Do you know where every item you need to bring your product to market comes from? From raw material to finished goods? Every step of the journey, from A to B, and ultimately to you? Which roads, whose waggons, which warehouse?
Supply chain mapping is all about documenting the procedures and relationships that make up an organisation’s business process. Knowing your supply chain doesn’t just mean knowing your suppliers, where they’re located and how supplies get from them to you. It’s knowing who your suppliers’ suppliers are, and their suppliers, and so on, all the way to the horizon. The tool isn’t just for the bigger business. A micro business will benefit from a clear strategy here, too.
Supply chain mapping is important for business resilience. The more links in the chain, the bigger the potential for any disruption to feed back to you. Having data on suppliers, sites, parts, products, transport routes can help insulate you against risk. It enables you to identify pinch points. Look at lead times. Check reliance on single suppliers. Then you can make your Plan B.
A key component comes from a supplier in financial difficulty. If they go out of business, can you source it elsewhere? You rely on haulier Y: it’s suffering a Covid-related shortage of drivers. How else could you ship your product?
Having a grasp of the supply chain means your business can be proactive rather than just reactive. It can also enhance business reputation. Whether you’re looking to establish green credentials, minimise carbon footprint, or implement best practice on modern slavery, knowing your supply chain will help get you there. It also evidences compliance and transparency to your customers.
In current circumstances, this is a particularly topical issue: it will certainly help in coping with post-Brexit logistics.