Supply Chain Management Checklist for 2021

Supply Chain Management Checklist

Starting a new year off right means having taken a careful look at all aspects of your business, evaluating the previous year’s successes and failures, and approaching the upcoming challenges fully prepared. 2020 was a long, strange year for all businesses, and no one is more aware of that fact than the supply chain and logistics industry. 

For a better, smoother, and decidedly less chaotic 2021, take a moment to review this supply chain management checklist and be assured that your year goes accordingly. 


A Supply Chain Management Checklist Begins with a Year-End Analysis

Before moving forward with a strategy for the year ahead, you’ll need to spend some time on reviewing and analyzing the outcome of the previous year.

2020 presented some unusual challenges- and there may still be ripple-effects associated with overcoming those obstacles that will need to be taken into consideration as you lay out your plans for 2021.  


Technology and AI Check-in

After spending the past year solving some of the most complex challenges facing the supply chain and logistics industry in recent memory, you may have realized that the technology solutions and platforms your supply chain utilizes have gaps, weaknesses, or areas that need strengthening.

Take some time to deeply consider options for further streamlining and smoothing out your processes and avoid unnecessary snags in the coming year. Technology and AI solutions can make a huge difference- so make sure you and your team are taking advantage of the best tech fits for your needs.  


Communications Review

In an environment where limited face-to-face interaction is likely to remain the norm for the foreseeable future, creative communications solutions are vital to maintaining processes at optimal functionality. The finer points of communication are more critical than ever as we seek to maintain complex, interconnected supply chains while operating in isolation or limited groups.

Make sure your communications are clear, consistent, and that you’re finding ways to stay connected with your teams, suppliers, shippers, and other partners- and keeping everyone engaged and on the same page. 


Accurate Inventory Information and Solutions

Typical approaches to supply chain management may no longer work if your company is working with a reduced inventory budget as a result of 2020 outcomes. In other cases, there may be an unexpected excess of inventory- many retailers are still attempting to offload products that experienced critical demand shifts as a result of travel restrictions, stay-at-home orders, and the like.

When considering the strategy for 2021, an accurate and complete understanding and approach to inventory shifts is necessary. Creative solutions and brainstorming will be key components to success in the coming year.  


Clear Messaging and Complete Plans

Having a clear and complete plan in place, and communicating that plan with all team members and supply chain partners will go a long way towards laying the foundation for a smooth, profitable year. It’s also important to have contingency plans in place, and to make certain that those are communicated just as clearly.

While data allows us a certain degree of predictability, if anything, 2020 showed us that predictions won’t always go as planned, and that flexibility and responsiveness are the hallmarks of businesses that will thrive in adversity. Responsiveness is vital- but it only works if the responses are clearly conveyed to the entire team. Everyone should be aware of the messaging, the expectations, and the plans to follow in the event that a shift needs to be made.   


Plan for Routine Check-ins

Once the plans are laid, the messages constructed and conveyed, the tech upgraded, and the relationships renewed, you’ll need to have a routine in place for consistently touching base with teams and partners to see where everyone stands as the year progresses, making adjustments where needed. Data analysis is fantastic, but nothing beats communication. A successful and highly functional supply chain isn’t “set it and forget it.” Keep checking in, seeing how each team and function is doing, and you’ll be able to find and address snags or slowdowns as they happen- and before things snowball.

Taking the time to lay out plans as the year begins, revisiting the lessons and challenges presented by the previous year, smoothing out communications, fine-tuning messaging, and working with resources to create a collaborative and interconnected supply chain will prep any supply chain management team for success in the coming year.        


Want to keep up on all the latest logistics industry news and tips?  Sign up for our newsletter to get our best content sent straight to your inbox every month.