Between COVID and the Suez Canal blockage, our supply chain is more precarious than we’ve ever experienced, which means it’s more important than ever to properly manage your supply chain. No one can predict everything, but you can use these tips to prepare your supply chain for whatever comes next.
Plan: Every successful project requires proper planning, and that’s as true of your supply chain as it is of every other aspect of your project. You need to know as soon as possible all the materials you’ll need for your project, how many of each one you’ll need, and what they’ll cost so you can account for it all in your budget.
Source: Once you know all the parts you need for your project, you’ll need to decide on sources for each one. Depending on the products you need, you might be able to get them all from the same place, or you might need to rely on different sources, in which case you’ll need to account for that in your planning phase. When you rely on different sources to provide different parts, you might have to wait longer for all the parts to arrive, which could delay the completion of your project if you fail to account for the possibility of those delays.
Make: Whether you acquired raw materials you need to refine before they can become part of the finished product, or parts that just need to be assembled together to make a whole product, all that needs to be accounted for when managing your supply chain. For example, you might need your raw materials to arrive sooner if you need time to refine them before you can start assembling your product, so don’t forget to take that into account.
Deliver: Not only do you need to worry about your parts and supplies getting to you, you are also responsible for the finished product getting out to your customers, which means delivery is also an important part of your supply chain. If your customers are local, this part of managing the supply chain shouldn’t be too difficult, but if your products are traveling overseas, you might want to alert your customer that they may be waiting a while.
Return: Hopefully, you’re done as soon as you deliver the finished product to your customer, but in the real world that’s not always the case. Some customers send products back to you, either because of defects or for reasons of their own, in which case you then have to manage the supply chain in reverse as those items come back to you and you either have to deal with them if they’re broken/defective, or find another customer to sell them to if the product is fine, but was returned for another reason. Pro tip: One of the best ways to reduce the amount of inventory coming back into your warehouse is to maintain good relationships with your customers. Check in on them after you’ve delivered the product and ask if there are any questions you can answer for them. Taking this pre-emptive action is a great way to reduce customer returns.
By the same token, maintaining good relations with your suppliers is also a great way to get the most out of your supply chain. Business is all about relationships, and that’s as true of supply management as it is of everything else. By building a rapport with your vendors, you can increase the likelihood they’ll give you a heads up when a new product comes in or when there’s a delay in shipping, so you can take it into account when planning your projects and managing your supply chain.
The importance of good relationships in business is why we at ESTCO have spent so much time building relationships with our vendors. We know managing the supply chain is of the utmost importance, which is why we work so hard to help you manage yours. Need a customized part? Need something delivered ASAP? We can use our contacts to make sure your project doesn’t miss a beat, regardless of what’s going on in the world.
If you have any questions about how we can help you manage your supply chain better, reach out now so we can have a conversation.