Year after year, the largest companies in the world are surveyed in an effort to discover the secret to their success. One key element that pops up across all of these surveys is supply chain effectiveness and warehouse management. When we read about these companies and how they are managing to deliver incredible products to their customers day in and day out, we are able to see a few trends in the way they handle their supply chain. Here are a few of the secrets we have discovered:
Efficiency Matters A Whole Lot
Actually, this may not be much of a secret anymore, but the point is that efficiency is still the number one priority of most warehouses today. The real secret is that efficiency is not the same as speed. An efficient warehouse is not just quick, but it is also accurate, clean and well organized. If you are trying to squeeze efficiency out of your supply chain by driving people to work faster and faster, you're probably missing the bigger picture. What they really need are tools and an environment that enable them to do their jobs well. Speed comes later.
Flexibility is the Real Secret Ingredient
Suppose you've already invested heavily in warehouse management software and your team has become highly efficient at doing today's tasks. What happens in a few months when trends change and your team needs to adjust? Taking your supply chain to the next level requires agility and flexibility on the ground, but it also demands that your management team be proactive about making changes as your industry shifts. It all starts at the top. Your WMS and analytics are providing you with all of the data you need to predict changes in the field. It's up to you to strategize and direct your troops to take on the changing landscape. With new information should always come a review of your current strategy to determine whether or not it is still good enough. Companies who fail to address changes—or fail to remain flexible enough to handle them—tend to find themselves reaching a ceiling prematurely. Don't sell yourself short.
Playing Well with Others
Of course, we know that your supply chain is not limited to just your own warehouses. If you hope to play on the global field competitively, you need to work closely with your vendors and other partners. One of the most important aspects of this is setting out clear expectations from the outset about your long-term strategy and goals. If even one vendor is failing to hold up their end of the deal, it could be keeping you from seeing your full potential. In real terms, this means they need to meet minimum standards for quality, consistency, integration, growth, and support. The trade-off is that they can grow alongside you, and should be more than willing to take on the challenge.
These are just a few of the most common secrets to global supply chain success that we see across today's biggest companies. While your warehouse management team may be small today, you have the perfect opportunity to institute these strategies now so that they become embedded in your long-term success.