The demands of operating in a dynamic 24×7 business environment, the challenges of trying to survive and flourish amidst competition, and the urgency to sustain operations in a volatile economy have compelled businesses to examine their supply chain (SC) management processes more closely. The efforts to impart efficiency to these processes have led to the development of certain trends and businesses have been forced to rethink their corporate strategies to accommodate these developments.
Some top trends in supply chain management have been outlined below.
Integrating Customer Relationship Management with Supply Chain Management
Companies have realised that the goal of effective SC management is not just to reduce inventory and make products available timely. Businesses must also adopt measures to enhance customer experience and ensure that goods and services reach customers when needed. Sustainable business strategies today integrate SC management with customer relationship management (CRM) solutions by providing customised supply chain solutions for targeted customer segments to optimise operations. The proliferation of cloud computing tools and technologies and the Big Data explosion make it easy to implement CRM solutions that automate sales and support services.
Increasing Process Integration to Improve Collaboration
The presence of a large number of functional silos can disrupt SC management processes by hampering the smooth flow of products and information between the various operational units. Breaking down these boundaries and integrating processes improve collaboration between the different entities involved in the entire supply chain, from development to delivery. Enhanced collaboration expedites flow of information, facilitates speedy and accurate analysis of data and prompt decision-making, improves production timelines, promotes efficient inventory management, prevents bottlenecks, and reduces costs. The practice of integrating processes to enhance collaboration results in multi-faceted benefits and this trend is sure to catch on.
Using Flexibility as a Criterion to Design Supply Chains
Supply chains need to be designed to respond quickly to disruptive events like unavailability of credit and the challenges of protecting intellectual property and securing assets and shipments. Businesses are thus increasingly designing their supply chains using flexibility as a prime criterion. Flexible designs include tasks like identifying potential risks all along the supply chain, evaluating the impact of a disruptive event, and formulating risk response plans based on company goals and policies. Imparting flexibility to their supply chains help businesses become agile and sustainable and as more and more companies realise the benefits of doing so, the trend will become the norm.
Improving Information-Sharing and Visibility of Data by Adopting IT Tools
As is evident from the above discussion, SC management is increasingly becoming complex. To create efficient supply chains, businesses have started to adopt IT tools that facilitate a more seamless flow of information between different processes and units and enable real-time visibility of data. Being able to obtain real-time information and manage it efficiently enables businesses to formulate realistic de
mand and supply schedules and optimise inventory, warehouse, transport and SC performance management.
Integrating processes by adopting IT tools that enable improved information sharing and real-time visibility of data lets businesses streamline their operations to reduce costs and serve their customers more efficiently. On the other hand, designing flexible supply chains lets businesses become agile, resilient, and sustainable. Given such benefits, it is thus not surprising that many businesses have adopted the above-mentioned SC management trends and now formulate corporate strategies accordingly.