Understanding the Basis of an Organisational Supply Chain


Organisations today look out for end-to-end connected supply chains that can help them perform their tasks with efficiency and finesse. Supply chains are the set of associated events that oversee, manage and offer inputs regarding different facets of product procurement to its delivery.

Several retailing companies, business organisations, and other inventory firms bank on efficient supply chains that could be used in their operational settings for carrying out different processes and other internal activities.

The governance of such large-scale practices that integrate several different aspects of marketing, delivery, and raw material processing needs to have its optimisation strategies. The onus lies in supply chain managers setting up practical measures through well-researched action plans that help them achieve desired results.

The sole purpose of a supply chain management process is to create a workable environment for managing vital aspects that undergo a product life cycle.


What does the term supply chain optimisation exactly mean?


What influence do supply chains have on setting up successful businesses?


How can supply chains impact business policies?


The answers to the questions above can be solved by studying this domain through a credible source. Today, aspiring and enthusiastic managers need to have comprehensive practical knowledge and theoretical groundwork over these managerial aspects.


The current courses in supply chain management offered by leading institutes across the country have been instrumental in creating the next set of capable managers who can fill these chain capacities.


Also Read : What is the Main Goal of Supply Chain Management?


Understanding the A-Z of Supply Chain Optimisation


The term supply chain optimisation is the set of combined practices that ensure peak performance of supply chains at corporate levels. Several key performance indicators are leveraged to oversee costs and arrears for total operating expenses along with gross margin returns on inventory set up by businesses.


The purpose of supply chain management in the optimisation sense is to provide end products to end-users at the lowest costs while maintaining a high level of profits. This might seem a challenging task to manage two opposite facets of running successful businesses.


In order to meet such objectives and other goals, corporations need to adopt a strategy that balances costs of manufacturing, inventory, transportation, fulfilment, and customer service expectations.


More or less, modern businesses must have a pact in place that encompasses these separate facets of supply chains highlighted above for better feasibility and effectiveness.


Other reasons for increased costs include fluctuation in material prices, carrier changes, different customer demographics, and other factors that cause several changes.


The onset of a new and innovative need for supply chain optimisation comes as a result of a significant event in merging or acquisition changes involving finances and capital.


The reasons can be narrowed down to rising transportation costs, shutting down of major warehouses, delay in relay times caused due to external reasons, constant complaints by other members of supply chains.


As suppliers understand and deal with changing expectations, they have started to grow in an ad-hoc fashion. The quick response to e-commerce demand has led companies to bolt doors on direct sales capabilities without integrating them in other channels, eventually leading to higher costs and fragmented spaced out management.


Also Read : 9 Essential C’s Of Supply Chain Leadership You Need To Learn


So how does the process of supply chain optimisation start?


What are the signals that indicate the onset of such mechanisms?


This is where the supply chain managers come into play to conduct a thorough analysis of forecasting demands, followed by the development of a production and inventory plan that meets those forecasts.


Online courses in supply chain management further equip managers to bring in raw materials, manufacturing components, transportation, and distribution procedures.


The basis of a supply chain optimisation starts with examining possibilities of better-integrating E-commerce policies through an omnichannel strategy.


However, before starting with optimisation procedures, companies look for collaborations with consultants and service providers to help in these processes that help in implementing technology as well as organisational changes that ensure optimal results.


What are the Different Techniques for Supply Chain Optimisation?


The experienced managers taking care of maintaining supply chains believe that conducting regular strategic reviews of firms can help in modelling future sets of plans.


These workable action plans are devised by time horizons that go from immediate to five years in the future.


The contingency plans set up by C-level executives and other elite-level decision makers suggest some robust methods for managing the tactical and operational implementation of optimisation procedures.


The plan to act quickly and intelligently in case of emergencies is vital for the long-term sustenance of companies. These emergencies could arise in the form of material and labour shortages.


Also Read : What is the Future of Supply Chain Management in the Face of a Global Pandemic?


Top 4 plans mentioned below will help in further understanding of narrowing down the purpose of supply chain management and its utilisation:-


  • Strategic Planning


As the name suggests, strategic planning is the epitome of defining its overall approach to achieving its goals and objectives.


This is the step wherein businesses need to take care of their inventory aspects, see their production lines, and carry out transportation for movement of goods and services. Lastly, the practices need to be cohesive with the distribution of technology leveraged and customer service offered to end-users.


Strategic planning must highlight forecasting elements that undergo in establishing customer demands that comply with the latest trends and developments in the world.


One of the critical parameters for defining success in strategic planning divisions is to share it across all platforms and channels deployed by organisations. This will assist supply chain managers in addressing any fallacies that inculcate organisational structures and other investment areas.


Many companies fail to keep with the latest trends and practices since they have outdated processes and schemas. In layman’s terms, companies are finding it hard to keep up with these movements at the pace at which changes are taking place.


Also Read : What are the Tasks Performed by Supply Chain Managers?


  • Contingency Planning


The second type of action plan set up by firms encompasses the worst-case scenarios during the onset of optimisation procedures.


The extreme practices where contingency planning comes into play include- severe weather events, labour problems, loss of major suppliers, vendors, 3 PL issues, and fallouts between different staff personnel.


Contingency plans are leveraged following organizational policies that need to include events or circumstances that can send shockwaves across any organisation.


The primary objective of supply chain management contingency planning can be to rethink responses that can help in reducing the negative impact of events. The shortening of response times and minimising internal disruptions in corporations can be great escape strategies that businesses can utilise.


Certain events might occur daily and hence can jeopardise a company’s fortunes; therefore, setting up successful contingency plans that can help reduce the harmful implications is a must for industries.


Some events might occur daily, such as delays in relay time, shortage of supplies, the inability of companies to meet rising customer demands, time lags caused due to transportation, and other logistics mismatches.


What businesses need to do in such situations is to bank on their analysis practices and regularly stay up to date with upcoming future projections that concern different aspects of supply chain management.


Doing so will enable firms to gather insights about their inventory and other procurement shortages well in advance.


Also Read : What are the Benefits of Supply Chain Management?


  • Tactful Planning


Next up is tactful planning that comes once every couple of years to review how the organisation performed within the given time frames. Tactful planning can be considered a long-term prospect for dealing with changes and other market trends.


The crux of execution sustenance of business strategies lies in monitoring the resources, raw materials, third-party suppliers, vendors, and critical members that constitute operational supply chains.


The sole purpose of supply chain management and the managers setting up acute practices for minimising corporation hazards boils down to allocating resources as per the worker’s capabilities.


Tactful planning embodies 5 to 10-year plans for industries that survey the past action plans to augur future policies. One of the proven ways to garner success via tactful planning is to go over things that worked in favour of supply chains and their growth in the past.


Tactful planning surveys the current industry scope to leverage strategies and future action plans for developing skills about specific organisational fields and making room for capital requirements such as building new warehousing spaces.


One of the critical objectives of tactful planning is to ensure that external resources like consultants and other suppliers are made to help develop successful operations.


Also Read : How to Successfully Manage Supply Chains


  • Operational Planning


Operational planning deals directly with the several operations constituting a given supply chain. It considers both intrinsic and external factors that can make it efficient and deliver goods on time.


This type of planning comes to the fore in translating the strategies, workable action plans, policies, and other established parameters into daily based activities taking place in organisations.


The role of a supply chain manager in documenting the proceedings and setting up processes that help businesses succeed is vital for multiplying profits.


Introducing an operational plan in corporational junctures leads to properly allocating resources and setting up practical performance measurements for improving workplace efficiency.


Operational planning is key to addressing the shortcomings that transpire between different tasks in firms and finding feasible measures to deal with these issues.


The organisational management, along with consultation with supply chain officers, needs to survey daily protocols prevalent in operations and find any breakages or hindrances that can lead to losses.


The primary goal of supply chain management is to facilitate the smooth running of business operations and to intervene wherever there are any issues or problems.


Operational planning is an essential component of any manufacturing and logistics company since it provides a clear picture of individual roles and responsibilities that staff personnel needs to perform.


The blueprint for operational practices and other associated tasks can be found in strategic plans. Supply chain managers need to prioritise referring to strategic manuals while sorting out any challenges arising in its operations.


Also Read : How to become a Supply Chain Manager


Success at Supply Chain Level Demands Planning


“Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.”


The above quote by Alan Lakein highlights the essence of future planning and its long-term benefits in addressing current issues.


As seen from the host of planning particulars defined in the section above, numerous organisational areas require strict policies followed by their near-perfect execution for achieving desired results.


Accuracy and precision are the keywords interlinked with successful supply chain measures to develop efficient practices within firms.


Strategic planning is the primary architect for defining procedural plans followed by other policies for increasing the efficiency of organisations. These plans are instrumental in establishing business strategy and giving an operational and tactical implementation for different processes.


Moreover, while canvassing business policies its vital to accommodate contingency plans that are responsive towards emergencies and able to finesse other parameters. The shared objective of all these plans is that they are the leading players in transforming an organisation from a reactive to a more proactive supply chain approach.


The by-product of these separate plans and their utilisation in organisational settings helps perform a cost-benefit analysis of different arrears, take care of various overhead operational costs, and maintain a balance between demand and supply channels.


Understanding the flow of processes and resources in organisational junctures can assist managers in overseeing their internal operations.


Also Read : 5 Functions of Supply Chain Management


Process Flow Schema in Supply Chain World


The process flow tabular diagram that coagulates supply chain management is represented below:-

Supply Chain Management – Process Flow
Step 1 = Vendor
Step 2 = Sourcing
Step 3 = Inbound Storage / Transport Action
Step 4= Operations
Step 5 = Outbound Storage / Transportation
Step 6 = Consumer Distribution
Step 7 = Consumer


Moving on, working professionals tasked with optimising their operational supply chains need to be well-versed with descriptive features that help achieve results. The knowledgeable courses in supply chain management have well-curated teaching modules that render insights about different features of this managerial chain.


Also Read : How can Supply Chain Management Streamline Organisational Processes?


Essential Features that Undergo Supply Chain Optimisation


We’re living in a technological era wherein innovation is in abundance and trade is flourishing. The traditional supply chains that were once linear are now widening their horizons and partnering with several third parties.


The influx of practices that have led to significant changes in supply chain domain has only been possible due to the extensive movement of goods and data from their point of origin to their final consumption by end-users and other clients.


With the refined tuning of supply chains in modern space, there have also been efforts made towards its optimisation to offer speedy delivery of goods and services to consumers.


Also Read : Steps Of Supply Chain Management Process


Here’s a list of features that have led to an optimisation of supply chains:-


  • Room for Integration Throughout the Supply Chain


In terms of seeking innovation in the current time, technology can be thought of as an enabler that provides practical digital solutions for integrating multiple entities of supply chains.


These include suppliers, OEMs, shippers, warehouse centres, and customers. There needs to be room for interconnectivity between these stakeholders and local supply chain applications.


A supply chain process flow that leverages enterprise software, legacy systems, third-party applications, help desk, and email—regardless of the information source- must integrate with different platforms.


Businesses running short on finances can cut down maintenance costs of their separate applications and avoid overlapping different features.


  • Capability to Collaborate in Real-Time


The supply chain is a network of information gathered from various sources. Moreover, with heaps of data entered in real-time, businesses need to utilise this practice to avoid bottlenecks, product mismatch, and losing their customers.


The defined purpose of supply chain management is to collaborate with external stakeholders and bring them together to work on a project that helps deliver messages successfully.


Investing in personalised dashboards that offer insights into their roles can be a gamechanger for managing various areas. It makes up for regular updates and keeps core project members on the same page.


Self-service portals are another terrific paradigm that connects sparsely spread out supply chain associates. It comprises a password-protected site that eliminates communication challenges by allowing chain members to share information.


Also Read : How Supply Chain Management helps in Business


  • Inherent Process Optimisation Abilities


The best aspect of supply chains is that they can now be automated to compute challenging tasks with excellent speeds and enable staff members to work on revenue-generating areas.


One of the examples for automating supply chains includes- the automation of the order to cycle cash cycle. It ultimately shortens the product life phases, further reducing the need for paper-based documentation and leading to tighter links between manufacturing, warehousing, and delivery channels.


With the influx of data science technologies such as machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, businesses can now deploy powerful mechanisms to speed up their tasks that deliver optimal results.


Several optimisation tools used by logistics and transportation services led to the quick movement of goods across warehouses with lower costs.


With fuel costs on the rise, managers must look for automation procedures that can benefit their organisations.


Also Read : What are the Different Stages Associated with Supply Chain Management?


  • Analytics Meets Forecasting


Prediction of a bad event can surely help businesses recover costs and lead to better evaluation metrics for existing procedures. Along with the benefits of automation of daily tasks, great business software must analyse trends and developments in their respective industries.


With the adaptive utilisation of data analytics and insights it offers, supply chain managers can take preventive measures for maintaining the financial health of their firms. Furthermore, it helps identify risks and hazards that can creep up in organisational processes and take preventative measures.


In a retailing business that is influenced by customer demands and having enough supplies for their preferred products, analytics can assist logistics managers in anticipating those changing notions.


With the advanced feature of predictive analytics, modern workplaces will balance the disparities that arise between supply and demand areas by rendering data on internal and external trends.


The different features highlighted serve as a great motivation for optimising supply chains and making them up to date with the pace and technology of current times. These facets of logistics, inventory, and supply chains are quintessential for setting up successful practices that help in churning profits for companies.


Moreover, it’s vital that companies combine a team of decision-makers and supply chain managers to survey various processes that underlie these domains and offer practical solutions. Young professionals who feel overwhelmed being in these hot waters can enrol for credible courses in supply chain management and get mastery over its basics.


The success of supply chains lies in their careful utilization for governing various industrial tasks and helping firms understand their importance. Supply chain management is a dedicated field that takes care of different practices that undergo corporation requirements and sit well with their established policies.


There is huge complexity involved with supply chain optimisation since it covers various facets that seem like a marathon that goes on eternally. Therefore, leveraging a supply chain configuration that offers the best mix of cost and service may change over time due to price hikes.


Also Read : Common Supply Chain Management issues and How to Resolve Them?


Supply Chain Management FAQs


Here’s a list of FAQs that constitute supply chain management:-


Q. What are the requirements for supply chain management?

Ans. A bachelor’s degree in a business field is a must along with certificate courses in supply chain management.


Q. What separates logistics from inventory?

Ans. Logistics can be defined as the entire combination of facilities, people, and resources that are purchased. Inventory refers to the maintenance of stock level prices for goods and services.


Q. List out the five basic steps of supply chain management.

Ans. The steps include- plan, source, make, deliver and return.


Q. What are the components of an SCM life cycle?

Ans. The components are- manufacturing, procurement, warehousing, transportation, and delivery.


Q. How do managers develop supply chains?

Ans. SCM managers navigate and explore their working conditions and augment strategies that sit well with the company’s ethics and values.


Q. What defines value-based supply chains?

Ans. Value-based supply chains are those that offer goods with lower relay times at affordable prices.


Q. How to calculate the right amount of inventory for every location?

Ans. By leveraging a cycle and safety stock for existing inventory and comparing it with future needs.


Q. How to improve safety in terms of product delivery?

Ans. SCM managers need to make product packaging their top priority for delivering goods in a safe and secure manner.


Q. What is the most practical way for reducing transportation costs?

Ans. It can be done by monitoring whether certain packages can be clubbed together for making shipments.


Q. Why are supply chains important?

Ans. Supply chains are important since they offer practical and action plans for delivering goods to end-users.


More Information:

Strategic Human Resources Leadership

Postgraduate Certificate In Business Analytics 

Executive Development Program In Financial Analytics

Executive Development Program In Talent Management

Executive Development Program In HR Analytics From XLRI

Professional Certificate Program In Supply Chain Strategy And Management

Executive Development Program In Project Management For Senior Professionals

IIM KASHIPUR Executive Development Programme In Strategic Marketing Management

Want to know how can this course help in your profile?