Today's supply chain involves multiple, independent steps, each of which must operate without error to ensure the efficient movement of freight. Professional companies including manufacturers, distributors, retailers, and more achieve supply chain superiority through effective management of strategic, operational, and activation strategies.
The biggest problem is: How do you define 'effective'?
With multiple cogs in the supply chain management wheel, shippers must find creative ways of integrating supply chain management techniques and procedures to reduce mistakes, dependence on resources, or spend excessive amounts of money.
One of the best teachers of effective management procedures and techniques is Stephen Covey. In his book, “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People” Covey states that it typically takes 21 days or 21 unique inputs to create a habit. This philosophy is a living example of the concept of slow and steady. The main problem that most supply chain managers have, though, is not having the patience to develop the right habits.
This leads to increased mistakes and sets up an opportunity for failure.
To avoid this, professional supply chain managers integrate their supply chain management process into three specific sections.
Before you ship - you've got to build the platform. This is the most fundamental concept of strategic management.
This level develops the building-blocks, such as picking supply chain partners, vendors, and carriers. It also includes finding the right warehousing options, establishing shipping and receiving expectations, goals, and objectives. Strategic planning often involves the input of key leaders and stakeholders - that is, if the company wants to achieve supply chain dominance.
Once the platform and strategic side has been developed, it's time to get tactical.
In this step, the shipper will begin to build the team that helps them move products from point A to point B. This includes hiring employees, setting up shipping hours and commitment levels, developing schedules for receiving raw supplies, manufacturing, or selling products.
Most importantly, the tactical supply chain management process reviews the entire program to ensure they are meeting or exceeding customer demands.
The final phase of supply chain management is, of course, activation.
This is when a retailer, manufacturer, distributor, or anyone requiring shipping puts substance behind the planning. During this activation phase, supply chain managers will create controls and procedures that allow them to schedule shipments, follow up with customers, and ensure all supply chain functions are handled effectively.
Why Communication is the Most Important Attribute for Supply Chain Management
Everybody understands the value of 'staying in your lane'. But, communication with other stakeholders or leaders with a supply chain-specific company is just as critical.
Most integrated supply chain management programs fail due to a lack of clear and transparent communication. There are so many moving parts in each phase of supply chain management, which increases the need for all segments to communicate with each other.
For example, when a company is focusing on the strategic side, and are picking a warehouse to host their business, they need to consider both ends of the spectrum. If they select a warehouse that is large enough to hold all supplies or complete the manufacturing of products, it's also important to pick one that has the right amount of shipping and receiving doors. It's also crucial to verify that the warehouse is employee-friendly, with the right support systems including AC, clean water and bathrooms that ensure your people are taken care of.
How a Third-Party Logistics Can Help
The modern-day 3PL understands the concept of Integrated Supply Chain Management and can create a plan that ensures the complete supply chain operation is as efficient as possible. A leading 3PL like Redwood Logistics has helped new and existing companies who have a need for moving or receiving freight optimize their network for several years.
If you operate a business within the supply chain and would like to activate an Integrated Supply Chain Management program, reach out to Redwood Logistics.