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How do I optimize a supply chain?

Firstly, to optimize a Supply Chain one must be clear in defining it and understanding its intricacies.


Secondly one must clearly understand the Goals and Purpose of the Supply Chain, on essence its Mandate.


Thirdly, Vision and Mission, create one, you will need it! You must understand that Supply Chains are dynamic mechanisms that require intense Systems Thinking Acumen. Systems Thinking is a methodology of Strategic Thinking in which one envisions the desired outcome, then works holistically backward, to create strategies to realize one’s vision.


Once the above items are identified and understood the following actions must take place:


1.) Leverage the creation of a Strategic Supply Chain Plan such as the following:




The above Hoshin Strategic Plan assigns People, Metrics, Targets to a clearly Articulated Purpose


2.) Leverage Operations Research which will focus on the understanding of the interaction of the following components:


  1. Process variables
  2. People variables
  3. Materials variables
  4. Layout variables
  5. Network variables
  6. Metrics variables
  7. Machines variables
  8. Technology variables


Operations Research is based on Systems Thinking, or the interaction of the above components to achieve a Desired Outcome or Mission Articulated in the prior table.


The primary outcome of Operations Research is to determine the appropriate Systems Settings or how to regulate and configure the above variables to achieve a certain Supply Chain Outcome or Mission.


3.) Leverage some of the following Tools to understand your Supply Chain:

Design of Experiments, Predictive Analytics, Prescriptive Analytics, Descriptive Analytics, Spaghetti Analysis, SIPOC Models, Value Stream Mapping, Time and Motion Audits, Network Diagram Analysis, Critical Path Analysis, Chi Square, Hypothesis Testing, Control Charting


Example: Value Stream Mapping




4.) Leverage Technology and Human Capital Assets. Think blockchain, Artificial Intelligence, RFID.


Get More info about Essential Procurement Skills

What is the best way to learn procurement?

Procurement is the understanding and translation of customer needs and requirements to the selection of capable suppliers, to realize the cost-effective acquisition, receipt and payment of vital inputs and raw materials. Factors impacting the Total Cost of Ownership such as quality, efficiencies, delays, stock outs, obsolescence and carrying cost are heavily emphasized in the procurement discipline.


To learn and master the above skill sets takes time and depends one’s learning style. Individuals seeking to learn the science of procurement should do some research of their learning styles.


The following are what we recommend as the best ways to learn procurement:


1. Vision: create one: Design Desired Outcomes for your procurement Career.

2. Body of Knowledge (BOK): get one, spend time reviewing it

3. Determine Knowledge Gaps to the BOK: firstly, ascertain your mental and physical aptitude to learn the Procurement BOK: Then study your knowledge gaps

4. Skills Acquisition: this can be acquired in various ways depending on your availability of time, budget and degree of knowledge gap. Some ways to do this are as follows:

  • Mentor: Get a Supply Chain Expert as your mentor who can guide you through the following
  • BSc. or MSc. In Supply Chain Management. Remember the MS degree focuses on making one a Subject Matter Expert.
  • Certification: Such as the Senior Professional in Supply Management (SPSM). This program is strong on applied theory. The SPSM program delves deep into the “what and how to of procurement”
  • -SPSM® Certification: 3 Steps to Procurement Success,

1. LEARN (Learn the most modern procurement best practices and put them to use immediately.)

2. PROVE (Prove your advanced capabilities by passing the SPSM® Exam)

3. APPLY (Apply what you’ve learned to achieve measurable results; save more money, improve performance, and more)

5. Best Practice Mastery: understand and master the most critical best practices such as:

#1 Utilizing an Annual Buying Plan

#2 Utilizing Commodity Teams

#3 Managing Supplier Performance

#4 Optimizing Strategic Supplier Relationships

#6 Qualifying Suppliers

#7 Implementing Risk Management Practices & Policies

#9 Systemizing Operations

#10 Benchmarking

#11 Embracing Technology

#12 Measuring Purchasing Performance

#13 Developing Staff Capabilities

#14 Utilizing A Strategic Plan

6. Webinars: this is great way to enhance your procurement knowledge

7. Process Improve Projects: join a team that is conducting projects to improve procurement processes. This will give you a more dynamic understanding of procurement.

8. Blogs: participate in blogs, as this can expose you to dynamic knowledge

9. Purchasing Associations: join one, collaborate, share and learn from other procurement professionals in your network. Next Level Purchasing Association has an awesome platform and network for Procurement Professionals.