skip to Main Content
This is a photo of a ship covered in multi-colored shipping containers passing underneath a bridge that has a semi-truck driving across it. This photo represents the supply chain and recent difficulties managing the supply chain.

How to Navigate the Challenges of Supply Chain Management

Did you know that more than 4 in 5 businesses faced at least one significant supply chain disruption in 2022? If you’ve experienced supply chain issues in the last couple of years, don’t feel bad because you’re not alone.

The COVID-19 pandemic, wars, political unrest, and natural disasters have negatively impacted supply chains, sometimes causing them to spiral out of control, leading to shortages, high prices, and more.

We wrote this blog post to help you navigate these issues and face obstacles associated with supply chain management. Jim Headley, the president of M&M Quality Solutions, recently spoke at a supply chain conference hosted by Seton Hall University. You can watch a recording of the event on YouTube if you would like to gain additional insight into navigating the challenges of supply chain management!

Challenges Facing Supply Chain Management

The management of the flow of goods is a critical part of any business, but with the recent changes in the global economy, it has become increasingly challenging to manage. Here are some of the main challenges of supply chain management.

Labor Shortages

One of the biggest challenges facing supply chain management is the labor shortage. With the current economy and inflation, wages have gone up. As a result, it has become more difficult to attract workers to work in warehouses.

Shift to Virtual Work

During the pandemic, many companies decided to go 100% virtual. This shift was not as successful for a lot of supply chain businesses. They struggled to adapt mostly due to ineffective communication and collaboration.

Costs of Sustainability

While sustainability is important for businesses in the supply chain industry, it can be expensive. Many companies have struggled with the cost of sustainability initiatives.

Risk Management

From natural disasters to geopolitical instability, supply chains are exposed to a range of risks. These risks can have significant consequences, including delays and product shortages. As a result, businesses have been unable to meet customer demand.

Supply Chain Complexity

As supply chains modernize, they’ve become more complex. They often involve multiple stakeholders, including suppliers, manufacturers, wholesalers, distributors, and retailers. This complexity makes it challenging to manage and coordinate all the supply chain activities. As a result, inefficiencies may rise.

How to Navigate the Challenges of Supply Chain Management

To mitigate the risks associated with supply chain uncertainties, companies must be proactive. Here is how they can navigate the issues with supply chain management.

Diversifying Supply Chain Partners

Relying on a single supply chain partner can be risky, as any disruption can lead to delays or shortages. To build a resilient and flexible supply chain, you need to diversify your suppliers and transportation modes. When diversifying suppliers, identify and evaluate potential suppliers based on factors such as…

  • Quality
  • Reliability
  • Cost
  • Geographic location
  • Supplier’s capacity
  • Lead times
  • Risk exposure

Working with multiple suppliers can reduce your dependence on any single source. This can help mitigate the risk of supply disruptions. Ensure you also diversify your transportation. Use multiple modes such as road, rail, sea, or air.

Drafting and Implementing Contingency Plans

For supply chain businesses, the ability to navigate through challenges is a crucial skill. When unexpected challenges come your way, you should be able to turn to your contingency plan.

If you haven’t yet drafted a contingency plan, there’s no better time to start than now. Start by identifying critical functions, such as order fulfillment. After you’re done, create a continuity worker group that can address any issues that arise.

Once you develop the plan, you can implement it during unforeseen times. It will minimize the impact of disruptions on your operations for an efficient supply chain.

Investing in Technology

Technology can help you build a robust supply chain. For instance, you can use software to track inventory levels and forecast demand. This can help you anticipate potential disruptions and adjust your operations accordingly.

You can also use technology to automate certain processes. As a result, you can reduce the risk of errors and increase efficiency.

While investing in technology is beneficial, challenges can come with implementing new software. One challenge is ensuring that you have a clear and complete view of your entire supply chain—from raw materials to finished products. This can be challenging when dealing with multiple supply chain partners.

ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning) and SCM (Supply Chain Management) systems can help you address this challenge. ERP systems can help you manage your internal operations, such as inventory and production. If you want to manage the flow of goods and information between suppliers, manufacturers, and retailers, SCM systems can come in handy.

Managing Risk Through Analytics

Analytics is a useful tool in supply chain management. It can help you analyze trade data, identify trends, and optimize processes. Predictive and prescriptive analytics can help your business anticipate potential disruptions and plan accordingly.

Finding Suitable Employees

To overcome labor shortages, companies need to find suitable employees who are willing to work. They should also have the necessary skills, experience, and work ethic.

When unexpected disruptions occur, a well-trained workforce can help companies respond quickly. This can reduce the impact on your supply chain. It can also help minimize the need for rework, training, and supervision, thus reducing costs.

Offering competitive salaries and benefits can be an excellent way to attract new employees, but ensure you can afford the wages you promise them.

Transitioning to Remote Work

If your supply chain company can operate remotely, transitioning to virtual work can be a great opportunity. It will help you increase productivity and cut down costs. However, you need to ensure that employees have the necessary tools and equipment for a successful transition. They will need reliable internet connectivity, laptops, and communication tools such as video conferencing software, instant messaging, and more.

What’s more, you should establish clear guidelines and policies for remote work. Set your expectations for communication, productivity, and information security. Also, provide training to employees on best practices for managing supply chain operations remotely.

Building Strong Relationships with Suppliers

Suppliers are a critical part of the supply chain. This is why you need to develop strong relationships with them. Strong relationships with your partner can help you secure better prices, quality, and delivery times. Ensure you communicate regularly with your suppliers. What’s more, provide clear expectations and establish trust.

Take Control of Your Supply Chain: Implement These Strategies Today!

Supply chain management can be a challenging task, but with the right strategies, your company can navigate these challenges successfully. M&M Quality Solutions offers several supply chain solutions, including omnichannel fulfillment, e-commerce fulfillment, supply chain management, and several other services.

Contact us today if you would like to learn more!

Back To Top