3 Characteristics of the Modern Supply Chain

An effective supply chain can make the difference between business success and failure. Businesses need to be lean and agile to adapt to challenges quickly and efficiently under continuous and constantly changing market dynamics. More than 80% of companies report at least one disruption in the supply chain per year and given the events of the past 18 months, we’d envisage this being even higher.

Organisations that embrace agile supply chain methods make greater use of new technologies, strategically and for the long term. Let’s examine more deeply how your company’s supply chain can achieve this agility and competitive advantage with technology, continuous development and resilience.



Supply chain management is no exception when it comes to the importance of innovation. Organisations have to continuously improve their supply chain efficiency due to a globalised economy, where worldwide competition is clamouring to fulfil ever-changing customers’ needs. Leveraging today’s technology can automate your operations, lower costs, increase customer satisfaction and improve control of your supply chain.

IoT technologies provide some very promising capabilities to track the visibility of items and mitigate the impacts of supply shortages or natural disasters. Data from IoT devices using tech such as RFID can be used to discover patterns, study customer behaviour and increase the sales forecast to find new ways to generate revenue.

Another approach to improving real-time visibility in your supply chain is the implementation of supplier management software while improving relationships with suppliers.

A technology that tracks nonconformance of suppliers, assigns remedial measures, tracks progress and provides a supplier with a real-time rating can significantly improve your supply chain performance. In addition, the ability to engage with your business directly with suppliers through a comprehensive supplier management system, and not cluttered inboxes, streamlines the workflow and helps build stronger relationships.


Continuous Development

Businesses capable of building and implementing a continuous improvement culture in their supply chain function can discover methods to distinguish themselves from competitors. This starts with the philosophy of the company and its workforce. Companies that can build strong teams of engaged and intelligent supply chain experts are ones that will challenge the status quo and continually ask “how can we improve.” Once this paradigm is embedded in the way staff members think and behave, the opportunity for growth becomes more apparent. Companies can use various tools to improve their products. Organisations can choose to employ the Six Sigma approach or other methods for their continuous development (Agile, Toyota Production System, Baldrige Criteria, etc.). Lean methodologies can be implemented to help reduce processes that provide non-value-added operations and resolve the challenging business problems that have previously frustrated end consumers.

Companies supply chain operations require constant development in order to sustain their flexibility and to respond to changing market dynamics. The rate of change in many markets continues to accelerate and businesses that have the mechanisms to acclimatise them will flourish now and in the future.



Effective and reliable communication and collaboration across the supplier base is a major challenge for the development of a resilient supply chain network. A disconnected supply chain causes longer procurement cycles, reduces quality, leads to high cost and eventually affects customer satisfaction.

By building strategic relationships with both small and large suppliers, companies can influence their suppliers significantly to enhance their quality and reduce the amount of administration time required to manage them. Both producing cost savings and enhanced profitability.

Supply chain management that is data-driven from start to finish, is integrated, adaptable, and has better visibility all contribute significantly to higher resilience.

From a data point of view, to build resilience you must determine what data is collected and how that data is converted into insight and then action to promptly detect, mitigate and recover from disruptions.

Integrated and clear relationships are important to creating sustainable and robust supply chains. The efficiency and effectiveness of the whole network in achieving operational excellence enables all parties to be more competitive and profitable. Businesses need to work consistently and persistently to find ways to work together, not only for mutual success and commercial gain but for minimised risk and greater resilience and protection.

Every business is different, and the way you modernise your supply chain varies depends on a complex and multi-factoral analysis. However, understanding how your company utilises the three pillars of technology, continuous development, and building resilience can help you influence suppliers, improve quality and guarantee your supply chain continues to be sustainable in the long term.

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