Supply Chain Operations, Processes and Planning
Supply chain management operations govern the overall structure of how a business plans, creates, receives, and fulfills products.
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Often referred to as OSCM (operations and supply chain management), it involves monitoring, maintaining, and improving a wide spectrum of both internal and collaborative processes.
For a company to build a large following of loyal customers, it needs to build a solid relationship with each and every one of the people or organizations it does business with.
As with any type of relationship, the foundation has to be communication and trust. Regarding communication, suppliers need to be transparent with all information that may impact the customer in any way. As for trust, the customer needs to be confident that the supplier will follow through on their end of the deal.
Customer relationship management, then, intertwines with supply chain management in two key ways:
While the bulk of supply chain management processes occur “behind the scenes,” each of these processes ultimately impacts the customer. By keeping the customer in mind as you improve your supply chain processes, you’ll ensure that any changes you make will provide a better experience for them.
Customer service management takes the more abstract concepts involved with customer relationship management, and develops a concrete plan to actually put these ideas into action.
That said, customer service management involves defining how your team will:
Again, supply chain management and customer service management go hand-in-hand: an issue in one area often means an issue in the other. For example, if a delivery is held up in any way, you’ll need to know the best way to solve the problem from the customer’s perspective.
Customer service issues are inevitable, especially when it comes to the unpredictable nature of supply chains. Rather than taking these issues as they come, you need to have a firm plan in place for dealing with them when and if they do.
Demand forecasting is a key element in planning a supply chain strategy, and in turn determining the agility and responsiveness of a business to fluctuating demand.
With demand volatility at an all-time high, there is no ongoing “standard” for most businesses—which is why demand planning and inventory optimization are a necessity.
Creating a systematic process for forecasting helps businesses to do the following:
All of the above contribute to a more efficient supply chain, increased sales, and improved customer satisfaction.
Modern order fulfillment revolves heavily around the use of technology. With automation at the forefront of eCommerce, consumers can now place orders at the touch of a button — without needing anyone from your team to walk them through the process.
If information regarding incoming orders isn’t properly communicated to those responsible for supply chain-related duties, they aren’t going to be able to fulfill these duties to the best of their ability.
Obviously, the worst-case scenario involves your fulfillment team completely overlooking orders as they come in from your customers. Needless to say, this can cause even the most loyal customers to defect to a competing brand.
For example, if you don’t have a strategic plan in place for your picking, packing, and fulfillment processes, you might end up overusing your shipping materials, facing operational redundancies and obstacles, and increasing the inherent risk of fulfilling the order altogether.
On the other hand, improving order fulfillment benefits your overall supply chain in that you’ll be able to:
Manufacturing flow management refers to the processes involved in ensuring manufacturing of products occurs in a way that is economical and profitable.
Essentially, manufacturing flow management involves knowing how much of a given product will need to be produced at a given point in time—and creating just enough so as to not risk wasting inventory space, spoilage, etc.
Proper manufacturing flow management also decreases the potential for stock-outs due to insufficient orders on your company’s part.
Since this all deals with the initial stages of the supply chain, it should be clear that anything that occurs throughout these stages — good or bad — will affect all else that goes on throughout the supply chain moving forward.
Whether you are an eCommerce retailer or a regular stockist, supplier relationship management should hover near the top of your must-do list.
Because suppliers play a critical role in your business, it’s only right to treat them as a partner. A strong relationship with your suppliers can allow you to further streamline your supply chain, enhance your ability to deliver value to your customers, and improve your company’s bottom line.
Forging and solidifying relationships with your suppliers involves:
Open and honest communication: You need to make sure your suppliers know exactly what you need and expect from them, so they can easily tailor their services to these needs.
Forging a solid agreement: In turn, you need to be clear about the value your company brings to the table. This extends past contractual, on-paper agreements and majors on the overarching benefits your company will have on their business.
Developing a solid plan of attack: Forging a strong relationship isn’t something that just “happens.” Rather, you need to be systematic and strategic in how you engage with your suppliers to ensure a mutually-beneficial outcome for both parties.
The reason you sell the products you do in the first place is because your target customers have a need for them.
More accurately, your customers have a need for a product that delivers the value yours does. But, your individual customers’ needs will likely vary in many different ways — and it’s your job to ensure the product they receive from your company meets these various needs.
This may mean …
Whatever the case may be, where and how you differentiate your products for your customer segments or individual customers will have a huge impact on the rest of your supply chain.
For this reason, it’s vital that you make these individualized alterations as close to the end of the supply chain as possible.
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