When it comes to increasing profits, most middle market companies focus on sales. While certainly important, the fastest way to increase profits is actually through better pricing and cost control. In fact, a $1 cost reduction for most companies offers the same bottom-line benefit as a $10 revenue increase. Most middle market companies, however, don’t have someone on staff with the necessary expertise in supply chain management to recognize when the supply chain is causing an issue. Supply chain optimization is an incredibly complex puzzle that many companies don’t have the time, resources, or knowledge to tackle.
So how do you know if your money troubles stem from an underperforming or even broken supply chain? Here are the top seven signs.
Who on your executive leadership team is responsible for inventory? If the answer is “no one” or “it depends on the day,” then you have a problem. When no one is responsible for inventory management, no one is held accountable for it. Without a dedicated inventory manager, inventory optimization and SKU rationalization never occur. And it’s likely you don’t have a sales, inventory, and operation planning (SIOP) process, which is vital to the growth of a company. By putting someone in place to manage inventory and develop an SIOP process, you can correct the costly inefficiencies that are cutting into your profits.
If the cost of building and managing your inventory is growing at a faster rate than your sales or if your supply and demand are out of balance, it’s time to stop and fix the problem. Middle market companies need a combination of people, processes, and technology to manage suppliers and inventory orders. Otherwise, salespeople rely on reactionary tactics that lead to unmet demand or a warehouse full of excess inventory.
Without clear inventory strategies for make-to-order, make-to-stock, and assemble-to-order products, the customer service team is unable to set and manage customer expectations. The process becomes inconsistent, which results in dissatisfied customers and profitability issues. It’s hard to be customer-centric when you have no customers left.
Instead of working together, sales, finance, and SCM (Supply Chain Management) view each other as obstacles to overcome. Each believes inventory should be the responsibility of the other and communication starts to break down between teams. That, in turn, results in the wrong quantities or the wrong items showing up at the wrong times.
If you don’t have contracts in place with transportation services, you’re spending too much. Without a contract, you are forced to pay spot-market prices, which are almost always higher. You also might be getting hit with massive accessorial fees.
Distribution is another costly area that tends to get overlooked. But by crafting formal operations process and associated metrics, you can track distribution performance and costs and make changes based on hard data rather than employee observations.
When lower-than-average compensation and higher-than-standard workloads combine with obsolete technology and non-existent remote-working capabilities, it becomes difficult to attract and retain quality supply chain staff. And during the Great Resignation, it is harder than ever to find candidates to interview. However, with some simple improvements, you can attract, retain, and groom quality SCM personnel for leadership positions that can drive your organization forward.
In addition to setting up standardized processes for every element of your supply chain you need to set metrics to ensure performance. Without inventory, transportation, and distribution metrics, you can’t hope to improve any processes or motivate employees to perform better. And if you don’t have the data available, you may need to review your ERP setup immediately.
If you’ve identified several of these issues at your organization, you may feel overwhelmed. But you should know that a fully optimized supply chain in middle market companies is rare. Customer-facing areas like sales, customer service, and product development often steal the focus of leadership, and the supply chain is constantly forced to play catch up.
If you’ve experienced any of the issues laid out here, take control and strengthen your supply chain for scalability and a stronger bottom line with the help of FortéOne.
With 20 years’ experience helping middle market companies with supply chain management, FortéOne moves beyond a list of so-called supply chain best practices and assesses all areas of supply chain and operations to identify what works and what’s getting in the way. Our consultants then provide a proposal with ideas for rapid improvements that don’t put extra strain or stress on your resources.