Human Error Kills Supply Chain Productivity

Published : June 26, 2014

human-error-in-supply-chainThe ability to buy and sell goods is an important part of the global economy, but this is not always a simple transaction. For every sale, there is a supply chain in place that needs to be effectively managed in order to assure packaging fulfillment, customer satisfaction as well as business growth. But a number of things can go wrong which can prove costly for several players throughout the chain when productivity is compromised. Both the product flow and financial streams are involved and include details such as properly communicating orders, handling any updates, communicating delivery expectations, negotiating credit and payment terms, as well as confirming ownership agreements and verifying adequate delivery. With these many steps, the process does not always go smoothly for various reasons.

1. People are important to supply chain technology.

Technology is wonderful, but it can be fragile too. Something as simple as a typographical error can change or dismantle a program. Getting a zip code off by a single number can send a package far from where it is supposed to go. Technology is a tool, but human beings need to be there too in order to verify that it is working properly and make corrections when they are needed.

2. Trends from the past are used to predict what will happen in the future.

Some companies are known for their efficiency. For example, a customer may place an order on a monthly basis and it may consistently arrive 2-3 days later, even though estimates indicate that packaging fulfillment could take as much as a full week. But these trends can change quickly.

There may be an influx of new, inexperienced employees, a spate of bad weather, or any number of other wrinkles.

3. Decisions are made based solely on sales history.

Sales data is an important tool when it comes to deciding what to order, but it is only one of many factors that affect supply chain metrics. Things such as actual inventory numbers, financial ratings, and cash availability can throw a big wrench into typical expectations. Even if sales have been good, things such as unexpected equipment repairs, a sudden need to recruit or train new employees, or even a lawsuit can throw off inventory and delay production and delivery.

4. People don't communicate effectively.

Proper communication is among the most important elements in a good relationship--both business and personal.

In fulfillment and logistics, if one person fails to relay vital information or does not make a proper note of it, the entire supply chain process can become compromised. By developing relationships with customers and suppliers, communication efforts register on a deeper level and there is a better understanding of the supply chain process as a whole.

5. Limitations of the supplier are not factored in correctly.

There are many things that can go wrong as a product travels from Point A to Point B or C or D. There could be a manufacturing error; products might be damaged at a wholesaler. In some cases, these issues can be fixed quickly, resulting in only a short delay in delivery. But not every company has the manpower or financial capabilities to save face quickly.

Knowing where goods are coming from, and any applicable limitations, your retailers can adjust delivery times more accurately to minimize customer dissatisfaction.

The Role of Outsourcing

Human error can be a major factor in any of these situations when assumptions are made by your retailers or shortcuts are taken by your packaging fulfillment partners. In some cases, your logistics solutions are good enough that the supply chain still delivers a satisfactory result, but it only takes the wrong misplaced cog in the process before delays happen and you find yourself clocking additional hours rebuilding your brand's image.

In order for packaging fulfillment to be cost effective and efficient, you may want to consider outsourcing. You get all of the experience without having to worry about managing the process, freeing up time and resources that you can reinvest where they really matter-- your products.

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Topics: Supply Chain Workforce Management

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