Do you know where every item you need to bring your product to market comes from? Can you trace every step of its journey to you, from raw materials to finished goods? Which roads, whose lorries, which warehouse? We explain why supply chain mapping is a useful tool for smaller businesses.
Knowing your supply chain doesn’t just mean knowing your suppliers, where they’re located and how supplies get from them to you. It is knowing who your suppliers’ suppliers are, and their suppliers, and so on. Mapping the process is not just a tool for the bigger business. Micro businesses will benefit from a clear strategy here, too.
Supply chain mapping is important for business resilience. The more links there are in the chain, the bigger the potential for any disruption to travel back to you.
Compiling data on suppliers, sites, parts, products and transport routes can help insulate you against risk. It will also enable you to identify pinch points such as long lead times or a reliance on single suppliers.
Having comprehensive information about your supply chain allows you to see the big picture and make your Plan B. Without it, you may be on the back foot when a supply chain problem occurs.
These examples demonstate why you need to be proactive in your plannning:
• A key component for your lead product comes from a supplier in financial difficulty. If they go out of business, can you source it elsewhere?
• You rely on a particular haulage company that is suffering a Covid-related shortage of drivers. How else could you ship your product?
Supply chain mapping can also enhance business reputation. Whether you’re looking to establish green credentials, minimise carbon footprint, or implement best practice on modern slavery, knowing your supply chain will help get you there. It also provides clear evidence of compliance and transparency to your customers.
In the uncertainty of a post-Brexit trading landscape, the practice could certainly help you manage logistical disruption.