maintain optimal logistical operations, so they can position themselves as a “go to” provider and earn buyers’ repeat business.

And, now, with the growth opportunities resulting from the explosion in e-commerce, supply chain management has become increasingly complex as perishable food products may be shipping with a doggie bed and a table lamp.

With traditional supply chain bumping up against the unique requirements of e-commerce fulfillment, actively measuring and benchmarking product-condition management throughout the supply chain is essential if manufacturers are going to successfully meet these new, emerging demands.

Providing a holistic perspective

Being genuinely introspective is not always comfortable but for manufacturers truly committed to increasing efficiency, cutting costs and reducing unsaleables all while satisfying customers, scorecards are essential.

Delivering explicit and detailed data, scorecards (when executed properly) provide a candid and comprehensive look into the essential elements of the supply chain that impact customer satisfaction – and the bottom line.

Capturing and unpacking key metrics that impact customer satisfaction are the first steps toward ensuring that satisfaction, but objectivity and accuracy are paramount, and this cannot be stressed enough. That’s not to say that producers can’t (or don’t) accurately self-assess but the reality is that, in most cases, the scorecards used in self-assessments are singular in scope and, while measuring performance in one particular area, do not provide a holistic perspective on performance across inter-related activities.

Best-practice scorecards look at a variety of functions in place at multiple facilities across a manufacturer’s entire network so that individual facility performance can be assessed and then benchmarked against other facilities in the network. In addition, scorecards that are managed/measured by an independent third party can provide a manufacturer with comparative benchmarks against other operators/operations in the same industry.

Scorecards aren’t new. Or exciting. (To most people, anyway.) And they’re not likely to get a headline mention in any of the tech pubs. But the insights they provide, the enhancements they enable and the return on investment they deliver make them essential for improving a 21st century supply chain. Right now.

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