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For the past half-century, the expansion of free trade has propelled multinational corporations and established intricately woven global supply chains. However, geopolitical tensions and evolving regulatory landscapes, from Brexit to former President Donald Trump’s rapid-fire escalation of tariffs to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have challenged this paradigm. As new challenges roll in, it's imperative for businesses to prioritize supply chain resilience. With tech integration at the forefront of business strategies, even small to medium enterprises (SMEs) can navigate these challenges thoroughly. Let’s take a closer look below.
Embrace automation Spreadsheets used to be the primary tool for inventory management. However, in the age of big data, they have been surpassed by specialized inventory management software. The latter provides real-time visibility into inventory levels, automates reorder processes, and offers predictive analytics for demand forecasting. This ensures that resources are allocated efficiently and products are readily available to meet customer demand. However, embracing automation doesn’t end there. One of the most common mistakes in inventory management is not hiring the right people. No inventory management system will be able to sustain itself, and you need skilled workers to be able to oversee the processes. Look for reliable and consistent inventory planners who can ensure that your inventory management system is not only functional but continues to improve over time. These planners play a pivotal role in keeping stock levels optimized and hitting your KPIs.
Maximize efficiency through staff roles
Creating a resilient supply chain is not the sole responsibility of supply chain managers or inventory planners. Every role within an SME can actively contribute to this goal. While larger corporations may have dedicated supply chain teams, SMEs often need to rely on a cross-functional approach. Encourage every team member to be cognizant of how their role affects the supply chain. Beyond scheduling appointments and answering phones, a reliable administrative assistant can help with document management and record-keeping, while also reviewing and answering correspondence to ensure that communications related to the supply chain run smoothly. Such contributions, although indirect, significantly impact the efficiency and resilience of the supply chain in SMEs.
Ensuring that your supply chain is protected from cyber threats is a crucial aspect of building resilience in today’s digital era. Risk Ledger co-founder Haydn Brooks explains that people did not outsource as much two decades ago, but the attack surface has increased since. Growing interconnectedness means an attack can lead to a “chain of dominoes,” as seen by how the 2020 cyber attack on Kaseya, a Miami-based software supplier, affected 1,000 companies in total. To address this challenge, it's essential to invest in robust cybersecurity measures. SMEs may not have the resources to build in-house cybersecurity teams, but they can benefit from partnering with cyber specialists. These experts can help detect vulnerabilities in the supply chain and develop strategies to mitigate risks. By identifying and addressing potential weak links, businesses can fortify their supply chains against cyber threats.
Streamline production planning with MRP software
Effective production planning is a cornerstone of supply chain resilience, especially for manufacturers. Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central's MRP (Material Requirements Planning) software, as mentioned in a previous post, offers SMEs an invaluable tool for streamlining production planning. MRP software calculates master production schedules and material needs based on actual and anticipated demand, ensuring that resources are available when needed. There are two key approaches within MRP software for creating a plan: the Regenerative Plan and the Net Change Plan. The Regenerative Plan recalculates the material plan, utilizing the most current demand and supply data, while the Net Change Plan focuses on specific changes, allowing for more efficient adjustments. Efficient action message execution is also facilitated by MRP software. Users can send action messages to create, modify, or cancel orders, ensuring that supply and demand remain in equilibrium. With the help of MRP software, SMEs can optimize their production planning processes and increase operational efficiency. In conclusion, supply chain resilience is a critical consideration for SMEs, especially in today's dynamic business environment. By embracing automation for inventory management, maximizing the efficiency of staff roles, upgrading cybersecurity, and utilizing MRP software for streamlined production planning, SMEs can strengthen their supply chains. These strategies, coupled with the right technology and practices, will enable them to navigate uncertainties and ensure the smooth flow of products and services. Solution Systems, Inc. (SSI), a Microsoft Gold Certified ERP Partner, offers a range of integrated business applications and services designed to help small and midsize businesses become more connected with customers, employees, partners, and suppliers. We provide business intelligence solutions, including Microsoft Dynamics NAV, Microsoft Dynamics 365 Business Central, Microsoft Dynamics 365 for Sales, Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Power BI, and Office 365, as well as IT infrastructure services and web development. SSI can be a valuable partner for SMEs looking to enhance their supply chain resilience through technology and best manufacturing practices.
Article contributed by: Sarah Grenier, exclusively for solsyst.com