Supply chains have transformed over the last decade amid changing customer expectations, the rise of e-commerce, and logistics and trade pressures. With those changes comes a new mandate for the chief supply chain officer (CSCO).

The CSCO’s role used to be a lot simpler – get products from point A to point B with the least amount of difficulty or cost. Today, CSCOs have much more to do, overseeing the entire global supply chain while continually evaluating the latest technologies and solutions.

When CSCOs do their jobs right, the organizational benefits can be big. A recent survey by Gartner found that 89% of supply chain professionals plan to invest in agility over the next two years, with the goal of improving their ability to quickly and reliably sense and respond to unanticipated changes without sacrificing cost or quality.

To achieve that level of results, a supply chain officer must be innovative. That includes utilizing modern solutions and trusted business partners to complement their in-house capabilities. So how do they do that? Here are four common traits of a high-functioning modern supply chain.

#1: Network Optimization

Instrumental in controlling costs and managing complex operations, network optimization is paramount to supply chain success. Not only does the optimized network yield higher profit margins, but it provides a better overall customer experience as well. 

Capacity analysis, network modeling and network design are all fundamental steps CSCOs must take when developing an optimization strategy. Networks designed based on deep comprehension and alignment with the organization’s goals and objectives enable optimal performance during unstable market conditions.

#2: Right-Sized Warehousing

Securing the right amount of warehouse space is a balancing act – you want enough to meet needs during seasonal upswings, without overpaying for space. Developing a warehouse strategy starts with identifying the gaps between existing space and requirements. Thorough capacity analysis is the first step towards understanding if your company has too little (or too much) warehouse space based on current and future requirements.

Once capacity gaps have been identified, CSCOs must consider every available option for optimizing warehouse space. Options include, but are not limited to, relocation, facility expansion or redesign, or enlisting 3PL providers. Smart CSCOs will analyze every option, weighing the costs, benefits and implications of each to arrive at a solution with the best bottom-line impact. Implementing the right warehouse strategy will make your organization more agile amid changing needs.

#3: Supply Chain Technology

To maintain the type of oversight CSCOs need to have over operations, visibility at all supply chain stages is critical. Choosing the right technology for your operations is key to unlocking true visibility.

Your tools should align with your operational requirements and build upon your existing processes. Selecting the right technology starts with a comprehensive review of IT system capabilities and process requirements. This will provide an understanding of which tools are compatible with existing systems and provide features that will improve data and product flows while minimizing or eliminating constraints. While it would be easy to select tools based on price alone, what’s more important is understanding the return on investment. Depending on your needs, a best-in-class platform could provide capabilities that justify a larger investment. Similarly, choosing a best-in-class platform with a majority of features that will go unused is a poor use of budget.

In a time when new supply chain technologies are being introduced every day, each more feature-heavy than the next, CSCOs must select their tools based on organizational needs and added value.

#4: Optimized Labor Strategy

With labor shortages plaguing the industry, CSCOs are being challenged to keep operations moving, despite demand exceeding supply. An optimized labor strategy increases productivity, reduces costs and enables companies to be more flexible in the face of labor shortages.

Potential strategies range from reducing the need for human capital with automated systems to relocating operations to less competitive labor markets. With labor representing one of the largest expenses in supply chains, implementing a labor strategy that allows your business to succeed in the midst of labor shortages is key to future-proofing your supply chain.

Supply Chain Strategies Are Not One-Size-Fits-All

So where should CSCOs focus their efforts today? Creating a high-performing supply chain that can withstand disruptions is bigger than any single factor. It takes a blend of tools, processes and people to build a supply chain that’s ready to drive results for the entire organization.

The team at Tompkins Solutions can help. As a true end-to-end supply chain services firm, we work closely with supply chain leaders to understand their unique business models and identify solutions based on their specific goals and requirements. We are agnostic in our approach, delivering strategies based on the greatest return on investment for your business. Contact us today to learn how we can help your business optimize supply chain operations.

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Tompkins Solutions Staff
Tompkins Solutions Staff

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