by Andrew Armstrong
It is important to understand that as a technology startup, having a strong supply chain strategy in place can help an organization reduce costs and reduce certain risks. The ability to manage the various aspects of the supply chain, from development, manufacturing, inventory and logistics are critical to achieve success. This is especially important to startup hardware technology firms as the connections made early on in the supply chain process become increasingly important over the long run as the customer base grows and scalability becomes a concern.
In order to develop a supply chain strategy for a business, it is important to understand what makes a supply chain process work.
This includes an understanding the elements of the supply chain as well as best practices for increasing efficiencies and reducing costs. Gaining an understanding of the supply chain process and how to manage it for a hardware technology startup can be the difference between success and failure as a business.
Understand the Elements of Your Supply Chain.
Understand that a supply chain involves many different parts. Rarely does an entire product and all components get full fabricated and assembled in one location. More often multiple different manufacturing partners are relied upon to bring products and services to the marketplace. Beyond manufacturing, IT, logistics, and transportation partners are required for the delivery of products and services to the end customers. Great technology means nothing if processes are not in place that allow for effective product manufacturing and delivery to customers.
Provide Training and Education to Your Supply Chain Partners.
As a company develops new technological solutions, tools and products, it needs to educate and train the members of its supply chain. Through education, an organization will strengthen the knowledge and expertise of its partners while helping to improve processes necessary to meet delivery expectations and keep end user customers happy and fulfilled.
Create a Plan for Your Supply Chain.
The essential element of a supply chain strategy is the development of a plan. A sales and operations plan helps bring focus to building a strong supply chain process and ultimately how to meet the needs of customer. A plan should incorporate how the supply chain will work, what contingencies are in place in the event of a disaster or other failure occurs at any point in the process, and an on-going analysis of how to increase efficiencies and reduce redundancies.
Make Sure to Collaborate with Your Partners.
Collaboration is a critical part of the supply chain. Partners who are well informed and with whom a company maintains communications with become important assets. The more effective communications are with supply chain partners, the easier it is to address problems if and when they arise. The functionality of your supply chain depends on smooth interactions between partners, from conception of an idea, product or service all the way to finished product and delivery to the customer.
Be Willing to Adapt to Changes.
The way consumers receive information about a company and its products and services evolves over time. Postal delivery and landline telephones have given way to electronic mail, social media, and mobile computing devices. As technology continues to evolve and new ways of interacting with businesses become available to consumers, it’s a good idea to stay abreast of these changes by continuing to learn about logistics management and adapt them into the supply chain process.
The focus of the supply chain is always on meeting the needs of customers. This can only be accomplished by establishing partnerships and by collaborating with those suppliers who can help a company maintain their customer focus. Through collaboration and effective communication with members of the supply chain, a startup positions itself for much greater success.
Andrew Armstrong is an independent business and market strategies consultant in the San Francisco Bay Area working primarily with technology and start-up phase clients. He founded and ran his own digital marketing agency, KickStart Search, for 6 years prior to being acquired by Los Angeles-based Wpromote in April of 2015. Follow him on Twitter @kickstartseach.