10 wishlist items every Supply Chain Manager wants from Santa this year

22/12/2016

Santa Claus driving a forklift

Santa Claus driving a forklift

Check it twice!

If you are a supply chain manager, or you know one, chances are you know they’re not the type of people to leave things to the last minute.

That won’t stop us from providing some late ideas to add to any supply chain manager’s Christmas list, in the spirit the season, to bring joy to every SCM into the new year. So pull out your list, and get ready to start adding to it!

1. New shipping technology

Who doesn’t want some sort of shiny new toy to play with over the holidays?

Several major companies have tested or begun to use drone deliveries, including Google, Domino’s Pizza, Amazon and 7-Eleven. Self-driving trucks have also taken major steps, including the first self-driven commercial delivery in October by Anheuser-Busch InBev in Colorado.

While more testing and legislation are needed to make both a more accessible and affordable option for most companies, drones in particular may be a reasonable option sooner than you think.

2. A solid plan to mitigate unforeseeable disruptions

A major disruption that cannot be controlled by a supply chain manager, such as a natural disaster or a port workers’ strike, is the kind of situation that can cause nightmares.

While they usually can’t be forecasted, plans can be put in place to make changes in the event of a major disruption. These plans could involve relying on alternate suppliers, sourcing raw materials from another country, shipping to a different port or airport, or something else altogether. Whatever the solution, it’s better to have a plan that may need tweaking than to be caught completely flat-footed.

3. More eco-friendly delivery methods, materials, etc.

While metrics like speed, efficiency and cost-effectiveness are often a supply chain manager’s greatest concern, sustainability and environmental impact are quickly rising to the top of priority lists.

With a multitude of options to go greener – new packing materials, , more fuel-efficient transportation, monitoring suppliers’ sustainability efforts, etc. – the greatest challenge remains how to be more environmentally friendly without sacrificing overall supply chain efficiency.

4. Greater local/rural flexibility to get quick delivery outside of cities

There have been advances in rapid shipping within major city centres over the past few years. Amazon Prime subscribers in New York, for example, can now have goods delivered within the hour.

Despite these improvements, there are still many people who live in rural or remote areas who are unable to access such quick service.

Some of these challenges are outside of the hands of supply chain managers, such as ensuring all rural areas have the Internet access necessary to make orders in the first place. However, focusing on solutions to provide faster shipping to rural customers could open up new avenues for growth.

5. Lots of advance notice for any legal/compliance changes, and a crack legal/compliance team to handle them

Few problems will cause more headaches than a shipment being held up because of an unexpected or previously unknown change to compliance laws.

If you don’t have a legal or compliance team at your company who can stay on top of the latest regulations and how to comply with them, it can be especially hard to fit such work into your busy schedule. Setting up some form of update system to alert you to any changes, or working with a third party who specializes in these areas could also be a solution.

6. Reliable suppliers who embrace today’s high standards

A supplier can affect a supply chain manager’s business in many significant ways. Your supplier will meet or fall short of your clients’ expectations of quality, timeliness, innovation, and even finance. And all of the above will directly contribute to your ability to compete in your industry.

A supply chain manager’s dream supplier will fully embrace ecommerce and digitization, meet and exceed new standards in compliance, social and environmental sustainability, and can make any order size profitable. And they will do that reliably, earning themselves a warm place of loyalty in the SCM’s heart.

 7. Cutting edge business intelligence software

There is no doubt that big data has and continues to revolutionize the supply chain industry. This unprecedented amount of information is being collected and analyzed by tracking software at all stages of the supply chain. The outcome is the ability for companies to run more complex supply chains with greater efficiency, agility, reduced risks and greater foresight into the future.

But in order to take advantage of this goldmine of data, a supply chain manager needs the most up to date business intelligence software. So for the SCM on your list, drop a program that can manage all sales channels, inventory, point of sale and supply chain data in one – preferably cloud-based – system into their stocking.

8. Good analysts to know which metrics matter, which don’t, and how to understand them

 Once you’ve unwrapped that cutting edge software, you’re going to need someone to help you make sense of all the intricate data you’ve collected.

Today’s supply chains are getting more sophisticated and the role of a supply chain analyst has become an essential part of any logistics team. This year, SCMs want an analyst (or a whole team of analysts if you’re feeling generous) to not only analyze the data but suggest ways to optimize the supply chain based on their findings and accurately forecast future demand, pricing and costs.

9. A dynamite returns management team

No matter how great your products are, there will inevitably be returns for one reason or another. Since we all know that returns can eat up a big portion of profits, every supply chain manager yearns for an effective team that can handle the challenges of reverse-logistics flawlessly.

Companies that are making strides in this area use the latest returns management software, analytics applications, streamline the reimbursement process, and process returns at the snap of a finger. All of this allows companies to hold on to more of their revenue and keep their customers delighted with an easy, risk-free process. Cheers to that!

10. Full transparency to re-gift to all stakeholders and consumers

Being able to boast of socially responsible supply chain operations should be on every company’s wish lists this year. Being morally, environmentally, legally and socially responsible is no longer a “nice to have” in today’s age of increasing transparency. For consumers, it has become an expectation.

Sustainability initiatives are being boosted by innovative technology, allowing supply chain management teams to trace their products from sourcing to delivery. Santa should be loading up on supply chain traceability software to send to every SCM, so that they can pass on the good news of their responsible practices to their partners and customers, and put a smile on everyone’s face this holiday season.

Wishing everyone a happy, efficient, just-in-time time holiday season this year!

About the author

FITT Team

Author: FITT Team

The Forum for International Trade Training (FITT) is a not-for-profit organization dedicated to providing international business training, resources and professional certification to individuals and businesses. We offer the only international business training programs and related professional designation (CITP®|FIBP®) endorsed by the World Trade Centers Association and the Canadian government. And our international business training solutions have become the standard of excellence for global trade professionals across Canada and around the world.

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