You Are the First Step toward a More Efficient Supply Chain

Published : July 2, 2015


You've got a lot of responsibilities to shoulder every day you walk through the door, but you know that comes with the position. You get through it most days, but sometimes you feel like you’re just stumbling along or struggling to find your motivation, particularly during a busy period. That's natural and expected, but it doesn't mean you can't prepare for it.

Supply chain efficiency doesn't spring from nothing—it requires negotiating with suppliers, real time coordination of deliveries and on-the-fly ideas and modifications to cut down on lag. Personal efficiency needs just as much attention to succeed, but where do you start? Try these suggestions to maximize your efficiency as a supply chain professional:

Kick Meetings to the Curb

Traditional sit-at-a-table-style meetings may work fine outside of the warehouse, but when you're working in a high-pressure, fast-paced environment like supply chain management, there typically isn't time for that kind of bureaucracy.

John Rampton of Inc. recommends holding standing meetings, which tend to go more quickly and decrease in-meeting distractions, if meetings are absolutely unavoidable. Ask your non supply-chain higher-ups to request and receive updates through email, if possible, to cut down on time wasted trudging back and forth to a board room. If you need to meet with your staff periodically, set a distinct plan to discuss defined issues and limit the time spent overall to prevent rambling. Do, however, leave a little wiggle room for questions afterwards to ensure you're communicating your goals clearly.

Take a Good, Long Look At Your Tasks

It's easy to get stuck in a rhythm at work, even when that rhythm takes more effort and time than you may have to give on a regular basis. Write down what you do in a typical work day and then apply the following filters:

  • Can I/Should I delegate this responsibility?
  • How much time am I actually taking to do this task?
  • Why do I struggle to get this task done on time?
  • What 'workarounds,' if any, do I find myself needing to apply?

Essentially, if you're working inefficiently because it's how you've always done it or you're concerned that no one else will do it correctly, it's past time to shake off the status quo. Think about everything else you could be doing when you streamline your block of 'must do' work each day. Learning how to ask for help and delegate are marks of an efficient leader, and by building these skills, you'll be better able to manage your supply chain efficiency through coworkers and partners.

Give Yourself a Break

It seems counter-intuitive to say that you'll work more efficiently when you work less, but it's the truth. Entrepreneur's Matt Mayberry cautions those with their nose perpetually against the grindstone to get out of the warehouse for lunch, both mentally and physically.

When you've been staring at a problem for hours or doing damage control from the moment you clock in, both your brain and body need a break from the effort to be at their peak performance. With a break, you'll return to the office refreshed and ready to roll up your sleeves to tackle the problem from a different angle.

Supply chain efficiency starts with your decisions and actions while you're on the clock. The way you handle your day-to-day work will echo in the way you handle problems and opportunities that flow in from your supply chain partners. If you feel stressed, frazzled and perpetually short on time, it's time to hold an intervention with yourself and use some of these tips to eliminate frustrations and obstacles. Living with them simply won't keep you competitive or on the executive radar.

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Topics: Supply Chain Workforce Management

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