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6 Things Supply Chain Managers Must Do Before Year-End

For decades, one of the defining characteristics of supply chain management was data-driven decision making with a focus on historical patterns of demand. With the many supply chain disruptions and shortages of various materials this year, relying on patterns and data has become increasingly difficult and insufficient. The fluctuating market and myriad of delays has turned the global supply chain on its head in 2021, leaving businesses scrambling, especially while heading into the busy holiday season. 

While this was an especially challenging year for many supply chain managers, 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 2022:  


1. Examine 2021’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 2022? 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 2022, 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. 


Let us help check one thing off the to-do list with helping identify key, in-demand talent. Connect with us today to find out how our team can help build yours.