Thorough changes in supply chains fundamentally transform how this job is handled. Today's business landscape no longer sees a reliable supply chain that handles the movement of materials and goods at an efficient pace. Shortages and long lead times are apparent in almost every retail industry, forcing the world’s view of the supply chain into something different. Prior to the crisis and Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic panic buying, most consumers did not think of the supply chain when buying goods. But now, the supply chain is in the mainstream news cycle and a part of everyday conversation.
The following are the top trends in supply chain management today:
Supply chain management is top of mind instead of an afterthought
Previously, supply chain management was not universally thought of as a strategic task but more as a cost management job. Today, that focus shifts to a c-suite-level approach and is now considered essential for resilience. Companies that did not shift to putting supply chain management first throughout the past two years might fall behind in several ways, not just in missing out on material, but also lacking the ability to ship products from A to B or even deeper problems.
Relationships become another priority
Since the supply chain grows in complexity, deeper partnerships become more important. According to Krumland, organizations that invested in long-lasting partner relationships managed the crisis better than those who continuously went shopping on spot markets. An important part of strengthening supply chain relationships is extending visibility to partners. Additionally, collaboration in innovation can be another helpful tool in a flourishing supply chain partnership.
Businesses now incorporate sustainability
Sustainability in the supply chain is no longer an added bonus or a ploy to try and entice eco-conscious consumers. It is now an integral part of business management, especially for the supply chain. While regulations crack down on negative carbon footprints and other harmful practices, organizations adopt sustainability endeavors into their main strategies to stay compliant. But compliance and consumer interest are not the only factors driving sustainability further into the core supply chain management.
Newer technology replaces legacy systems
Go-to technologies in the supply chain changed quite a bit in the last two years, with managers investing more strategically and becoming less shy about new technology. Machinery, hardware, and software are all looked at in a different light today. The supply chain was built on legacy technologies that previously lacked the ability to interact with other, newer technologies. But now, visibility is key.
Robotics, autonomous vehicles, wearables, and other technology previously thought to live in Sci-Fi novels are now considered an everyday part of the warehouse and logistics industries. Many were helpful during times when social distancing was required and the current labor shortage.
Operation reform should be end to end
There is a massive focus on reforming the supply chain from all facets, including the government, consumers, and business managers. But while many focus on solving smaller issues one at a time or transforming certain aspects of the industry, experts urge a focus on optimizing the entirety of a supply chain operation from end to end.
The increase of data, especially quality data, in the supply chain can be vital to amending the gaps we see today. But this data needs to be shared throughout the entire operation. Supply chain managers must focus on breaking down silos and sharing data.
Risk management is vital
A recent expert column from Kevin Shuler, CEO of Quandary Consulting Group, stressed the importance of understanding how to manage risks properly, which right now is more important than ever. He explains that “over-optimizing your supply chain can be just as costly as allowing disruptions to happen.” Stockpiling inventory in case of a disruption that never comes can unnecessarily drive cost and pressure operations. However, not preparing for a spike in demand, like what was seen in the beginning days of the pandemic with panic buying, can be damaging. Supply chain managers must find the right balance in risk mitigation.