Improve Supply Chain Management in 6 Simple Steps

For every business, efficiency and effectiveness are both key in ensuring maximal profitability. No clearer is this than in the supply chain, where mutual dependence between suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers means that everyone has to be on their toes to ensure the consumer gets their good or service on time, to the required standard and at the right price.

In the supply chain, things can go wrong, and waste can be a problem for supply chain supervisors and executives to deal with. Managing the supply chain from upstream to downstream is a must, but it can sometimes be difficult to navigate with ease. Using a consultancy service like ours at SustainIt could be the perfect solution to this!

As more businesses level up management of their supply chains, maintaining a competitive advantage over industry rivals becomes increasingly difficult. That’s why it’s essential to ensure you continue to optimise and revaluate management of your own supply chains.

One such way you can do this is by increasing the sustainability of your activities to reduce costs, waste, and work time not spent maximising your profitability. As the United Nation’s (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s (IPCC) Special Report about global warming told the world, sustainability is a global mission and one with which your business practices would do well to align.

At SustainIt, the UK’s leading sustainability data consultancy, we pride ourselves on our bespoke solutions to your business’s problems. We’re a family-run team with over 40 years’ experience, and we’ve put the knowledge we’ve acquired into this article to explain why improving your supply chain management matters and to provide 6 steps for you to follow:

  1. Foster Expertise and Transparency
  2. Develop Strong Relationships
  3. Invest in Supply Chain Data
  4. Become More Sustainable
  5. Utilise Industry Knowledge
  6. Monitor Progress

Why Improving your Supply Chain Management Matters

Every business wants to have lower costs, be more efficient, and increase profits. This is true for businesses of all sizes; from SMEs to large companies and international corporations. For those in manufacturing, or the supply chain more generally, improving management of the inflow of materials and products plus the shipping of goods and services you provide can be vital for your business’s health.

For example, keeping a close eye on your supply chain can aid the elimination of waste and inefficient practices from the warehouse all the way up to analysts’ desks. Doing so will not only cut costs and increase potential future revenue, but will also reduce your business’s negative impact on the environment! For more, see our article on reducing environmental impact.

As people become increasingly more conscious of businesses’ sustainability, it’s never been more important to mange your supply chain to be as eco-friendly as it can be. In a previous article, we highlighted a trend showing that investors and consumers alike expect supply chains to ensure their practices are sustainable, and a recent survey showed that almost two-thirds of UK consumers would rather purchase products made sustainably.

With all this evidence, it’s clear that managing your supply chain and ensuring its sustainability is vital to your business’s success. Without the skills or expertise to do so, however, this can be a challenge! That’s where we come in: at SustainIt, we can provide cross-sector expertise and 40 years’ experience to deliver the highest quality insight into your sustainability practices. If you need more convincing, check out our article on the benefits of sustainability consulting to your business.

6 Steps to Improve Supply Chain Management

Step 1: Foster Expertise and Transparency

Ensuring the efficiency of your supply chain has to start internally. If your team lacks the expertise or understanding to manage stock, manufacturing, orders, haulage, or anything else, you’ll have difficulties immediately. That’s why it’s vital to ensure your employees are given clear instructions, have tailored training plans for the short and medium term, and receive continual feedback reports and mentorship from more experienced colleagues.

With this level of investment in your employees, you also need to ensure they want to invest their time and efforts into you. That’s why it’s critical to be open and transparent with your team about challenges you face together – this builds trust. Taking a similar approach externally also helps build a brand’s reputation, as we discuss in this article on the importance of supply chain sustainability.

Step 2: Develop Strong Relationships

Once you’re certain that your internal colleagues have the tools and trust to excel, you then need to move to your external colleagues (ones you work with outside of your company). These could include suppliers of raw materials, hauliers for your products, customers who buy what you manufacture, or even consumers whose demand your business relies upon. For example, if you wish to build stronger relationships with consumers, it’s a good idea to build their trust in you as a sustainable business by advertising that you aim to follow the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (see our article on how to leverage them in business to be more sustainable).

A strong relationship is built upon clear and consistent communication, empathy, resourcefulness, and pragmatism. You are working towards a shared goal and thus it’s essential that you remain on the same team. A stronger relationship leads to greater levels of commitment and more desirable outcomes.

Step 3: Invest in Supply Chain Software

The third step to improving supply chain management requires taking a step back and analysing your entire business’s operations holistically. This means you have to dig deep into short- and long-term data, assess trends, and spot flaws. If you’re working with reams of paper to do so, that can be incredibly difficult. That’s why we recommend investing in top-notch software to handle your entire business’s data needs.

As we forecasted in a previous article, the best supply chain management practices will be defined by their willingness to employ the most sophisticated software packages. They allow for the automation of ordering and manufacturing, the ability to view real-time analytics on inventory and production, and much more. At SustainIt, we’re the UK’s leading sustainability data consultancy firm, so we can provide the expertise to advise you on exactly what software you need. Interested? Enquire today!

Step 4: Become More Sustainable

Operating a business in the supply chain means using lots of energy, producing lots of waste, and spending a lot of time that could be used more efficiently. Choosing to level up your company by making it more sustainable with us at SustainIt could cut costs and make your business more attractive to consumers!

For example, if you run an e-commerce business, why not try to source packaging produced with sustainable raw materials or recycled goods? Instead of going for economies of scale by bulk-buying from international suppliers, why not promote your brand’s image by going local (and advertising that you do this too) instead? For more, see our article giving sustainability advice to e-commerce businesses.

Step 5: Use Industry Experts in Sustainability

While the word ‘sustainability’ may seem to be just a buzzword to some, operating your business in a more ecologically and environmentally friendly way can have great advantages, both for your finances and your brand (not to mention the Earth!). It can be confusing to navigate the sustainability landscape, so reach out to us at SustainIt today for our bespoke services.

We have developed the expertise and industry knowledge to solve your sustainability data problems. From advising on less costly waste management and recycling solutions to providing bespoke training for best practices, we’re here to help. Why not try to offset your hauliers’ emissions with a tree-planting scheme? How about switching to motion-sensitive lights in warehouse and office buildings?

Step 6: Monitor Progress in Improving Supply Chain Management

Becoming a more efficient business means continually monitoring your progress. Managing a supply chain is a job that has no two days the same, and in this ever-evolving environment, waste and inefficient practices can arise constantly. That’s why you need SustainIt’s services to future-proof your sustainability improvements!

Learn More About SustainIt

SustainIt is a global sustainability data consultancy helping businesses make a positive impact on the world around them whilst ensuring maximal efficiency and minimal emissions. With over 40 years’ experience, we have helped companies of all sizes exceed their sustainability targets.

We’re proud to offer bespoke services tailored to your business’s needs. We understand that managing every supply chain is different, and with expertise from a range of sectors, you can be sure that we have the skills and experience to solve your sustainability problems.

To learn more about us and how we can help your business, simply get in touch with our friendly team today.

Back to Our Stories