Optimization of the supply chain


(SCM) is the active management of supply chain activities to maximize customer value and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage. It represents a conscious effort by the supply chain firms to develop and run supply chains in the most effective & efficient ways possible. Supply chain activities cover everything from product development, sourcing, production, and logistics, as well as the information systems needed to coordinate these activities.

The concept of Supply Chain Management (SCM) is based on two core ideas:

1. The first is that practically every product that reaches an end user represents the cumulative effort of multiple organizations. These organizations are referred to collectively as the supply chain.
2. The second idea is that while supply chains have existed for a long time, most organizations have only paid attention to what was happening within their “four walls.” Few businesses understood, much less managed, the entire chain of activities that ultimately delivered products to the final customer. The result was disjointed and often ineffective supply chains.

The organizations that make up the supply chain are “linked” together through physical flows and information flows

Physical flows
involve the transformation, movement, and storage of goods and materials. They are the most visible piece of the supply chain. But just as important are information flows.

Information Flows
Information flows allow the various supply chain partners to coordinate their long-term plans, and to control the day-to-day flow of goods and materials up and down the supply chain.

Why SCM strategy is important for an Organization

Supply Chain Strategies are the critical backbone to Business Organizations today. Effective Market coverage, Availability of Products at locations that hold the key to revenue recognition depends upon the effectiveness of Supply Chain Strategy rolled out. Very simply stated, when a product is introduced in the market and advertised, the entire market in the country and all the sales counters need to have the product where the customer can buy and take delivery.
Any glitch in the product not being available at the right time can result in the drop in customer interest and demand which can be disastrous. Transportation network design and management assume importance to support sales and marketing strategy.
Inventory control and inventory visibility are two very critical elements in any operations for these are the cost drivers and directly impact the bottom lines on the balance sheet. Inventory means value and is an asset to the company. Every business has a standard for inventory turnaround that is optimum for the business. Inventory turnaround refers to the number of times the inventory is sold and replaced over a period of twelve months. The health of the inventory turn relates to the health of business.
In a global scenario, the finished goods inventory is held at many locations and distribution centers, managed by third parties. A lot of inventory would also be in the pipeline in transportation, besides the inventory with distributors and retail stocking points. Since any loss of inventory anywhere in the supply chain would result in loss of value, effective control of inventory and visibility of inventory gains importance as a key factor of Supply Chain Management function.

Supply Chain Management – Advantages

In this era of globalization where companies compete to provide the best quality products to the customers and satisfy all their demands, supply chain management plays a very important role. All the companies are highly dependent on effective supply chain process.
Let’s take a look at the major advantages of supply chain. The key benefits of supply chain management are as follows −
● Develops better customer relationship and service.
● Creates better delivery mechanisms for products and services in demand with minimum delay.
● Improvises productivity and business functions.
● Minimizes warehouse and transportation costs.
● Minimizes direct and indirect costs.
● Assists in achieving shipping of right products to the right place at the right time.
● Enhances inventory management, supporting the successful execution of just-in-time stock models.
● Assists companies in adapting to the challenges of globalization, economic upheaval, expanding consumer expectations, and related differences.
● Assists companies in minimizing waste, driving out costs, and achieving efficiencies throughout the supply chain process.
These were some of the major advantages of supply chain management. After taking a quick glance at the concept and advantages on supply chain management, let us take a look at the main goals of this management.

SCM – Process
Supply chain management is a process used by companies to ensure that their supply chain is efficient and cost-effective. A supply chain is the collection of steps that a company takes to transform raw materials into a final product. The five basic components of supply chain management are discussed below −
The initial stage of the supply chain process is the planning stage. We need to develop a plan or strategy in order to address how the products and services will satisfy the demands and necessities of the customers. In this stage, the planning should mainly focus on designing a strategy that yields maximum profit.

For managing all the resources required for designing products and providing services, a strategy has to be designed by the companies. Supply chain management mainly focuses on planning and developing a set of metrics.

Develop (Source)
After planning, the next step involves developing or sourcing. In this stage, we mainly concentrate on building a strong relationship with suppliers of the raw materials required for production. This involves not only identifying dependable suppliers but also determining different planning methods for shipping, delivery, and payment of the product.
Companies need to select suppliers to deliver the items and services they require to develop their product. So in this stage, the supply chain managers need to construct a set of pricing, delivery and payment processes with suppliers and also create the metrics for controlling and improving the relationships.
Finally, the supply chain managers can combine all these processes for handling their goods and services inventory. This handling comprises receiving and examining shipments, transferring them to the manufacturing facilities and authorizing supplier payments.

The third step in the supply chain management process is the manufacturing or making of products that were demanded by the customer. In this stage, the products are designed, produced, tested, packaged, and synchronized for delivery.
Here, the task of the supply chain manager is to schedule all the activities required for manufacturing, testing, packaging and preparation for delivery. This stage is considered as the most metric-intensive unit of the supply chain, where firms can gauge the quality levels, production output and worker productivity.

The fourth stage is the delivery stage. Here the products are delivered to the customer at the destined location by the supplier. This stage is basically the logistics phase, where customer orders are accepted and delivery of the goods is planned. The delivery stage is often referred as logistics, where firms collaborate for the receipt of orders from customers, establish a network of warehouses, pick carriers to deliver products to customers and set up an invoicing system to receive payments.

The last and final stage of supply chain management is referred as the return. In the stage, defective or damaged goods are returned to the supplier by the customer. Here, the companies need to deal with customer queries and respond to their complaints etc. This stage often tends to be a problematic section of the supply chain for many companies. The planners of supply chain need to discover a responsive and flexible network for accepting damaged, defective and extra products back from their customers and facilitating the return process for customers who have issues with delivered products.

SCM – Process Flow
Supply chain management can be defined as a systematic flow of materials, goods, and related information among suppliers, companies, retailers, and consumers.
There are three different types of flow in supply chain management −
● Material flow
● Information/Data flow
● Money flow

Material Flow
Includes a smooth flow of an item from the producer to the consumer. This is possible through various warehouses among distributors, dealers and retailers.
The main challenge we face is in ensuring that the material flows as inventory quickly without any stoppage through different points in the chain. The quicker it moves, the better it is for the enterprise, as it minimizes the cash cycle.
The item can also flow from the consumer to the producer for any kind of repairs, or exchange for an end of life material. Finally, completed goods flow from customers to their consumers through different agencies. A process known as 3PL is in place in this scenario. There is also an internal flow within the customer company.

Information Flow
Information/data flow comprises the request for quotation, purchase order, monthly schedules, engineering change requests, quality complaints and reports on supplier performance from customer side to the supplier.
From the producer’s side to the consumer’s side, the information flow consists of the presentation of the company, offer, confirmation of purchase order, reports on action taken on deviation, dispatch details, report on inventory, invoices, etc.
For a successful supply chain, regular interaction is necessary between the producer and the consumer. In many instances, we can see that other partners like distributors, dealers, retailers, logistic service providers participate in the information network. In addition to this, several departments at the producer and consumer side are also a part of the information loop. Here we need to note that the internal information flow with the customer for in-house manufacture is different.

Money Flow
On the basis of the invoice raised by the producer, the clients examine the order for correctness. If the claims are correct, money flows from the clients to the respective producer. Flow of money is also observed from the producer side to the clients in the form of debit notes.
In short, to achieve an efficient and effective supply chain, it is essential to manage all three flows properly with minimal efforts. It is a difficult task for a supply chain manager to identify which information is critical for decision-making. Therefore, he or she would prefer to have the visibility of all flows on the click of a button.