Supply chain management is a hefty challenge. This is mainly due to the extensive network of people, technologies, and companies all working together to ensure the design and distribution of products is as efficient as possible.
To successfully collaborate and communicate with everyone involved in the entire supply chain process, from getting raw materials to create products to engaging with suppliers to delivering products to customers, you must have an intentional management strategy. There are tried-and-true supply chain models such as just-in-time (JIT) inventory management and, more recently, the evolving digital supply chain.
JIT has been popular with the electronics industry but left partners ill-prepared for a sudden spike in semiconductor demand followed by an ongoing global chip shortage. Some experts have advised a “just in case” inventory model to supplement JIT; others have placed an emphasis on improving information-sharing amongst supply partners, i.e., the digital supply chain.
Just-in-time inventory management
Successful supply chain management relies heavily on how well you oversee your inventory specifically. JIT inventory management is an excellent inventory control solution that helps reduce overspending on warehouse space, products, and materials.
With JIT inventory management, you get the precise amount of inventory you need only when you need it, improving efficiency and making it easier to adjust to the ever-changing supply chain.
A robust commerce management software is needed to support JIT inventory management. You’ll be able to monitor inventory closely and make intelligent forecasts with the data collected.
If you don’t need a lot of warehouse space and are working with a smaller catalog of products, JIT inventory management could be a good choice for ensuring your supply chain is operating at its most functional.
Smart supply chains
Although there are supply chain operations out there that still do the majority of their work manually, it’s in your best interest to explore the option to digitize your supply chain management entirely.
That’s essentially what a smart supply chain is — a digitized system of tech tools like artificial intelligence (AI), the internet of things (IoT), the cloud, blockchain technologies, and supply control towers. This tech works together to streamline logistics and the team’s workflow.
In addition, a smart supply chain uses data analytics to effectively process and analyze massive datasets to account for potential disruptions and risks in your supply chain. This can be monumental in ensuring products get to where they need to go on time.
It’s also critical to ensure you can continually adapt to ever-changing customer needs, supplier demands, and the ebb and flow of the industry.
Although a smart supply chain aligns with our increasingly digital world, businesses mustn’t rely entirely on technology to run their operations. Because these tech tools are intertwined at every turn, all it takes is one malfunction to disrupt the entire workflow. Instead, train your employees to work alongside technology to achieve the most logistically sound, accurate, and efficient supply chain operation.
Implementation of either of these styles of supply chain management should come after carefully considering your unique team’s needs and skillsets, as well as your business’s overall operational goals.
Work with your team to compile a list of potentially effective management methods and theories you want to apply to your supply chain. Narrow that list down to the top three choices for making your supply chain more efficient and customer-friendly.
Then, choose the first supply chain style you want to try and create a timeline for incorporating it and the necessary technology into your current workflow. And remember, as the supply chain industry evolves, so to should your management methods.