Do You Have What It Takes? Making Smart Choices in the Supply Chain

Meagan Douglas
Mon, Sep 26, 2016
Smart choices are integral for running an effective supply chain.
Smart choices are integral for running an effective supply chain.

Smart choices lead to success, and making these types of decisions in supply chain management is crucial. Entering the field puts supply chain leaders on the right track for making positive choices. In 2013, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology  Center for Transportation & Logistics executive director, Dr. Chris Caplice, said that all of his students landed jobs just three months after graduation, according to Supply Chain Digest. Meanwhile, their average salaries were around $115,000 with generous signing bonuses.

Clearly, entering a supply chain management career path is a smart choice considering the demand for workers and the higher-than-average salaries. Those who took on these jobs must keep up that skillful decision-making to achieve success in this field. Here's why:

Cheaper Processes Might Come at a Cost
While cost containment is vital for bolstering a business's bottom line, the cheaper route isn't always the best way to go. When it comes to manufacturing, the smart choice takes price and effectiveness into account. Otherwise, the consequences could prove disastrous, according to Industry Week.

The publication cited the recent Takata airbag incident. The manufacturer decided to use ammonium nitrate in its airbag production in an effort to meet consumers' demand for lower prices. While this substance was significantly less costly than alternatives, it's known for being unstable. Whatever money Takata saved by using ammonium nitrate pales in comparison to the fines and tarnished reputation it faces, thanks to the massive recall.

According to Bloomberg, over 60 million vehicles, or 20 percent of cars on the road, were recalled because shrapnel from exploding airbags led to 13 deaths and 100-plus injuries as of June 2016. The cost containment and greater efficiency created through ammonium nitrate certainly didn't pay off.

Those in supply chain management must look at solutions from different angles. It's not just about cost or streamlining processes. Leaders must also consider the long-term consequences to make truly intelligent decisions.

Competition is Growing
Run-of-the-mill procedures and only partially thought-out decisions won't cut it in today's supply chain management world. The competition is fierce, and in order for leaders to get ahead, they need to make smart decisions that enable them to succeed.

As CIO magazine explained, customer demand is driving efficiency, and companies that cannot deliver within a few days will no doubt lose out to their faster counterparts. Additionally, one-size-fits-all processes are a concept of the past. Today's supply chain management leaders must be able to diversify their procedures to accommodate for mass customization without sacrificing efficiency and cost effectiveness.

Two Heads are Better than One
Supply chain management leaders must be smart enough to realize they don't know it all. Forbes noted that leaders must empower employees to contribute their ideas, which involves more than instilling confidence. Those in supply chain management must also give workers the tools, knowledge and training to effectively assist.

Additionally, leaders must motivate workers to become active team players. To do this, Forbes emphasized the importance of showing appreciation when employees do decide to share their ideas, as this encourages them to continue participating.

Furthermore, a leader's body language is a key contributor to whether employees will want to contribute ideas. Just as arrogance can keep leaders from understanding the benefits of collaboration, it can also push them to act in a way that discourages individuals for coming forward with their thoughts.

Once those in supply chain management have created a culture of collaboration, they must furnish teams with the appropriate tools to work together. This is where effective data collection plays an integral role. According to Supply & Demand Chain Executive, this is especially true for supplier relationships, and supply chain management needs quality data to add fluidity and coordination to these connections. Automated data collection should be integrated into the workflows of supply chains, and using solutions that align with already-existing ERP systems is ideal.

Of course, this requires replacing paper-based systems with mobile strategies, which often proves challenging. According to the RFgen white paper "Adopting Enterprise Mobility in the Supply Chain: How to Go from Paper to Barcode Scanner to Tablet with Mobile Apps," deploying a Mobile Enterprise Application Platform (MEAP) helps companies achieve all the advantages of mobility and overcome the transition's obstacles. That is, a MEAP allows organizations to use the same mobile applications across varying devices without the need of different specialized developers. It also gives more workers the opportunity to use mobile devices, which enhances productivity.

Remember, MEAPs aren't just for larger enterprises. According to the white paper, those in supply chain management who need to support three or more mobile applications, maintain three or more mobile operating systems or integrate with three or more back-end data sources could benefit from a MEAP.

Smart choices are integral in any field, but making intelligent decisions in supply chain management is crucial to avoiding costly mistakes and getting ahead of the competition.

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