The supply chain manager’s top 9 challenges

The supply chain manager’s top 9 challenges

Global markets and advancing technologies have opened many doors, and as a result, supply chains are growing more complex by the day. This leads to several challenges. Here, we explore nine typical challenges facing supply chain managers today, and reveal that most of them stem from a lack of visibility.  

Supply chain managers have many responsibilities. Monitoring shipments, ensuring deliveries arrive on time and in good shape, managing regulations, handling disruptions, choosing business partners – the list is long. What the supply chain manager needs is an overview. To know how and where all the components of the supply chain connect and interact. This is what we mean by ‘visibility’. Without visibility, lots of things can go wrong. In fact, a lot does go wrong!  


Critical functions 

There are several challenges surround the basic operations or critical functions of the supply chain. Since issues can arise at any stage of the shipment process, (1) tracking is crucial. Unfortunately, many supply chain managers are in the dark about where their cargo is until it arrives.  

Ideally, they should be prepared for (2) disruptions and bottlenecks. These are certain to happen at some point. And when they do, supply chain managers must be alerted as soon as possible if they are to mitigate potential losses.  

(3) Managing quality issues is another important challenge that gets increasingly difficult as the supply chain grows more complex. Improper handling or care of cargo can result in damaged or spoiled goods, which is bad for the company’s finances, reputation and for the planet.  


Acting and reacting 

A second set of challenges relate to the supply chain manager’s ability to respond, which  gets more difficult as supply chains expand nationally and internationally. For many managers, information concerning operations is heavily delayed. (4) Access to timely information is therefore a major issue. In the event that something does go wrong, it is also important to be able to identify who is responsible. (5) Managing claims takes time and resources and is a huge challenge for companies that lack visibility into their operations.  


Business development and planning 

The supply chain managers’ role also involves planning for future operations. This brings with it several other challenges. (6) Evaluating vendor performance is inaccurate and difficult without access to extensive performance data. Following (7) supply chain regulations are also difficult without a broad and detailed overview of operations. In general, determining (8) future strategy involves looking at past operations to see what has worked and what has not. This is only possible for companies that have access to data and, you guessed it, visibility. Lastly, creating more (9) sustainable practices is not only crucial to the health of all humans and our planet, but also to the survival of any modern business. 


The need for visibility 

To summarise, the challenges facing supply chain managers reflect the increasing need for visibility in the supply chain. Real-time access to data-driven insights into the supply chain, as well as aggregated data to analyse and optimise performance, offer the supply chain manager a true overview of operations.  

Learn more about the supply chain manager’s challenges. Our white paper also covers the pros and cons of existing tracking technologies, digitisation vs digitalisation, and the advantages of IoT-based supply chain tracking.