The essential guide to supply chain management best practices

Last updated:May 2019

Editor's note

Supply chain management is truly a team sport. The ultimate goal is to get product to customers where and how they want it. Winning this game involves a lot of agile footwork. Each player must work together across supplier networks -- especially in dealing with the unexpected. Strategy is crucial. And the latest tools and technology can help gain a competitive edge.

Today's supply chain management best practices are about crafting a vision of the big picture and the supporting actions needed to realize it. Goals such as a successful omnichannel strategy, supply chain visibility and sustainability are perfect examples of achievements that are impossible without a high degree of orchestration and collaboration. A well-oiled supply chain also increasingly incorporates sophisticated technology that can enable greater insight, visibility and traceability -- from the connectedness of digital manufacturing and a digital supply chain to analytics, IoT and blockchain.

This guide to supply chain management best practices provides greater insight into all these areas. It contains practical advice on tools, tips and other essentials you need to achieve business goals -- and to achieve big wins.

1How to approach omnichannel, inventory and demand challenges

One of the top forces affecting supply chain management today is the need to find an omnichannel strategy that works. Giving customers a seamless in-store and online shopping experience affects every part of the supply chain -- from sourcing to product delivery -- and especially affects processes like inventory and demand management.

2External supply chain functionality

In a very real sense, the competition among companies is a competition of supply chains. Efficient movement of goods and materials depends on complex interdependencies working well together, and that requires information. AI, blockchain, IoT and even traditional technology such as ERP all play a role in surfacing and using information to gain real insight.

3Suppliers, collaboration and risk

The supply chain is an intricate web of interdependencies, and supply chain management best practices recognize the threat of a disruption -- one against which companies must have a well-developed strategy. At the center is a collaborative relationship with suppliers and other partners.

4Important terms related to supply chain management

Demonstrating excellence in supply chain management best practices requires a firm grasp of the terms, particularly newer ones. Here are some that you should know.