Supply Chain Management For Dummies
Supply chain management is a complex process, especially given the complex nature of our global economy at the moment. For growing organizations, developing a supply chain management strategy can be daunting.
However, it’s crucial to have a supply chain strategy in place as your company grows. Effective supply chain management saves time and money for your organization and keeps customer satisfaction rates high.
At Unilog, we help our clients develop global supply chain solutions. As a 4PL provider, we work with shipping partners and use advanced technology to get products from point A to point B quickly and safely. In this article, we’ll discuss some key supply chain management concepts that every organization should be aware of.
What is Supply Chain Management?
The supply chain is a network of resources, service providers, individuals, and organizations that work together to produce and deliver products. The supply chain can be broken down into several individual processes, each of which are crucial to delivering the product to the end customer. These individual processes need to work together harmoniously in order for the supply chain to be successful.
Supply chain management is the act of constructing and overseeing the supply chain. Supply chain management is an ongoing process, as supply chains need to be continuously adjusted to work most efficiently.
What is Logistics?
As you develop a supply chain management strategy, logistics is a term you will hear frequently. Logistics is a broad concept that refers to the organization and management of a complex operation. However, in a business context, many people use the phrases “supply chain management” and “logistics” interchangeably.
Basic Supply Chain Components
The supply chain can be broken down into five major components. Each component is an equally important part of a functioning supply chain.
Planning is the first component of supply chain management, and it supports all of the other components. When planning, you’ll need to determine exactly how the other four components will come together.
Where will you source your raw materials from? How will you make and store your products? Do you need to work with manufacturing partners, or can you make them in-house? What shipping partners and delivery mechanisms work best? These are all things you’ll need to keep in mind during the planning stage.
This is the process of obtaining initial products or raw materials from vendors. When selecting vendors, supply chain managers will need to consider a variety of factors, including vendor location, material quality, and cost efficiency. Many organizations use multiple sources to create redundancy in their supply chain.
This component looks different for every organization and depends on the products you are selling. Some organizations make their own products entirely from scratch. Others work with manufacturing partners for some or all of the product creation process. Many companies also source finished products from wholesale suppliers and then enhance or repackage them in some way.
One very important part of the making process is managing inventory levels. You’ll need to know how much product you have at any given time and have a safe, reliable place to store it. You’ll also need to produce product at consistent rates relative to demand to avoid running out of stock.
This is the process of getting your finished product to the end customer. This can be particularly challenging if you’re shipping overseas, require fast delivery times for your products, or are shipping sensitive items that require extra care. You’ll need to determine what shipping carriers to work with and how to track your shipments to ensure that they arrive on time to the correct destination.
Returning is the final component of the supply chain. This component requires you to determine how you want to process returned items. Can they be put back into the supply chain or recycled in some way, or do they need to be disposed of? What does the returns process entail for the customer?
Getting Started With Supply Chain Management
There are many different steps to consider when it comes to supply chain management. Here are some important things to consider when developing your supply chain strategy.
- Finding a logistics partner: Managing your entire supply chain on your own is very challenging for most growing companies. A logistics partner can solve supply chain challenges for you, giving you more time to focus on other aspects of your business.
- Forecasting supply and demand: This is one of the most challenging parts of supply chain management for many organizations, especially in recent years. One way to forecast supply and demand is by using predictive technologies to assess trends.
- Inventory management: As part of your supply chain management strategy, you’ll need to keep your inventory levels consistent. This means adjusting your manufacturing schedule to provide appropriate lead times as well as building safety stock for periods of high demand or low supply. Many people choose to work with multiple suppliers to create redundancy during periods of sociopolitical unrest or natural disasters.
- Finding shipping solutions: When selecting shipping methods for your products, you’ll want to look for a balance of economy, efficiency, and eco-friendliness.
- Tracking: You’ll want to know where your shipments are at all times, especially if you’re shipping globally or are shipping sensitive products. Work with your shipping partners to implement a tracking solution that you can use to monitor your shipments at all times.
- Returns management: If your company accepts returns, you’ll need to develop a system for processing them.
The global supply chain has struggled with many unique challenges over the past several years, and it is difficult for organizations to navigate these challenges individually. As a 4PL company, Unilog provides custom supply chain solutions to assist organizations through this challenging time. We know that supply chain delays can have real-life consequences for your customers, which is why we use advanced technology to make your supply chain more efficient.