Potential supply chain issues and how to handle them
Businesses depend on the supply chain in order to keep everything flowing and operating as it should. It’s almost a science to get the supply chain operating just right as business owners need to factor in everything from shipping (import and exports), the manufacturing process, inventory, materials, logistics, and more. All it takes is one small thing to get out of whack and suddenly the whole supply chain suffers and starts to crumble, like a domino effect.
This is exactly why businesses are encouraged to take a proactive approach with their supply chain, identifying potential issues before they become a problem and having a game plan in place on how to deal with them. So, what are some of the most common supply issues, and how can you best handle them? Here’s a closer look.
Ballooning operating costs
One potential issue that can go wrong with the supply chain is ballooning operating costs. This increase in operating costs either needs to be absorbed by the company, or passed along to the consumer, neither of which are good answers. This is exactly why it's so important to procure reasonable costs on your raw materials needed, labor, and overhead costs. Keeping these in check will help ensure that the costs don't get out of hand.
Sometimes increases will be passed along to you that are out of your control, such as suppliers raising rates on materials. You can either source your materials elsewhere, or you can find ways to make up for this increase without a negative effect on the business or consumer. This is when it can be helpful to ensure your warehouse and systems are as efficient as possible.
A breakdown in supplier relationships
Supplier relationships are another key essential to a supply chain that hums along as it should. If there are any breakdowns in this relationship it can lead to all kinds of issues. Some of the common problems can include materials that are taking too long to arrive, poor quality materials, and specs that aren’t being met.
It doesn’t hurt to check in with your suppliers on a fairly regular basis just to be sure all is good, you are on the same page, and that you are getting the exact materials you need. If you do experience issues, it’s never a good idea to let them slide; instead, address them immediately so they don’t continue to snowball.
Customer service takes a hit
The minute that customer service takes a hit and starts to suffer, red flags need to go up. At the end of the day, your customers are the backbone of the business. Without them the business would cease to exist. What this means is that they need to be treated as a top priority at all times, which means providing them with high quality products consistently, on-time, and at a reasonable cost.
Customer service also needs to be reflected in terms of how you deal with complaints and issues. This is when your customer service department can truly shine, as it can take what would potentially be a negative situation and turn it right around. You want to be sure that you are able to hang on to that customer and not lose them. Every customer just wants to know they are being heard and respected.
Lack of qualified/skilled staff
You can be using all the latest machinery, software, materials, and plans, but without the proper staff, it’s impossible to get your supply chain humming. Unfortunately, many companies are feeling a real lack of qualified and skilled staff at the moment. Your staff is the face of the business, and they are what drive the success.
So, what’s the answer? First you want to be sure that you are keeping staff retention as a priority. When you do find qualified and skilled staff, you want to do everything you can to keep them. This can include competitive wages, insurance benefit plans, extra vacation time, and other incentives. You also want to be sure you are creating a culture that is inclusive, cooperative, professional, and respectful. These traits can go a long way in helping to keep staff.
In terms of filling those open vacancies in your company, again there are a number of steps you can take. First, make sure you are promoting from within - it could be that you already have the right people on-hand, it’s just a matter of noticing them. Also, you want to be posting on as many online job boards as possible. You can even choose those that are geared towards the positions you are filling.
Other tips include talking to local universities and colleges to get the buzz out there, contacting professional staffing companies or even recruiters, and encouraging employees to make recommendations if they know of people that would be a good fit.
Arm yourself with knowledge
One of the best ways to tackle supply chain issues, no matter what the issue may be, is to understand what goes into creating an effective supply chain in the first place. This is where knowledge and formal training can really pay off in a big way. Getting your masters in supply chain management through a top school like Kettering University Online will give you the foundations you need. You'll learn all there is to know about import and exports, transport, manufacturing, and logistics management.
By getting your masters, you'll be able to set yourself up for a successful future as a supply chain manager, whether that be for your own company or working for another one.
Being prepared for what may come your way
At the end of the day, it’s all about being prepared for anything that may come your way when it comes to the supply chain. Getting that formal education can certainly give you the foundations you need to be successful in supply chain management. Recognizing what the most common issues are in the supply chain will also allow you to have a crisis management plan in place.