Change has become the norm for every industry in recent times. The supply chain, as an integral part of every business, is no exception to this trend. We face a period of challenging restructuring and asymmetric growth as the world starts to recover from the global pandemic.
Some companies have seen a decline in the demand for their products, whereas others have seen a spike in demand met by the inability to receive materials from suppliers for a whole series of reasons stemming from health-related and political disruptors. There is, however, no denying that global supply chains remain dependent on the successful navigation of innovation to deliver dependability during the recovery. Protecting and future-proofing your supply chain from disruptions requires rethinking the least-cost and overly lean strategies that have dominated global supply chains for decades.
This article is an introduction to a series of explorative blogs published over the next couple of months. Each blog will cover one of the topics mentioned below. Join us as we explore the supply chain in depth.
Align your supply chain to meet the needs of the business
It goes without saying that building agility and the ability to be nimble into your supply chain functions and organisation – both internally and at the interface with your suppliers – both physically and contractually, using speed to market, quality management and flexibility to manage changes in operating states of your supply chain – can create opportunities for your business.
Chief Supply Chain Officers can use this flexibility to align supply chain capabilities with the need of the business organisation – we will explore the steps required to achieve this.
Some things we will look at are:
- How you can refine your supply chain strategy and segmentation.
- How you can link supply chain segmentation attributes to your functional capabilities.
- How you can use your abilities to configure and map your processes.
- How you can align your internal stakeholders so that you can execute your processes.
- How you can align external stakeholders with strategies and actions to deliver value.
Through alignment of your supply chain with the specific needs of your business, you can harness a custom approach to achieve greater performance and satisfaction necessary for your success.
The importance of Supply Chain Visibility
Supply Chain Visibility is key to any business; knowing exactly what is going on in every stage of the supply chain is business critical. It is supremely complex to achieve. Real-time tracking of raw materials, partially finished goods and components through the supply chain process delivers efficiency and financial benefits – making information trackable in real-time is vital, but sadly this isn’t always the case.
Delivery of real-time visibility depends on collaboration between the organisation, suppliers and logistics operators to allow for the verification of locations and statuses. Within this type of high visibility supply chain, mistakes are easily detectable.
The benefits of a high visibility supply chain that will be discussed in the explorative blog for this topic are:
- Better customer experience and satisfaction delivering performance and brand benefit
- Saved time via automating the tracking process across all transportation parties
- Greater inventory control and procurement
- More precise data to make smarter financial decisions
- Improved worker efficiency and productivity
- Reduced costs associated with delays and chargebacks
- Shorter cycle times
We will also look at methods for improving supply chain visibility and what the future of end-to-end visibility will look like, and the benefits it will deliver.
Supply Chain Risk Management and Mitigation
As the world’s supply systems are expected to become even more disrupted, companies must invest and plan as far ahead as possible to establish resilience, flexibility, visibility, and control over their supply networks. Protecting your supply chain from disruptions requires rethinking the least-cost and overly lean strategies that have dominated global supply chains for decades.
In this blog we will share insights into the mitigation of the risks associated with these changes.
Supply Chain complexity exposes the overall business, so given every stage of the supply chain can affect the overall success of an organisation, failure to assess and plan mitigation at each stage will expose the performance and reputation of the organisation.
We will explore various potential threats and disruptions. When looking at mitigation strategies, some approaches are innovative, while some are basic BUT critical – we hope this will benefit you as you seek to build resilience in your supply chain via intelligent decision-making and a continuous design process.
As ever, the first step to developing any strategy to mitigate risks is knowing and understanding what these risks are, analysing impact and likelihood. Some disruptions, like the pandemic, aren’t easy to predict, some could be seen coming like Brexit, but having a well-thought-out crisis strategy can help to alleviate the most unexpected disruptions or the twists of fate that hit us all.
We investigate steps that can be taken to prevent supply chain risks proactively:
- Get to know your potential suppliers
- Prevent Supply Chain disruptions where possible
- Respond quickly to unexpected events and disruptions
- Keep people safe during business operations
Managing these risks is crucial for the continued success and growth of any company. A lack of supply chain risk mitigation can be truly disastrous to organisations if they are not dealt with appropriately.
Now is the time for a Supply Chain Health Check.
To evaluate the efficiency and resilience of your supply chain now is a good time for businesses to conduct a health check, especially with the recent disruptions caused by the Covid-19 pandemic worldwide and UK specific issues like labour shortages and border regulation. In short, is the logistics network you had pre-pandemic still appropriate for your business now?
Conducting a health check can be challenging but rewarding as it will provide you with valuable information on how your company should respond to shortcomings, mitigate future risks, and maintain success. In this explorative blog we will be looking at some of the actions you should take to test your supply chain. We will also dive deeper into some of the reasons why health checks might be needed. Reasons include:
- A change in management
- Inconsistent service levels
- Poor cost-efficiency
- Considering implementing new technology or processes
- To improve efficiency
- Introduction of a new product
Some benefits of conducting a supply chain health check are:
- Generating cost savings
- Improving service levels
- Improving operating costs and processes
- Incorporating new technology
- Planning for growth
- Incorporating new ideas
As many companies have now experienced the impact of a supply chain crisis first-hand, it has become evident how important the need for a practical supply chain health review can be to help businesses strengthen and prepare for the future.
Bisham Consulting can support this by giving a good understanding of how efficient the existing network is and making recommendations on how to improve. We will look at infrastructure, processes, IT and existing 3PL partners. The health check will also identify where the network works well and not so well. It will show you what “good” looks like and create a roadmap to get there.
The outputs will define expected cost savings, capital requirements, implementation budgets and service level enhancements. This will enable the business to maximise its business results with an appropriate balance between operational logistics costs, capital investment and service levels.
We take a data-driven, bottom-up approach to improve performance. We match data analysis with physical observation to ensure that our recommendations for improvements are built on a firm understanding of the current business. Our outputs are then not just theoretical but can form the basis of a business case for transformation or improvement.
Current Supply Chain Challenges and How to address them
Organisations must have strategies and processes in place to help them avoid risk and crisis.
Here are some of the biggest challenges currently faced by the supply chain industry:
- Material scarcity and energy shortages
- Port congestion, especially with UK/EU procedural changes
- Difficult demand forecasting due to unexpected challenges and changing customer behaviour
- The limited granularity and availability of data and information
- Changing of consumer attitudes
- Keeping liquidity in your business
- Slowed digital transformation, cyber-attacks and the inability to go paperless
- Increased freight costs that put profit margins under pressure
- Diversifying sources in your supply chain strategy
- Supply chain volatility creating problems throughout the supply chain
- Driver shortages and staff shortages – there is a fantastic article on this in Logistics manager
You can combat these challenges by mapping out the priorities in your supply chain, such as:
- Your workforce. Put people first and support their health and new ways of working
- Use available data to improve supply chain visibility and transparency
- Carefully analyse the demand for goods and define micro-segments
- Build a team to undertake multiple interventions and orchestrate responses effectively
- Evaluate different supply chain scenarios, run simulations to predict when and where risks can occur and get insights that will teach valuable lessons to optimise operational metrics for problem-solving
- Evolve digitally to unlock data and better manage information and communication
- Continuously re-evaluate and update operational models to create a resilient supply chain
- Creating strategies and managing priorities is essential to the health of supply chains. It’s easier to resolve and mitigate risk in supply chains with adequate tools and approaches.
Bisham specialises in working with businesses in developing your strategy and tactics to mitigate these issues.
The future of the UK supply chain
As unforeseen events such as the Covid-19 pandemic and Brexit have recently caused significant disruptions in the UK supply chains, it has posed some concerns about the future. Many companies must now decide on how they will adapt to navigate the changes needed to recover. In our final explorative blog on this topic, we will look at the future of supply chains and what this will mean for your business.
Many sources argue that the ongoing supply chain crisis in the UK will continue as far as into 2023 and beyond, causing a range of disruptions that must be navigated to keep head above water. It is essential to note that there will be an ongoing need for agility and transformation as the crisis continues. This will call for supply chains to utilise both short-term and longer-term solutions to meet the new requirements and ensure sustainability.
Some short-term solutions include:
- Using data, such as KPIs, as a valuable tool to track and address any issues that arise
- Model various scenarios in real-time and make database decisions to allow the system to evolve smoothly rather than encountering too many unexpected changes at once
- Use the right data and resources to avoid incurring excessive logistical expenditures and align your supply chain to the rest of your company
- Ensure that your commercial and operations teams are properly collaborating. The supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
Some long-term solutions include:
- A complete overhaul of your supply chain focussing on your long-term goals
- Approach your strategies with your future in mind, consider the expenses and work that will go into reformulating
- Foster and work on the resilience of your business by looking at some of the vulnerabilities you have been able to detect in your business and potential risks that you might face
- Use the data from your short-term solution to assess the health of your supply chain to help you manage the flow of your chain going forward
- Focus on end-to-end visibility to optimise and evolve the business with future-fit changes.
Although there have been major supply chain disruptions, there is a glimmer of hope on the horizon as many organisations have adapted quickly and been focusing on surviving in the new ‘normal’. Through careful planning and forecasting, your business can implement vital changes to ensure resiliency and, ultimately, success for the future.
The use of 3PL services can allow you to outsource areas of your supply chain that you are not a specialist in, plus the development of collaborations to increase efficiency in the “last mile” keep the overall picture in a state of flux.
Bisham can help you navigate through this fog of change.
We are passionate about helping our clients to become more efficient, reducing their costs, improving profits and above all being more competitive.