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Three strategies for good supply chain planning

Planning is a key priority for supply chain professionals in 2018, with managing supplier relationships, inventory management and procurement also identified as areas for improvement. A report by the American Productivity & Quality Center (APQC) – 2018 Supply Chain Management Priorities, Challenges, and Tips – outlines some of the challenges and priorities facing supply chain professionals this year and supply chain planning was named by the majority of the survey's respondent's as their most pressing supply chain concern.

The APQC's Marisa Brown commented in the report: “With customers having more options to engage with organizations and demand products and services, it has become increasingly important to focus on supply chain planning and matching supply with that demand.”

Identifying and implementing best practices and cutting costs are the two main priorities within the area of supply chain planning – as shown in the APQC's graphic below:

Frequent, effective and green

The report recommends three key characteristics that improve supply chain planning outcomes:

  1. Plan frequently. This enables the supply chain function to respond faster to market and customer changes and needs. The report states: “The improved outcomes are compelling: Those functions revisiting their supply chain plans daily have a nine-day cycle time to fulfill customer orders, whereas the same process requires more than 23 days for supply chain functions that update their plans monthly or even less.”
  2. Make sure you have an effective sales and operations planning process. The report states that this “engages stakeholders in sales and marketing, manufacturing, purchasing, finance, logistics, R&D, and IT. The supply chain function must work to integrate those functions into the planning process to make it as effective as possible.”
  3. Focus on a sustainable, green supply chain. The report says: “Even though efforts such as designing green packaging or eliminating toxic materials may initially increase costs, organizations making such green investments see long- term returns.”

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