Developing supplier relationships

Improve your supply chain efficiency


Supply chain efficiency focuses on the internal processes within the supply chain. It relates to using available resources (eg financial, human, physical etc) in the best possible way to meet the customer's demand at the lowest cost.

Technology can often play a pivotal role in optimising supply chains. By integrating modern solutions in chain management, you can make significant improvements in the efficiency and performance of your supply chain.

Types of technology in supply chain management

A range of technologies can help you to manage your supply chain. Examples include:

  • logistic management software - such as warehouse management software, fleet management software, vehicle tracking systems, route optimisation systems, etc
  • radio technologies - such as Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) can help you effectively monitor each product from the point of production throughout the supply line
  • advanced weighing technologies - such as high-precision systems or onboard truck scales that measure payload weight and truck's gross weight
  • computerising shipping and tracking systems - these can help to automate planning and execution of deliveries, consolidate shipment and integrate all transport management operations from one panel
  • inventory planning or forecasting systems - these allow you to use your inventory records to forecast the market demand for your product
  • online analytical processing systems - these can help you analyse past sales performances and compare the forecasts from different suppliers

Benefits of using supply chain management technologies include:

  • better visibility and tracking
  • better collaboration with your suppliers
  • real-time monitoring of processes such as shipping and invoicing
  • real-time analysis of sales, orders or market trends data
  • reduced expenditures
  • reduction of errors
  • greater ability to forecast and react quickly to changes in demand
  • greater customer satisfaction

The greatest efficiency in supply chain management often comes from being able to exchange information with your suppliers in real time.

Enterprise resource planning (ERP) in supply chains

ERP systems can help you plan and schedule your entire supply chain. By connecting your order and purchasing system with that of your suppliers, you can automatically place and track orders and the supplier will automatically issue an invoice.

These systems can be very expensive. You can rent ERP systems from an application service provider. However, it's worth keeping in mind that you may incur extra costs for software implementation, staff training, maintenance etc. Find out more about supply chain management software.

Securing supply chain data

If you're sharing data and using connected information systems within your supply chain, remember that you will have duties and obligations to keep this data safe. You will need to set up strong data governance policies and put in place rules and measures to help you comply with the UK General Data Protection Regulation (UK GDPR).