6 Things Supply Chain Managers Must Do Before Year-End
In recent years, supply chain management relied heavily on data-driven strategies rooted in historical demand patterns. However, the volatility and disruptions in the supply chain landscape over the past few years have rendered traditional data-centric approaches less effective. The ongoing market fluctuations, persistent delays, and evolving global dynamics have upended conventional supply chain norms, intensifying challenges for businesses, particularly as they navigate through the demands of the current holiday season.
It is now time to focus on the future because how supply chains prepare now sets the tone for success in the year ahead. Here are the must-do tasks Supply Chain Managers need to accomplish before year-end to prevent a hectic launch into 2024:
1. Examine 2023’s Strategy
Did operations run as smoothly as can be controlled? Were the supply chain’s methods and products as cost-effective as could be? Is there a need for expanding or diversifying vendors? Revisit main decisions from the past year and explore what other alternatives could have improved the process. Evaluate how well the supply chain was prepared for material shortages and decern a plan to improve these areas moving forward.
2. Evaluate Crisis Management Strategies
Evaluate how effective the supply chain’s crisis management strategy was over the last two years and adjust as needed. Consider auditing the team’s SOP’s, technology resources, apparent skills gaps, and training and development opportunities.
3. Audit Inventory
Many supply chains are operating with slashed inventory due to material shortages, and this could potentially have serious ramifications on operating lines. Take time to do a full inventory audit and create a game plan to mitigate delays. Strategize new methods to ensure there is a strong and diverse pipeline with multiple sources of needed materials for the future.
4. Improve External Relationship Management
A supply chain relies heavily on its connections with outside suppliers, carriers and vendors. While many have opted for virtual meetings for the last 1-2 years, it is time to get creative. Is there a better way to reengage contacts to keep relationships with suppliers strong? Or could supply chain leaders preemptively plan on-site visits for 2024? Identify ways to improve communication and conflict resolution to continue fostering beneficial connections outside of the organization.
5. Connect with Staff
Considering many businesses are encountering staffing shortages, it is even more important than ever to stay up-to-date with employee mental health and engagement efforts to help avoid turnover. Brainstorm creative ways to improve retention in 2024, if needed. Beyond just connecting with staff individually, find ways to keep the team culture strong.
6. Create a Hiring Plan
With extensive supply chain disruptions throughout the year and leading into the holiday season, many supply chain teams are in need of talent to help support operations. Some especially in-demand titles include logistics coordinator, import/export coordinator and customer logistics manager. While talent may be especially important to find in a seasonal capacity to help handle additional demand this holiday season, supply chain managers should assess their teams and ensure they are adding the necessary headcount.
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