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What is Supply Chain Consulting? Meaning and Frameworks

Published on Dec 08,2022 46 Views


You cannot deny that the supply chain is one of the critical functions in an organisation, with a product to deliver to customers. An efficient supply chain will earn customer loyalty and better profits. Having an optimised supply chain will ensure reduced waste and improved efficiency. This function consists of various departments, people and tools and is challenging to manage. Supply chain consulting is an excellent way to ensure maximum efficiency for your supply chain. For those who are unfamiliar with the subject, let us first look at supply chain management.

An excellent way to learn supply chain management is to enrol in the Advanced Certificate Course In Operations, Supply Chain and Project Management. A visit to our website will enlighten you more about the course and its benefits. 

Understanding Supply Chain Management

A supply chain is a function that includes people, machines and processes involved in the manufacture and delivery of a product. It involves both internal and external entities. It comprises vendors, manufacturers, storage facilities, transporters, distributors and retailers. This is why managing it efficiently is very important. Supply chain management is the process of supervising all the tasks in a supply chain and ensuring it performs optimally. Various departments in a company are included in this process. When the company finds that the supply chain needs to be improved, it hands over the job to experts in supply chain consulting

Good supply chain management looks for continuous improvement in the system. Companies are always searching for ways to reduce costs and waste. When a supply chain is efficient, it will improve customer satisfaction and profits for the organisation. The various entities in a well-managed supply chain collaborate. Supply chain managers regularly look for tools that can improve the process. They also put in place measures that help employees evaluate their performance. Performing supply chain consulting is an excellent way to optimise the process. 

Also Read: What Is A Supply Chain Control Tower? Types & Uses

What Is Supply Chain Consulting?

Sometimes companies need an expert to dig deep into their supply chain process and explore the areas where improvement is possible. These experts identify the various areas in the supply chain that offer scope for optimisation. This process is called supply chain consulting, and those who do this are called supply chain consultants. These consultants mostly specialise in one the aspects of the supply chain like sourcing, production, planning or inventory management. But one can also find generalists who can guide all the supply chain functions. 

Supply chain consulting is a job that requires both technical and interpersonal skills along with other capabilities. They must have technical knowledge about how a product moves from the raw material stage to the customer. They must also be familiar with various technologies used in the process. Many supply chains use tracking methods like RFID tags. Other applications are used for the management of inventory. A good supply chain consultant will be familiar with all these technologies. They must also possess excellent interpersonal skills as they deal with various officials in different supply chain functions. 

Duties Of A Supply Chain Consultant

Specialists in supply chain consulting are expected to perform a set of duties that will help improve the supply chain efficiency of the client. They must develop strategies that increase the inventory turnover rates, decrease inventory levels and reduce shipping costs. Analysing past sales data, economic trends, and other factors that affect sales and forecasting demand accurately is also one of their duties. These experts conduct regular supply chain audits to identify areas for improvement. They also use computer modelling software to develop and test new supply chain models. 

They also use methods like cost efficiency and productivity to evaluate the performance of the supply chain. The specialists in supply chain consulting use new technologies to improve the outcome of the supply chain. Companies can also get guidance regarding warehousing and inventory management strategies from supply chain consultants. These consultants also give valuable advice on shipping methods and pricing models. The consultants also keep a close relationship with vendors to ensure the timely execution of orders. Now that we have seen what the duties of a supply chain consultant are let us see what traits the person must possess. 

Skills Needed For A Supply Chain Consultant

Skills needed for a supply chain consultant

Technical Skills

Various technologies and software applications are used in the supply chain. These help the process to function smoothly and efficiently. Information is an important aspect of the process, and software programs help the smooth flow of information in both directions. The presence of so many gadgets and machines makes it necessary for those in supply chain consulting to possess good technical skills. This capability allows the person to understand the process better and identify areas for improvement. Data analytics is another technology widely used in supply chain management for better sales forecasting. 

Business Knowledge

The aim of supply chain consulting is to reduce costs and improve profits for the business. It means that knowledge about the company and its business is very important for consultants. They must know the business’s goals and what it plans to achieve in the short and long term. Not all companies have the same objectives, and this is something supply chain consultants must understand. Studying the company’s business that has hired them helps achieve the desired goals. These experts must be familiar with business operations, finance, marketing and other company functions. 

Communication 

It is an important skill for a supply chain consulting experts as they must communicate with various people in the supply chain. A supply chain consists of people both within the company and out of it. Vendors, transport operators, distributors and retailers are also part of the supply chain. The consultants must interact with people at various levels within different departments in the organisation. Having good communication skills helps them convey their suggestions and ideas very clearly. Clear communication of instructions results in the proper execution of the job. 

The Advanced Certificate Course In Operations, Supply Chain And Project Management teach communication skills, among others. Such courses are very useful for acquiring the various capabilities needed for a consultant. You can learn more about the course from our website. 

Problem Solving Skills

A supply chain consists of various functions across different departments. It means that anyone trying to improve the process will face multiple challenges. When trying to improve the supply chain with a supply chain consulting job, you may be faced with various issues that need immediate solutions. While working with a company with people from various backgrounds, the consultant may be faced with multiple problems. Acquiring problem-solving skills is essential to do this job efficiently. 

Leadership Skills

The job of a consultant involves getting people to follow instructions to improve the supply chain. The supply chain consulting leader must get the support and following of people across different departments in the organisation. The consultant has to work with professionals like procurement managers, production managers, etc. Getting all these people to follow the guidance offered is not an easy task. Only with their cooperation can you hope to achieve success in this profession. You must possess excellent leadership skills to encourage and motivate these people to do your bidding. 

Also Read: What is Supply Chain Optimisation? An overview

Project Management

Supply chain consulting is not part of a routine job. It is undertaken especially to enhance the performance of the supply chain and make it more efficient. This work is just like a project that involves the use of various resources to achieve a goal. Like any project manager, the consultant also works with various tools, technologies, money and people. Many consultants have their team that also needs to be managed. Having excellent project management skills can help in getting the work done successfully. 

Time Management

Unlike ongoing jobs, supply chain consulting is a task that is limited by time. Companies that hire a consultant expect the supply chain to be optimised within a timeframe. There are various tasks to be completed to improve the process. There are different functions in the supply chain that need to be evaluated. The consultant must find solutions for all the issues in various supply chain stages and implement them within the deadline. All these require consultants to manage time very well. Good time management skills will help you complete a project on time and move on to the next. 

Negotiation Skills

When you are undertaking supply chain consulting, you are often working with a company that you must persuade to follow your instructions to improve its process. If the changes you recommend involve additional expenses, getting the management to execute your instructions will not be easy. It may take a lot of persuasion to get the company owners to agree to the changes. Consultants also work with various departments in a company. They may require the assistance and support of the staff members in the company. Getting this will need negotiation with the department heads. 

Data Analytics

A supply chain consultant will need to analyse huge amounts of data to arrive at solutions that can improve the process. Data about past sales and market conditions help them make better sales forecasts. Analytical skills also help them find ways to improve transportation and reduce costs. Digging into data helps them find insights that will enable them to advise the company owners correctly. Analysing information about inventory levels and costs helps them find solutions for optimising stocks and reducing costs. Data analytics is a very useful skill for performing supply chain consulting

How Does Supply Chain Consulting Benefit An Organisation?

How does supply chain consulting benefit an organisation?

More Experience

Companies face issues only once or twice in their supply chain operations. But experts in supply chain consulting would have seen the same problems occur in different companies. This experience gives them better knowledge to find the right solution. They would have also explored various solutions and arrived at the best one. This experience is a benefit that companies can gain from when they call in consultants. 

Better Focus

Supply chain managers have a lot of duties to perform and are faced with daily challenges in the organisation. This prevents them from giving full focus to the problems that prevent the supply chain from achieving maximum performance. When you call an outside agency for a supply chain consulting, they are only responsible for one task – to optimise the supply chain. They can give full focus on the problems at hand and arrive at solutions quickly. 

Implementation Of The Latest Technology

New technologies appear at speeds that are difficult to follow. This is true with supply chain management too. Warehouse management systems, transport management systems and RFID-based tracking solutions are a few of those technologies that are helping to improve supply chain processes greatly. For a company that has to look at various aspects of its business, it may be difficult to decide on the right technology to improve the supply chain. But an expert in supply chain consulting can suggest the technologies that will help in optimising the company’s supply chain process. 

Supply Chain Benchmarking

This is a method of checking the supply chain, setting objectives and filling the gaps. Various metrics like order fulfilment rate, supply chain cost, customer satisfaction rate and vendor performance are used to measure the performance of a supply chain. Performing supply chain consulting helps to identify the correct metrics for the business and find out where there is reduced performance. The consultants find solutions to improve such areas. 

We have seen some of the benefits of appointing a consultant. One can learn more about it and learn how to become a supply chain consultant by enrolling in the Advance Certificate Course In Operations, Supply Chain and Project Management. The details of this course are available on our website. 

Conclusion

More and more companies realise the benefits of optimising their supply chain. When customer satisfaction and reduction in cost are crucial, the only solution is an improved supply chain process. Most firms don’t have the expertise or skilled persons to correctly identify the shortfalls in the process and find the right solutions. This is where supply chain consultants are a great help. There is much scope for this profession, and it can be a rewarding career for those proficient in supply chain management.

 

More Information:

Major Decision Areas In Supply Chain Management

Know Essential Components Of Supply Chain Management

Green Supply Chain Management: What It Is and Why It Matters?

What is Green Supply Chain? An Overview

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What is Supply Chain Consulting? Meaning and Frameworks

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