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3 Common Supply Chain Growing Pains and How to Solve Them

Michael Wilson | Dec 7, 2016

One of the most common phrases we associate with supply chain planning is, famously enough, "supply and demand." However, what happens when the demand overshadows the supply, and ...

One of the most common phrases we associate with supply chain planning is, famously enough, "supply and demand." However, what happens when the demand overshadows the supply, and the given resources just can't keep up with the increased flow? Developing a business to fit a larger scale can be daunting, and if adequate preparations are not made to meet an influx of potential progress, every business aspect can suffer from the pressure placed on it.

By means of perspective, this pressure can be an opportunity to overcome difficult times and thrive despite them. Still, businesses need to progress at a pace in which supply chains can flourish without residual issues that will hold them back. Here are some common issues faced and solutions to consider preemptively for the next phase of supply chain planning:

Problem #1: Leadership Skills

With more business comes greater responsibility, and juggling more work without the proper know-how to manage it all is not a smart way to enter the arena of big business.

Solution: Make sure your current management is up to the task. 

Before putting out feelers for more experienced professionals, invest in your current employees to expand their business prowess. Pursuing certification courses with your current, trusted employees is actually a simple process; there is a litany of options to choose from when selecting certification courses and license tests for various areas of supply chain management. Courses can include a CSCP title (Certified Supply Chain Professional) or a status CPIM (Certified in Product and Inventory Management) and many more. Most are available through various universities and companies that will match employees with their chosen category of management, and if a company acts on it early enough, everyone will be ready for the shift, tackling growth with the proper gumption.

Problem #2: Staying Agile

Sometimes a supply chain cannot rely on its associated means of production. This could relate to the food industry, regarding crops or animals tainted by disease that will not yield quality products. Financial institutions can also take a tumble, leaving different organizations and business ventures unsure of what their next move is, and reluctant to proceed. Even materials such as plastic or clothing can fall short upon distribution, based on environmental factors that prohibit production.

Solution: Focus on what is working, and adjust accordingly.

No initial problem is permanent, but how companies work around them can determine the progress made during difficult times, whatever the industry. The deep-set involvement of the supply chain industry impacts more than just how each system runs; the economy and its trends play a role, and staying informed about how that affects your business is a key factor in executing smart strategies. If beef isn't selling well, emphasize chicken. If a bank's credit card plan is proving unpopular, take in customer feedback to shift policies around, and if purple socks aren't selling well, switch back to blue. Allowances can be made in times of uncertainty, which will allow for the supply chain to regain leverage in a plateau.

Problem #3: Adaptability

An outdated agenda can prove detrimental to a company that is hoping to scale. The incentive to modernize or change can be difficult to generate, but for the sake of success, changes are crucial.

Solution: Adapt on a small scale, but quickly. 

To borrow a cliché: Rome wasn't built in a day. From something as small as a logo change to an entire manufacturing makeover, start with confidence! Be aware of what shifts are being implemented at every phase of growth, because integrating new ways to streamline your supply chain is a crucial element to success. Supply chain planning is imperative, and procurement strategies can be adjusted by incorporating new technology that can handle the pressure of imbalance, as well as equipping your employees with the tools they need to succeed.

All of these moves might seem risky, but expanding any business is a worthwhile risk in itself, with or without stretch marks. Celebrate the opportunities to move forward and good luck!

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