Have you ever heard that the best working machine isn’t what you can’t add any more to, but the machine that you can’t take anything away from? Most often, simplifying a process is the best way to make sure that something works the best. The more moving parts you have in a machine or process, the more room for error you are going to have, the more pieces you are going to affect, and it might even be more difficult to locate the source of the actual problem.
Does this sound like your supply chain lately? If that is the case, simplification is something that you may want to consider. Just because the world of supply chains are becoming a lot more complicated and high tech, doesn’t mean that your job of managing that chain should.
Threats of Complexity to Your Supply Chain
1) Disconnected Information
If your supply chain and your teams are all running off of their own documents and excel files, everyone is going to be operating off of their agendas first,and the information that they are recording may or may not consider the other branches of the supply chain. If information is lost between teams or between branches of the chain, that can spell disaster for your entire operation.
2) Lack of Communication
With that disconnect in recording, transferring, and receiving information comes communication. If one team or piece of your supply chain is not communicating with who they need to be, that break in the line could throw off your entire chain. This can especially be a threat if you are using several different means or systems of communication, which can make it difficult to keep a record of what needs to be done.
3) The Unexpected
You can see how a lack of communication and having a disconnect of relevant information can spell disaster for your supply chain. Imagine what that could turn into when you are confronted with an unforeseen problem or issue in the supply chain. If you are already having problems with communication and disconnected or misconstrued information, how are you and your team going to be able to respond when a disaster arises?
Steps to Simplicity
Here are some steps to a simpler, smoother supply chain that you can start incorporating with your company as soon as possible. Hopefully, these steps to simplicity will be a huge relief when you start applying them to your supply chain.
1) Share Your Data
One of the first and most important things that you can start with is sharing your data amongst your teams. If every team is only running off of the data that is most important to them, the team isn’t working toward the same unified goal. In order to make sure that everyone is working toward the same objective, you can’t have everyone running off of their own document or spreadsheet, that may not even contain the most updated version of information.
Instead of using multiple different methods and forms of software to record and share information and data within your supply chain, you need to make sure that everyone is on the same page. Make sure that everyone on all of your supply chain teams are using the same software that conveys live updates of the relevant data. Maybe that means moving all of your supply chain data to a cloud service that allows each team in your supply chain access to the most up to date information.
2) Connect Processes
Everyone in your company needs to how an idea of who their department is connected with, their responsibility to other departments, and other departments responsibility to them. You should make sure that you have a way to connect your teams together so that they can see how each piece of the process works and how they can work together to make everything go more smoothly.
The other benefit to connecting processes is that you can more quickly respond to unforeseen issues and wrenches that get thrown into the works. Anytime a change happens or a challenge is faced, your teams should be able to see that change instantly, over the entire network. You need full visibility and total transparency across your entire supply chain so that you can see what is happening from one end to the other.
This is going to make your life so much easier, so that you don’t have to spend all-nighters at the office responding to crises and putting out fires. You will know the exact source of a problem, when it happens, and how to fix it.
3) Open Lines of Communication
Communication is the key to success in just about anything. By opening up the data and the processes in your supply chain, you should now be seeing open lines of communication across your teams. It isn’t uncommon that the next step in a supply chain process is contingent upon someone answering an email or returning a phone call.
To prevent that from happening, get all of your teams on the same supply chain management software that lets you communicate and make decisions within the platform. That’s just another way that you can have totally open communication, and perfect transparency for solving problems, making decisions, and keeping things moving.