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What Is Supply Chain Strategy? Developing and Optimizing Your Supply Chain Network

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Companies today are challenged with finding ways to enable their global supply chains to provide their customers with the right amount of product, in the right place, and at the right time, in efficient, flexible and cost-conscious manners.  

Addressing these challenges today is not possible without looking at and optimizing your company’s supply chain strategy. Today’s market is constantly changing and having a supply chain planning strategy that considers your network’s entire end-to-end structure and capabilities is crucial to your business’ short- and long-term success. 

Below, you’ll learn more about just what supply chain strategy is and find out how having the right strategy implemented can benefit both your business and customers by increasing supply chain efficiency.

Table of Contents

What is Supply Chain Strategy?

Supply chain strategy is a set or series of policies intended to help optimize end-to-end supply chain capabilities and processes. This means your supply chain strategy can (and should) consider all facets of your supply chain network, from network design all the way to workforce management.

Why Is Supply Chain Strategy Important?

With everchanging customer demands, a well-developed supply chain execution strategy is more important than ever to have in an organization’s short- and long-term business plan. Today’s market requires organizations to have adaptable, agile supply chains to meet customer demands. Without an integrated and agile supply chain management strategy, supply chain can quickly negatively impact your business’ bottom line.

However, adopting the right supply chain strategy will help you support your business strategy goals, understand your historical data, know where your inventory is, adapt to changing demand and more, while also helping to reduce costs and improve customer service.

What to Consider When Developing Your Supply Chain Strategy

There are five key capabilities to consider that will help give you an inclusive view of your end-to-end network when beginning to develop your supply chain strategy:

  1. Supply Sense: What’s possible in your supply chain
  2. Supply Response: Operations that make things happen, such as manufacturing and asset management
  3. Deciding and Committing: Orchestrating your end-to-end capabilities
  4. Demand Sense: Learning, knowing and monitoring what your customers want
  5. Demand Response: Fulfillment processes that helps give customers what they want

In order to develop your optimized end-to-end supply chain strategy, it is critical to develop and integrate all five of these capabilities.

Where Can You Optimize Your Supply Chain Strategy?

Within the capabilities mentioned above, there are several areas you can look at to implement your supply chain strategies around. From your actual network design all the way to your workforce management, optimizing and building strategies around the following areas of your supply chain can make significant impacts to your business and its customers.

Supply Chain Network Design

Also known as strategic planning, supply chain network design leverages simulation tools to replicate a company’s transactional inbound and outbound data to understand the cost and time it will take to deliver goods to market.

Demand Planning

Meeting service requirements and sales targets requires you to consistently offer the right product, through the right channel, at the right time, place and price. In order to do so, you need to have the right demand forecast planning tools at your disposal.

Inventory Optimization

Proper inventory management helps you determine the best product position in your network in order to maintain service levels while reducing overall holding costs. This helps you to understand your cost of inventory relative to the sales of your product. Inventory optimization, or product flow optimization, also helps your business by:

  • Improving inventory turns
  • Reducing capital risks
  • Reducing distribution center storage requirements

Sales and Operations Planning

Sales and operations planning is the process by which a business achieves long-term synchronization across every stage of the supply chain. Through careful planning and execution, businesses should be able to align objectives across departments while matching consumer demand with supply from manufacturers.

Workforce Management

Labor accounts for some of the most significant portions of operational costs in any organization. Organizations can help to optimize their workforce operations by implementing Lean processes, new labor management systems, engineering or creating labor standards or training your workforce.

Supply Chain Strategy Examples

Below are just a few strategies you can incorporate into your overall network strategy:

  • Incorporate demand forecast-driven strategic planning and operating models. As demand-prediction capabilities and modeling continue to evolve, allowing supply chain managers and teams to use tools to take quicker and more automated action in adjusting their supply chain.
  • Build an adaptive and agile supply chain. Changing customer demand is putting more stress on supply chains than ever, thus having a supply chain that is flexible and agile in nature will make it easier to adjust to your network’s change in supply and demand.
  • Optimize product design and management for supply, manufacturing and sustainability. Integrating your product design and management with your supply chain manufacturing and sustainability processes can improve your product’s overall time to market, increase product revenue, and reduce expenses.
  • Align your supply chain with business strategy goals through integrated sales, operations, and corporate business planning to increase your business’ agility and execution.
  • Embed and make sustainability a priority in your supply chain operations to help incorporate responsible environmental and social practices.
  • Adopt emerging technologies to ensure reliability and predictability with product supply to minimize product costs.

Get Started with Your Supply Chain Strategy Today

If you have questions or are ready to get started on evaluating or implementing your organization’s supply chain planning strategy, contact us today.

Let’s have a conversation™.

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