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How to Improve Communication Within the Supply Chain

They say communication is key. The supply chain is not spared from this old adage. Communication is key to success for supply chain operations and management. Supply chains may vary in complexities, but they each typically include multiple entities including producers, vendors, warehouses, distributor centers, and retailers.

Like any relationship, strong communication serves as a launchpad for success. In business, good communication translates to productivity. For the supply chain, managing all of the different parties involved can be quite the task. Many top procurement professionals admit that communication is one of the biggest challenges within the supply chain.

“The Supply Chain stuff is really tricky.”

~Elon Musk

The cross-functional nature of the supply chain demands alignment between all departments such as the product development team, the marketing department, operations, distribution, the finance department, and the customer service team. Because each of these departments have their own specialities and areas of focus, department expectations often times can result in conflict across the supply chain.

A supply chain without an effective communication plan in place is vulnerable to many risks such as order delays, inventory shortages, etc. So, what is the solution? Well, a cross-functional supply chain demands cross-functional collaboration.

With growing competition and globalization, supply chains are more exposed than ever before. Communication serves the bedrock and silver living for the resilience of the supply chain. Fortunately, there are some things decision makers can do to improve communication or introduce effective communication across the entire of the supply chain.

1. Transparency

Mistakes happen when people don't have the full picture. It's very important that all involved parties are working towards the same goal and hold the same values. In the supply chain, there is no such thing as over-communication. To prioritize communication, go right to the source. Set up recurring internal meetings and calls with stakeholders so that all parties are well-informed, up to date, and held accountable.

2. Technology

Technology is your friend. There is a way to work smarter and not harder in the supply chain and that comes with the help of new and innovative tools created to streamline operations. Communication can be streamlined in the cloud with all members using the same platform. Save yourself the headache of trying to get in touch with all involved parties or tying up loose ends in the supply chain and join the digital landscape.

3. Responsive

It's better to anticipate trends and forecast demand than to be forced into a state of reaction. A responsive supply chain keeps the dialogue open between all parties. Stay in touch with your suppliers and take pulse checks on their state of business. This action will help to keep operations in alignment and on track. If you are never responding and always reacting, you have no time to focus on business development and growth. As a direct result, you risk falling behind the competition.

Prioritizing communication within the supply chain with both internal and external stakeholders cannot be overlooked. With the right plan, communication can be restored as well as the health of your supply chain and stakeholder relations.

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