Like any freight forwarding company, we are always looking for areas to improve our services in terms of speed, efficiency and customer satisfaction. In a market as complex, fast changing, and wrapped-up in red tape as South Africa is, streamlining freight forwarding processes can seem an insurmountable challenge. Many businesses understandably feel overwhelmed by challenging market volatility, and are unsure of where to start in terms of boosting operational efficiency in the midst of constant change.
Here are four surprisingly simple steps you can take in order to encourage more flexible, effective and profitable operations and support your supply chain:
1. Regularly review and adjust your supply chain process
Improvement in supply chain processes begins with high-level reviews of the business’ current operational state. A conscientious review shows areas of inefficiency, wasted time and resources and allows you to introduce adjustments and changes, as well as to gauge the effect these have on the efficiency of your supply chain.
Such detailed optimisation drastically improves customers’ lead times as well as costs associated with maintaining inventory, handling, and storage.
2. Integrating your data
In today’s technological age, it is a mistake for businesses not to make use of the abundance of data at their disposal. Integrating and analysing data from a vast variety of sources is easier than ever before. Thanks to dedicated and specialised software, unnecessary or inefficient steps in the supply chain can be eliminated. Transactions usually pass through a series of systems including a company’s CRM (customer relations management) system, ERP (enterprise resource planning) and financial systems.
Several high-performing integration platforms and software products can eliminate the human-error associated with manual file uploads and batch updates, allowing information flow, and to become an automated and seamless process..
3. Getting rid of duplicate data
The entire point of addressing operating efficiency is to reduce resource expenditure and costs throughout the supply chain process. Manual updating of duplicated information across a number of systems is a large time waster, as well as being extremely prone to errors. Automating this process with specialised (and usually very affordable and user friendly) software saves countless hours of human labour and vastly improves the customer service experience for your clients. It is a great idea to equip workers, such as customer service representatives, with tablets or smartphones that enable them to mobilise their information and reduce data duplication and problems associated with inaccuracies.
4. Think ahead
A more streamlined supply chain is a vital tool for allowing businesses to operate proactively, rather than reactively. When order fulfilment is running smoothly and ahead of schedule, free time is opened up for organisations to gain a better understanding of their customers’ businesses and their individual needs. Think of supply chain streamlining as an investment not only in your product delivery capabilities, but in your customer service offering as well.