Supply Chain Management has continued to stump businesses across different domains simply because it demands a lot of visibility and monitoring. Even for the simplest business, the supply chain can turn out to be quite complicated, involving different intermediaries, stakeholders, steps, and a lot more.
However, this doesn’t undermine the importance of smooth Supply Chain Management. To manage different dynamic elements properly, it’s important to monitor different stages from planning, sourcing, creating, building, delivering, and returning stages.
Despite an ever-increasing technological adoption in all domains, many businesses are still struggling to achieve comprehensive end-to-end visibility for their supply chain. This is one of the most pressing problems with the Supply Chain Management ecosystem. Still, it becomes too difficult to respond as quickly as necessary to all crucial supply chain events in a competitive environment.
But what exactly is end-to-end Supply Chain Management by definition? What makes it so important? And why are businesses gradually focusing more and more on the end-to-end visibility of their supply chain?
Let’s take a look!
What is the End-To-End Process in Supply Chain Management?
Short for E2E, the end-to-end process can be understood as the supply chain in its entirety. This starts right from the procurement stage and ends when the product reaches the customers. Evidently, it includes all the dynamic components of the entire chain. For successful end-to-end management, the process needs to be tracked using conditional monitoring or data logging, and the collected data must be analysed for actionable insights.
In most cases, the E2E process in the supply chain follow the following steps:
1. Procurement of goods
2. Inventory management
3. Finances planning and allocation
4. Logistics and travel planning
6. Quality checks and assurance
7. Sales Support and aftersales customer service.
To ensure streamlined functioning of the entire business, E2E supply chain visibility becomes a business necessity by communicating internally, figuring out and solving problems, and providing improved service to customers.
In addition to E2E visibility, it is important to understand the end-to-end collaboration that goes into successful Supply Chain Management. Collaboration in the supply chain is the process of collaborating interdisciplinary planning to look at the holistic picture.
Collaboration is a way to get more insights into the ordering process, inventory insights, supply chain risks, analytics, and a lot more. Simply put, collaboration is crucial among different teams, suppliers, warehouses, and stakeholders, to have better E2E visibility of the supply chain.
Best Practices for Successful E2E Supply Chain Planning
As mentioned earlier, collaboration is the most important aspect of any successful E2E Supply Chain Management initiative. A whitepaper released by the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee goes on to testify the importance of collaboration furthermore. In the sense of Supply Chain Management, true collaboration lies in collating a range of thoughtful measures from all the different stakeholders and teams involved to improve the supply chain.
Most Supply Chain Management strategies are built on the core principles of cost-cutting. However, the GSCI whitepaper suggests that while the companies are increasingly looking for cost-efficiency out of their Supply Chain Management initiatives, the opportunities to improve appear to be dwindling. The solution to this problem lies in nothing else but developing solid collaborative practices.
The most important thing to keep in mind while designing an E2E supply chain management system is forming good relationships with the suppliers. The benefits of developing long-term, mutually benefitting, positive partnerships can’t be overstated.
These relationships should be carefully, systematically built, and maintained with precision. Think of the company’s suppliers as strategic partners and not just vendors. The more the suppliers get invested in a business’s outcomes, the greater is the ability to improve relationships with the suppliers.
There are different sets of best practices for E2E supply chain management, depending on the requirements at hand. However, here are a few broad things to look into if you plan to implement an E2E Supply Chain Management successfully.
1. Take a lean approach to inventory management. That way will reduce a lot of waste, and many unnecessary actions and operations will be eliminated, leading to faster, more accurate task fulfilment.
2. Engage in demand planning. That way, there’ll be an idea of the customer’s needs, which will enable you to plan a more effective process for your supply chain, keeping the customers in mind.
3. Plan the team strategically. Human resource planning is a tricky and often overlooked aspect of Supply Chain Management. However, to truly build a collaborative environment for the Supply Chain, human capital planning can’t be overlooked.
4. Use root cause analysis. This will ensure that you have a data-oriented picture of the entire supply chain, giving you a glimpse of various challenges, weaknesses, strengths, and more. This information can then be utilised in designing more effective solutions.
5. Implement stringent benchmarking processes. In doing so, you’ll measure the efficiency of the supply chain at different stages and intervals. That will place you in a much better position to identify and tackle problems in various areas, including inventory management, storage planning, shipping accuracy, quality control, and more. Benchmarking can be done both qualitatively and quantitatively. Quantitative works on analysing historical data and the insights gathered from it and defining different KPIs. Whereas qualitative works by applying best industry practices.
Configuring The E2E Supply Chain
Successfully configuring an end-to-end supply chain requires these four mapping and analysing tools to understand the various complexities and decide per the circumstances at hand.
1. Total Supply Network Analysis: to capture macro-level data such as cost allocations, lead times, sales volumes, geographical dispersions, and more.
2. Unit Operation Analytic: to analyse the structure of different underlying operating units and reveal opportunities and flaws to correct the network design.
3. Product Value Structure: to look at important metrics such as product architecture, portfolio, costs, innovation opportunities, overhead rates, and more that could influence the supply chain operations in any way whatsoever.
4. Supply Network Relationships: to map the roles, responsibilities, and relationships between critical network partners of the business.
Developing Advanced Supply Chain Capabilities
No matter how well a supply chain is designed, in the end, it all comes down to having the right capabilities to run that design in a real-time environment. Different sets of tools, techniques, and platforms can analyse an organisation’s strengths and weaknesses in supply chain management to create an action plan that drives improvement.
To develop such an advanced capability of handling the supply chain, here are some questions you can ask to gauge the current status of Supply Chain Management, as well as to figure out the areas of improvement that you can then work on.
1. Design Strategy: Does the current supply chain management design meet the company’s strategic goals? And do they have the leadership and skills to ensure that it does
2. Network Connections: How good is the organisation building and sustaining relationships across the network to improve service, costs, and quality? This includes relationships with customers, business stakeholders, employees, suppliers, and more.
3. Total Efficiency: Does the company’s supply chain minimise wastage? Does it have the capabilities of optimising product replenishment times? Are there checks to keep unnecessary movement in and outside of the inventory in place?
4. Network Processes: How effective are the company’s logistics, manufacture, and supplier management processes? What are some gaps that you see right now, and how can you fill them?
5. Product and Service Enhancement: Does the current supply chain network have the capability to enhance the products and services with time? This includes integrating new features, developing new strategies, and even finding diverse business opportunities as and when required.
Supply Chain Management is a holistic task and requires you to have an idea of different dynamic components and manage them properly. As a result of being so interdisciplinary, it’s a fantastic career path for people today.
In general, the interests, desires, and goals of people change over time. A career in Supply Chain ensures that there’s always something new to learn and master. Further, with so many things to take care of within a supply chain, even the ever-evolving goals can be accommodated easily.
Companies are and will continue looking for Supply Chain experts, especially those with experience in end-to-end management and visibility. The time is right to make a career switch to Supply Chain Management for a long, fruitful, and satisfying career of managing different dynamic elements in creative ways and adding value to the company you work for!
Suppose you’re considering a career in supply chain management. In that case, you need to look at our Global Master Certificate in Integrated Supply Chain Management, which upGrad offers this course in partnership with Michigan State University.
The 6-month program offers a comprehensive, end-to-end view of the supply chain and teaches candidates how to leverage and manage their different components effectively. Delivered by top instructors of MSU, you will learn via live learning sessions, interactive discussions, quizzes, and case studies. Plus, you will have the option to choose between two electives – logistics or sourcing.
If you need any career assistance on supply chain management, do let us know in the comments below!