When should you call a supply chain consultant in to assist your internal team? While focusing on supply chain management has always held value for companies, it’s only in the past decade or so—and the past three years in particular—that businesses recognize just how critical it is to success. Supply chains are complex and key pillars of every industry. From manufacturing to retail, pharmaceutical, and everything in between, optimizing your supply chain serves as a competitive advantage. It’s that complexity that makes bringing in a supply chain consultant a good idea, especially if your company is going through a transition.
A transition might look like a merger or acquisition; maybe you’re getting ready to launch a new product; or perhaps you’re considering an enterprise-wide software upgrade. These can all be tenuous circumstances, and having a supply chain consultant along to guide you through the changes makes good business sense.
Other times to engage a supply chain consultant include periods requiring in-depth analysis of your company’s operations. A qualified consultant can help you identify and collect all the necessary and correct data to perform an analysis of your supply chain. Having a trusted partner perform these tasks frees you up to keep your eye on the day-to-day business operations.
If you’re amid a particularly complex supply chain issue, a consultant can be a valuable problem-solving partner. Say you are debating moving more manufacturing closer to home—near-shoring or on-shoring—after years of manufacturing overseas. A consultant can perform a cost/benefit analysis and help identify where to relocate your plants if indeed that is the right answer. A supply chain consultant brings in an impartial, informed view, helping guide you in the right direction and simplifying the points you must consider.
Supply chain consultants are also experts at helping you through major capital expenditure decisions. If you are considering adding equipment like automated storage and retrieval systems (ASRS) or autonomous mobile robots (AMRs), for instance, it pays to have a consultant by your side to select the right choices for your operations and existing equipment. Or you may be debating adding a warehouse execution system to your warehouse management system. This can be complicated territory, and a supply chain consultant can help you weigh the pros and cons of various options.
Other areas where tapping into a supply chain consultant make sense include evaluating your transportation network, carrying out internal process audits, re-engineering your operations, and laying out new warehousing space/networks.
A supply chain consultant can provide value for any sized company, and best of all, free up your staff and resources to focus on the current jobs at hand. Expect your consultant to partner with you in learning your operations and all its complexities. Combining an in-depth understanding of supply chain management, data mining and analysis, and listening carefully to your goals and objectives, a consultant can set you on the right path to optimization. In today’s complex environment, that’s a worthwhile investment.
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