What supply chain resolutions are you making this year?
Another year is upon us and with it comes a new opportunity to do things differently; to do things better. No doubt you have things you didn’t get to last year, have ideas about what needs to change and maybe even have problems that keep you up at night. If you have been managing your supply chain the same way for a while, if your business is experiencing change and/or growth or if you simply know there has to be a better way, then now is the time to take action. After all, if you are not evolving, you are dying.
Before you can effectively and confidently transform any area of your supply chain, it is essential that you have good data. The best place to obtain this data is from your TMS. If you don’t have one, then look to your ERP. A good starting point is to review the areas that you are being evaluated on by your customers and management. This should include cost, service and quality. Look at these areas to develop your supply chain resolutions for 2017.
Explore areas that don’t get much attention—the big line items always get the most. But are you spending too much each month on areas like detention that just get approved with no plans to change behavior? Look for areas of waste and systematically go about eliminating it. It is not always about continuously driving down carrier rates. If capacity tightens this year, rates will go up. Have you reviewed consolidation opportunities lately or evaluated mode shifts to help drive down costs? Go beyond just broad cost metrics and dig into the details to further find ways to reduce costs. Identify a few areas that are ripe for the picking and assign them to the rising stars and hard chargers within your team—this will be great exposure for them and it will make your supply chain leaner.
Customers are getting more and more demanding in all industries. Make sure you know how well you are servicing your customers and that you have plans to improve poor performance. It is essential that you measure your providers and hold them to the high standards you agreed on. Part of this includes knowing what you require of them, but also what your role is in helping them succeed. A small change in your process might improve things for your providers, so ask them what in your process adds complexity for them. Also make sure you know what your customers want and need. You may be getting product to your customer the next day when they don’t need it for two or three days. This may be adding unnecessary costs to your supply chain.
Getting your products picked up on time and in a cost-effective manner doesn’t do any good if the product doesn’t arrive in the same condition or quantity that it left in. Work with carriers that you have confidence in. Quality applies to data as well. Are you receiving the necessary data from your vendors and carriers to allow you to plan properly and make good decisions? If not, identify the gaps and work to resolve them.
Start with things that you know you can manage and directly impact. Build momentum and get some immediate wins. Change takes time and energy. Make it a team effort and engage the key stakeholders. Visibly measure your progress so the team feels invested. Write down your ideas. Discuss them as a group. Be the leader you want to be and your organization needs you to be. Consciously drive change in 2017.
If you start early and stay focused, I think you’ll be pleased come December 31st.