in Supply Chain

5 Supply Chain Strategy Skills Your Business Needs

by Vanguard Software

While businesses are responsible for every aspect of supply chain management, there are five skills that can help your business with SCM. These include IT and automation, economics, cost-to-serve, project management, and effective leadership and communication.

Use the following tips to help align these strategies with your business needs.

1. IT and automation

Cerasis found that nearly 40 percent of businesses aren’t strategically looking for ways to streamline SCM. As more businesses automate, you can’t rely on handwritten reporting or spreadsheets, as inconsistencies can lead to errors. Furthermore, your business depends on IT procurement to better understand workflows.

Automation via working with a supply chain software company or utilizing supply chain planning software helps with:

  • Logistics and shipping route knowledge
  • Fuel costs and freight rates
  • Knowledge of warehouse equipment
  • Distribution center location layouts

Supply chain leaders need software knowledge from an end-to-end standpoint for employees, suppliers, customers, and vendors. Very few businesses run well without warehouse management WMS, enterprise resource planning, ERP, TMS, analytics software, and specialized demand planning software or demand forecasting software that can help with decision-making.

2. Economics

Customers will choose another business for purchases if your store is out of stock. As consumer demand evolves rapidly, accurate inventory can help with inventory replenishment. Yet only 63 percent of businesses carry accurate inventory. While you might start out with only a few customers, as you expand, you need to focus on costs and inventory optimization to increase profits.

Economics can help predict your growth and plan for it as it’s an understanding of supply and demand related to customer preferences and costs. By studying economics and the costs of goods sold, you can learn about price points to maximize profits without tarnishing customer relationships.

3. Cost-to-serve

Ask your supply chain software vendors or supply chain software companies about decision-making and they’ll say that decisions affect customers. To quantify your business relationship with your customers, focus on cost-to-serve.

In understanding cost-to-serve, identify where your customers may be over-serviced or under-serviced and make adjustments. For example, Staples offers self-serve copiers for customers who know how to make their own copies. The resulting shift to cost-to-serve can help identify areas where you are not generating a profit or where customers and products are unprofitable. Your ability to understand cost-to-serve can aid your marketing, sales, and finance departments.

4. Project management

What kind of leader are you? Experienced leaders understand the pitfalls and challenges associated with project management. Focus on:

  • Global orientation skills so you can think and expand globally
  • Fostering relationships across your organization to manage people and build teams
  • System thinking for cross-functionality to comprehend manufacturing, logistics, marketing, and sales
  • Business skills to work with your CIO and understand and utilize technology tools

These areas are very important to SCM because your decisions affect all aspects of inventory, total costs, and customer service.

5. Effective leadership and communication

Effective leadership traits and communication can help your business grow. There’s a mental shift as you go from the supply chain managerial process, to the executive offering leadership, to your executive team.

Fundamental skills to utilize include:

  • Opening communications channels with people
  • Rallying people with shared interests and rewards
  • Inspiring people by meeting them on their level

If you’re not a “people person,” take coaching classes to help you work with teams on all levels to increase your leadership skills.

In order to be successful at supply chain leadership, you must develop strategies to improve yourself and your business. Conduct regular assessments, and consider training and coaching in areas of weakness. You can expand your SCM software and strategically improve your future business dealings and overall success with supply chain management.

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