Submitted on Thu, 2014-07-31
By Jim Laverty

The fastest growing and most profitable supply chains all contain the following five traits that ensure success.

The 5 Key Traits of Every Successful Supply Chain

Start to view your organization’s supply chain as a competitive advantage. By embracing innovation, empowering your workers, and letting data run freely through your company, you can dramatically improve your real-time decision making and your bottom line. Here are the five key ways to learn from the best companies by making your supply chain become an engine of growth throughout your entire organization.


Successful Supply Chains Embrace Innovation

Supply chain leaders are always looking for the next big thing to improve their operations. From adopting new technologies before anybody else to experimenting with new processes, supply chain leaders need to keep ahead of the competition. Just look at some of the differences between supply chain leaders and the average supply chain, as discovered in a survey from Deloitte:

  • 96% recognize innovation as an “extremely important” factor of growth, compared to a 65% industry average
  • 75% use mobile technologies, compared to a 30% industry average
  • 65% use RFID tagging, compared a 27% industry average
  • 48% use 3D Printing extensively, compared to a 13% industry average

“The ability to effectively innovate has emerged as a key attribute of successful supply chains. It’s crucial for leaders to keep a close eye on emerging technologies and have a bold strategy for weaving these into their operations. Furthermore, while many innovation efforts focus on new products, those innovations tend to be the easiest to imitate, so business model innovations focused on improving networks, processes, services or channels can have a much greater and more sustainable impact. Many executives are daunted by innovation or feel that it’s an overhyped buzzword. It’s true that many innovation efforts do fail, but the good news is that there are specific systems and disciplines that, when applied effectively, can greatly improve innovation success rates.” — Kelly Marchese, principal, Deloitte

Three big innovations the leaders of today are jumping at for their supply chains include:

  • Cloud Technology — using cutting-edge cloud tools allows you to reduce costs and increase productivity throughout your supply chain.
  • Integration — using cutting-edge integration tools allows every system in your organization to freely share information, for increased visibility and efficiency.
  • Mobility — using cutting-edge mobile technology in your supply chain over more traditional industrial equipment can cut related costs by more than 90%.

Don’t be afraid to take calculated risks to improve your growth potential by implementing emerging technologies or changing your business models. Don’t get left behind.

Successful Supply Chains are Data-driven

Gathering data on your supply chain and gleaning actionable information from that data is the key to growth. 75% of supply chain leaders use data optimization software (compared to the 34% industry average) and 67% of leaders use data visualization software (compared to the 28% industry average).

Tracking the movement of your supply chain will help you increase efficiencies throughout your operation. You’ll be able to handle materials faster, optimize floor space, and forecast for the future better, amongst many other things. With real-time data at your fingertips, you can be confident that you’re making the right decisions at all times to keep costs down and to continuously improve productivity.

Nothing allows you to take the calculated risks to embrace innovation quite like becoming a data-driven operation. By forecasting the needs of your business and industry at large, and matching those to the technologies that can best exceed your needs will take your business far. Relying on analytics will help ensure you choose the next generation’s equivalent of the VHS and not Betamax.

Successful Supply Chains Empower Employees

Through effective labor management, supply chain leaders are able to empower their top workers, making them more invested in the success of the company as a whole. By incentivizing performance (you can actually reduce costs by paying your labor more) and carefully tracking every position on your floor to determine bottlenecks, you can control the largest variable cost in your supply chain.

More than effectively managing people, the most successful organizations put their employees within the supply chain in the best place to succeed by supplying them with the best tools to get the job done. Either through embracing intuitive and easy to use devices like smartphones or by utilizing multilingual systems, the best organizations make sure all of their employees have everything they need to truly shine.

Successful Supply Chains Promote Transparency

The companies that use their supply chain as an engine of growth for their whole organization freely share data throughout the entire organization. The supply chain is not siloed off in its own world. Everything is connected to increases the efficiency and profitability of your entire business. Complete tracking within your supply chain also enables your organization to be more accountable and compliant. From maintaining lot control and keeping tabs on expiration dates, transparency within your supply chain can go a long ways towards minimizing financial and reputational losses in the event of a recall.

Successful Supply Chains Are Prepared for the Unexpected

The more things change, the more your organization needs to be able to adapt to solve new problems. The most successful organizations are able to apply their values and vision for the company to the solutions needed to overcome unexpected hurdles. This means that thorough planning is required to rise to the occasion. Successful supply chains are intricately plotted out to take advantage of new opportunities and balance risks to make the best decisions every time. It’s a simple equation: Preparation + Perspiration = Supply Chain Profitability and Growth.

Having actionable plans in place will inform all of your business decisions, and trickle efficiency improvements throughout the organization. Embracing innovation will lead to choosing the correct systems and software that can scale up with your growth. Empowering your workers keeps everybody at the top of their game and motivated to and invested in working on a solution. Transparency and data help you discover hidden inefficiencies that can be corrected to improve your profitability and they can root out problems before they even start to impact your production. Everything ties together, leading to your supply chain becoming a high powered engine for profitable growth.

Learn More About Running a Profitable Supply Chain

Learn more about how you can reduce costs by exploring some of our other blog posts and giving our experts a call to talk about how your organization can run a more profitable supply chain.

Blog Type: 
Innovative Technology Solutions