Supply chain management has been a hot topic over the past year, so I wanted to share the highlights from our webinar with our friends at SOS Inventory. Our panelists had a great discussion on what a modern supply chain looks like in 2021. Here are the takeaways!
We’re not in Kansas anymore
Excuse my Wizard of Oz reference — but COVID-19 has reshaped the world of supply chains. Today, businesses need to employ a “back to basics” approach, which means:
- Minimizing the number of intermediaries involved in your sourcing process
- “Counting the cost” needs to consider both dollars and intangibles
- The time between order and receipt needs to be managed closely
The struggles many countries faced while sourcing PPE over the past year highlighted the importance of these variables in a very relatable way. Where offshoring was a historical path of choice for the production of these types of goods, we’ve seen the concept of reshoring burst onto the scene in a very profound way as companies look to bring more predictability into their sourcing, despite the increased costs typically associated with domestic manufacturing.
The “human” factor is back, in a big way
There’s also been a major shift in how buyer-supplier relationships are perceived. Where these relationships were often very transactional, the importance of human connection has reemerged and buyers are realizing the importance of having partnerships at each step. Shortages have been harsh reminders that suppliers are an extension of your business — and when strong relationships are in place, resolutions come faster, confidence is higher, and problems have a way of getting sorted out in a much shorter period of time.
Going “digital” is a top priority
The pace of technology adoption in the transportation and supply chain industries has been slower than other industries, driven by the scope and scale of the industries themselves; however, the time for change has arrived. Forward-thinking leaders need to consider how technology can enable:
- Greater visibility into their supply chain, through inventory management solutions
- Streamlined order processing for their clients, through e-commerce
- Enablement of distributed teams, through collaborative tools
Competitive pressures and tight margins often cause leaders to look more towards cost control versus investment — but the time has come to invest and lay strong foundations for future growth. Your end customer experience is becoming a core business differentiator, so it’s increasingly important to decrease friction at each step of their journey. It’s never been more important to make sure that you have complete visibility into your business so you can provide real-time insights to your stakeholders and keep your supply chain running efficiently.
The best plans account for the worst-case scenarios
The biggest lesson emerging from the pandemic is that the businesses that were agile are emerging stronger than they have ever been. Short supply chains and local sourcing were some of the keys — but there have been great success stories of companies that pivoted, retooled, and capitalized on new market needs and buying behaviors.
The takeaway here is that contingency planning is not an optional activity. If you haven’t done so already, your business would be well-served to identify:
- Remote work contingencies for your team
- Diversified options for raw material sourcing
- Opportunities to pivot capacity and capabilities in the event of material shortages or new market demands
In hindsight, 2020 shone a light on many areas of our day-to-day activities that were vulnerable to disruption. As the economic recovery continues, it’s time to focus on what was learned through this season and applying those learnings to ensure that your business is stronger as you prepare for the rest of 2021. Here at Method:CRM and SOS Inventory, we’re big fans of small business — so we’re cheering you on!
Looking for more tips on managing an efficient supply chain? Check out the full recording from our webinar with SOS Inventory!