How Can You Future-Proof Your Supply Chain Management Efforts?
The “future” of logistics is happening faster than anticipated. All of those “five-year predictions” we saw last year are suddenly being implemented in the past few months at unprecedented speeds as companies strive eagerly to implement better supply chain management efforts for the future. COVID-19 is teaching us to expect the unexpected, prioritize risk management, and create future-proof strategies for the supply chain.
During the pandemic, too many companies realized they weren’t able to keep up amidst disruptions or changes, especially when it comes to the supply chain. Since the supply chain is the crux of every product-driven company, failing to address these disruptions swiftly and efficiently could potentially result in the breakdown of the entire business.
Now is the time to transform business models and strategies to innovate new solutions that future-proof the supply chain. What’s most critical when preparing your logistics for the future?
In this article, we’re focusing on the goals that will best future-proof your business. If you want to know what technologies will be the most critical in the supply chain in upcoming years, we also recommend you check out some of our innovative tech solutions or even schedule a consultation and demo of our RedwoodConnect 2.0 platform.
Emphasize Agile Supply Chain Management Efforts
How agile is your supply chain right now? Do you find it’s easy to respond to change or new directions? Are you able to address disruptions, like a pandemic or extreme weather or upstream failures, with ease and ultimately moderate to high success? Does your business have the data it needs on-hand to support effective decision making? Are your leaders able to make quick decisions and communicate/manage change well?
Most companies can’t honestly answer “yes” to these questions. The traditional supply chain is clunky, and it tends to lag behind in terms of innovation. A future-proof supply chain, on the other hand, needs to be flexible enough to adapt to the ever-changing logistics landscape.
When it’s time to create a vision for what your supply chain looks like, “agile and adaptable” should be at the top of your objectives. This means implementing revolutionary technology, encouraging communicative and strong leaders, collaborating between partners, and designing a change management strategy that works on a micro and macro level.
Create a Collaborative Network
Second on your list of objectives should be collaboration. Nothing you try to implement will stick unless all supply chain partners are on board. The greatest competitive advantage is a strong logistics network that can work towards a highly leveraged production process from procurement through manufacturing and transportation all the way to the customer satisfaction survey.
Everyone will tell you that technology and digitalization is the wave of the future, and they’re right. But if your supply chain partners aren’t leveraging the same technologies as you, even the most adept advancements will be as useless as a floppy disk. All parties need to innovate together in order to deliver the greatest value for consumers. You want a continuous, unified digital ecosystem that’s integrated with technologies that facilitate a strong supply chain network.
Leverage the Right Data
Big data is the future of logistics, but too many companies are trying to implement data processing software without a direction in mind. The goal of big data is to enable strong collaboration between partners (like through the use of blockchain) and to utilize predictive analytics to anticipate demands and shifts. You want to ensure you’re using the right data in the most effective ways to facilitate real-time decision making that has a genuine impact on business.
If you try to implement every digital trend, you’ll end up falling short in all of them. Determine what kinds of data you need to collect, analyze, and leverage in order to meet your specific key strategic objectives.
Learn more about big data with the following resources:
- Driving Logistics Forward with Data
- How Big Data Analytics Can Improve Your Supply Chain
- What’s the Impact of Big Data on the Supply Chain and Transportation Industries?
- A Look at the Benefits of Big Data Collection
Implement Self-Updating Technologies
There are a lot of new technologies that are revolutionizing logistics and can help future-proof your supply chain. But purchasing some software isn’t going to be enough to truly protect your business moving forward.
There are two key aspects to leveraging any sort of technology:
First, your employees and partners need buy-in. If you don’t manage the change during the implementation of the technology, the tech won’t be used to its fullest extent. Check out our resources to learn how to implement a TMS and other technologies for the greatest success.
Second, you want to invest in technology that is going to grow with you and grow with the times. If you implement today’s tech, it’s already outdated by tomorrow. You need digitalized systems that are going to update regularly to consistently offer the most innovative and advanced functions.
The Redwood Logistics innovation team will help you create a custom, flexible tech strategy so you always have the upper hand with tomorrow’s tools.
Implement a Risk Management Strategy
Businesses across the globe are in distress following the pandemic. That’s because most didn’t have a way to prepare for, manage, and respond to risk. Moving forward, a risk management strategy has to be an essential part of your forward-thinking strategy if you want to be able to compete in an unpredictable world.
Here are some ways to implement a risk management strategy for your business, particularly the operations side:
- Get a risk management team on board. You can hire a third-party consultant or create a team in-house. Either way, risk management should become just as important as HR, operations, and sales teams.
- Use predictive analytics to mitigate risks. Big data can help expect the unexpected and find flaws in the system, like pinpointing fraud or lost productivity. Use historical data to anticipate what’s coming next (and how to respond to it).
- Leverage artificial intelligence that has the capability to predict challenges and make responsive decisions in real time.
- Consider physical and cyber threats to your business. No company, big or small, is immune.
- Create an agile supply chain that can easily and effectively respond to any and all challenges that arise.
- Learn more with this HBR article about the new framework of risk management.
Promote Sustainability Practices
The turn of the 2020s decade is ushering in a wave of social, environmental, and safety ethics. Consumers are growing more educated about sustainability and they’re standing up for what they believe in. The companies that don’t acknowledge the need for sustainable practices aren’t going to be able to compete and will quickly get left in the dust.
We always say it’s best to get ahead, rather than being forced to “apologize” after the fact. Focusing on sustainability and social practices now will future-proof your business by minimizing the negative impact on the environment and on human wellbeing, while promoting a strong and healthy brand that can endure for years to come.
Learn about sustainability and social practices to incorporate in your logistics with the following resources:
- The Path to a Greener Supply Chain
- Corporate Social Responsibility Efforts in the Logistics Industry
- Green Shipping Practices in the Trucking Industry
- Why It’s Not Easy Being Green – Challenges the Supply Chain Faces
- What Are Sustainable Procurement Programs?
We have to refer back to #2 on this list: collaborate with your network. All of your supply chain partners need to be on board with the same sustainability objectives and supply chain management efforts in order to see true recognition, success, and change in this area.
We’re moving towards a more caring, sustainable, and socially responsible world. Be a pioneer for ethical logistics, and you’ve guaranteed your business a foothold in the future.
Define a Vision for the Future
You can’t future-proof your supply chain if you don’t know what you want the future to look like for your business.
What should be in your vision for the future of your logistics team? Everything we’ve gone over in this article:
- Agile supply chain management efforts can lead to a faster response and adaptation to quickly changing demands of the industry
- A collaborative network of partners working towards a shared vision
- Big data analytics that are implemented with key performance indicators in mind
- Technologies that update consistently and frequently
- A risk management strategy that anticipates every possible supply chain disruption
- An emphasis on long-term sustainability and social ethics
All partners and leaders should work together to define a roadmap to the destination in the future. The supply chain is everchanging, sometimes shifting even by the week. We need to move beyond just simple methods in order to lower costs and improve productivity. The supply chain must utilize new methods of innovation, collaboration, and technology in order to stay competitive.
That’s What we do at Redwood Logistics
We create customized service and technology solutions that help you move, manage, and innovate your supply chain. Our goal is to make your business as proactive and future-proof as possible, so you’re always one step ahead of the market.
Is your business ready to take on the big, bright future of logistics? Ready to implement next-level supply chain management efforts? Get in touch for a free consultation, customized to your business’s current standing and future objectives. We look forward to hearing from you to future-proof your business together.