How Supply Chain Planning Improves Operations

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“Measure twice, cut once” applies to business planning as well as to construction projects. Whether your focus is on improving operations and logistics, or looking for ways to monitor customer service levels to improve customer retention,  is crucial. Best practices can include everything from managing operations to logistics and Master data management

Supply chains have millions of data points to manage. The systems that generate or manage this data vary from ERPs like SAP and Oracle, to CRM systems like Salesforce. Without master data management (MDM) in place, each of these systems can have different versions of the same data element. For example, a business may have multiple entries of the same client in Salesforce, each with different names for the client. Are they distinct clients?  Duplicates?

With so many data silos and multiple versions of data, errors from manual entries, and inaccurate data, this issue multiplies over time without the use of MDM.

Using MDM to manage critical data:

  • Reduces data quality issues
  • Improves operational efficiencies by aligning data
  • Increases group collaborations
  • Improves the customer experience
  • Saves resources through automation
  • Reduces risks

The value of forecasting

Accurate forecasting is important for supply chains to manage future demand.

To help meet the bottom line, supply chains must decipher market signals and align demand planning throughout the operation. This helps optimize forecasting accuracy and ensure better resource allocation.

Strategies might include:

  • Enabling collaboration between sales, demand, and supply teams
  • Opening up your supply chain to customers and vendors
  • Orchestrating demand-driven responses through better visibility across operations, syncing demand signaling, and improving
  • Leveraging an integrated supply chain planning platform

Breaking down point-of-sale data

When a supply chain targets their sell-through data, it helps them to better analyze their true sales data from end-to-end, not just sales orders.  This can be very different than what a retailer has on the shelf or what a distributor has in stock.

Predictive and advanced analytics give you a more accurate understanding of future sales. They can gauge inventory levels and inventory replenishment requirements, and explore ways to achieve future success by meeting demand accurately and efficiently while reducing costs.

Integrated business planning

Your organization should incorporate integrated business planning across multiple lines of business. This gives, for example, the finance office to have real-time visibility into changes in the demand for their products and resources. It also enables additional funding for supply chains to add more resources, make acquisitions of new machinery, or to add a new warehouse. Integrating both long- and short-term planning processes throughout your business is essential to align corporate goals. These can include:

  • Tactical planning that’s short range for a year or less
  • Strategic planning that focuses on direction and allocation of resources and labor
  • Operational planning that links objectives and strategies with milestones

While these planning approaches have differences, they are all integrally related. Supply chain planning should include predictive and prescriptive analytics to take the guess work out of decision-making.

Collaborations with customers and supplier relationships

Understanding customer relationships is important to your business. Don’t forget to develop relationships with suppliers as well. Collaborative relationships establish programs with channel partners and customers, which are priorities for supply chains that want to manage demand.

By collecting and analyzing data and developing key collaborations, your business can improve insights, optimize the customer experience, and have better relationships with suppliers and vendors.

Many Vanguard clients expose their supply plans in real-time online with their vendors for confirmation, or at least improve visibility. This improves collaboration and communication, which reduces potential issues with suppliers.

Continuous improvements in the customer experience

More businesses are exploring customer behaviors to better meet demand. Businesses need software to identify products that are seasonal or correlated to other leading factors. For example, generators have a sales spike when a hurricane is in the forecast, so typically in the fall.

To help gather insight into customer behaviors for future demand, use demand forecasting and demand planning software to improve forecasting accuracy. Use inventory optimization software to target appropriate inventory levels. This allows supply chains to know how much inventory to carry at which locations.

In Conclusion

Supply chains that apply best practices achieve excellence in supply chain management. They improve operations and leverage technologies to meet the demand for effective and accurate decision-making. is a best-of-breed supply chain planning platform that enables these best practices.