It is the beginning of the year and it is the perfect time to pay a visit to the doctor to make sure you are ready to tackle the 2017 new year head-on. Just as everyone should have an annual physical check-up, businesses should also take a moment to assess their business goals for the year ahead, including a supply chain health check.
Given the supply chain is the backbone of many businesses, it’s never a bad idea to perform a quick health check regardless of how well you think you are doing. Additionally, it wouldn’t hurt to have an external opinion that might as well help us identify and tackle some opportunity areas that could lead us to improvement. You can start by asking yourself the following questions:
- Have you identified any gaps in your process (as small as they look) and are you doing anything about it?
We often run into different types of flaws in our processes, but due to lack of time, manpower or any other type of resources, we simply ignore them or even worse, get used to them! Performing a cost benefit analysis and translating these flaws into business objectives might lead us to considerable time and costs savings in our process. You might not see a big difference until you put all of these tiny gaps together that may seem harmless alone.
- Is there any double handling happening in our process we could avoid?
How many times are your orders touched before they are released? There are many places where double handling can occur and we might have not even noticed yet. Identify these occurrences and try to automate as much as possible.
- Are there any non- added value processes we can get rid of?
Sometimes, there are processes in an organization that could be taken out or added as a part of another process in order to simplify, but it might be easy to think “it’s just a part of doing business”. Well, can it be done better and more efficiently in turn being more cost-effective? An audit of processes can give you the answer.
- Is it time for a technology upgrade?
Even though not all businesses, processes and operations have a budget for a complete technology refresh, there are certain solutions that can be achieved without having to generate a greater expense. For example, adding online tools to your website such as online forms for quotes, will always be seen as added value in the eyes of your customers, and it can be used to simplify requests processing. This additional feature may eliminate the likelihood of entry errors as well.
- Have you checked on, aligned and evaluated you KPIs lately?
As obvious as it sounds, keeping your indicators up to date and aligned as your processes and organization evolve is vital to control improvements. So take your time to think them through.
- Are you sure your transportation strategy is as efficient as possible?
Yes, all businesses have their own requirements, but it might not be such a bad idea to evaluate your transportation options once in a while as this industry is constantly shifting and you don’t want to be left behind or worse, miss out on opportunities to improve your process.
- Have you effectively sorted out your suppliers?
When was the last time you performed a benchmark? Do you often try to negotiate based on performance? Do you keep back up options handy? Vendors are always looking to be a step ahead, maybe it’s time to take the high ground.
- How well are you taking care of the heart of the organization?
Do you often provide your staff with training and certifications? Have you made sure you have the right people in the right positions making the most of their skillset? Is communication effective throughout the organization? Are leaders translating challenges into business objectives? We might be too caught up in our pursuit of success at times that we could end up neglecting the engine of the business.
- Last but certainly not least… our customers!
Follow up, feedback, surveys! There are tons of ways to make sure your clients are happy. You cannot start an engine without fuel. Criticism or negative feedback might be a little scary, but think of it as an opportunity for improvement and proactively respond to the suggestion. Would you rather end up thinking: “If only they would’ve told me” after a customer has stopped ordering?
Just as a medical check-up, there a lot of excuses to avoid doing it, but at the end of the day only those who give it a shot, will be closer to success. Let’s be honest, who wouldn’t like an improvement? It is in the best interest of your organization to identify any problems or inefficiencies early on in order to thrive and succeed in an ever-changing industry.
At EP America, we have helped companies to identify growth opportunities in their logistics strategies based on our extensive expertise in various transportation modes, our sense of time urgency and our dedicated customer care.