9 Tips for Supply Chain Beginners

It is the season for supply chain beginners. You are not alone.

In the wake of  Covid-19, the impact of the supply chain on every economy across the globe was reinforced. This meant that more governments and businesses were taking steps to improve supply chain operations. Due to this push, the employment of logisticians and supply chain professionals is expected to grow by at least 30% before 2030.

As you can imagine. Many people are considering supply chain as a viable career option.

Why Supply Chain Beginners Must Improve

The typical supply chain operation will often come across as complicated or challenging for supply chain beginners.

To be fair, that is also the case for experts, but it doesn’t matter. The most important thing the business expects is to manage the operations as effectively as possible. To succeed in this can be much more simplified compared to the supply chain operation.

Especially when you have the right tools.

Tips Supply Chain Beginners Can Leverage To Improve Operations

Remember that any good supply chain management simply has uninterrupted movement of goods and services from any organization to the end-user or consumer.

In uncertain times, making informed decisions would be of great value to any organization. With a wealth of experience and close to a decade in the field of supply chain management, I have compiled expert tips to help guide you in your supply chain journey. These tips for supply chain beginners will help you get along in your supply chain journey and hopefully give you much success.

Here are Nine of Them.

Develop a Supply Chain Strategy

Always work with a clear strategy that other stakeholders in the supply chain can easily understand and buy into.

Like in most projects, having a great strategy would ensure success within the supply chain. It may seem common sense, but you will quickly realize that many businesses do not have a well-thought-out strategy. Especially for their supply chain. 

Setting up a well-thought-out strategy would give you an edge in a competitive field.

It allows you to implement a system for coordinating and managing people, resources, and time across the entire supply chain operation. And it will help ensure your consumers get their goods delivered on time and in the right conditions. Always remember that they are the main attraction of the supply chain.

This way, you can simplify the operations processes and better manage expectations. 

Leverage New Technology

Supply chain management has been made easier with the application of technology.

Technology solutions like the Internet of Things, blockchain, artificial intelligence, and machine learning tools all help make managing your supply chain pretty easy. In the wake of the recent disruptions to supply chains worldwide, there has been a spark in technology innovations. All of which have been geared towards helping improve supply chain management.

As a new professional in the field, you will do well to learn how to leverage some of these new technologies.

Your mastery of these solutions will determine your success in the supply chain.

A great example of a technology application is the warehouse management system. It helps you streamline your inventory flow and supply chain visibility.

Continuous Improvement

As a supply chain beginner, you are dealing in a complex and competitive field with little to no information.

That means if you will have any chance at success, you must strive to improve the entire supply chain operation. But you cannot do that without continuous improvement. It is probably one of the most important tips in this article.

Anton Chekhov said, “Wisdom comes not from age, but from education and learning”.

As a beginner in supply chain management, you will be prone to mistakes. And may not always make the right decisions. The good news is that it is acceptable in the beginning, and businesses and customers may not frown on it so much.

But at a certain level, some mistakes are definitely unacceptable. 

It is critical for you to keep learning. Learn from your mistakes, workshops, seminars, certifications, or going back to school. But by all means, keep improving. Some necessary areas you may want to focus on are people management, communication, and these supply chain principles.

Continuous improvement is important for successful supply chains. One of the ways to ensure this is by continuously learning and applying these to the supply chain operation.

Invest in Building Relationships With Your Suppliers

Your suppliers or partners are another critical element to the success of your supply chain operation.

In fact, without them, modern supply chain operations will struggle. This is primarily because modern supply chains are so big and complex. They need help from experts such as suppliers to remain competitive and cheaper.

In the modern supply chain, no business or operation is an island.

Building a relationship with these suppliers, especially from a long-term perspective, would always be a great plus to your supply chain. A good relationship with suppliers or vendors is a great catalyst for desirables like supply chain visibility and agility. Suppliers who enjoy a great relationship with you would always prioritize your interest, helping you avoid minor disruptions in your supply chain.

Diversify Your Suppliers

Building relationships with suppliers is great, but remember to always diversify.

The modern supply chain is continuously moving. And suppliers are a major reason for this constant movement. One slip or misstep by one of them can disrupt the entire supply chain. It is important to diversify your supplier base because it will prevent your entire supply chain from grounding to a halt when/if one supplier fails to meet its obligations. 

Sometimes, it may be the supplier’s fault; other times, it may be because of circumstances beyond their control.

Whatever the case, relying on one supplier can harm your supply chain process. As a rule of thumb, have a major supplier for every arm of your supply chain. But it would also help if you worked with other suppliers in the same field or process to keep them active and shield your supply chain from potential disappointment from the primary supplier.

Focus on Sustainability

Sustainability is the big push of the 21st century.

While it will not entirely determine the success of your supply chain operation, it will determine whether customers favour products from your supply chain and business. Implementing sustainability measures across the supply chain puts you in good standing with the government, customers, and potential businesses that want to partner with the supply chain.

It can be costly to implement, but it is a cost saver in the long term.

Invest in Demand and Supply Planning

Your supply chain strategy might be great, but without adequate investment in demand and supply planning, you will constantly have over-production or underproduction challenges.

Demand and supply planning is more than just forecasting. The entire planning process is based on forecasting data, from sourcing materials to manufacturing, storage and distribution to the end user. It helps you analyze your consumers and market to get the best out of your supply chain while reducing costs.

Have An Inventory Strategy

Inventory strategies are related to supply planning.

You cannot have one without the order. You can develop inventory strategies based on the industry you are in. As a supply chain beginner, you should know that the right inventory strategy can save you a lot of stress and streamline your approach to the market.

Here are some examples:

The Aerospace inventory favours the pull inventory strategy. Fast foods use just-in-time inventory strategies. And most of the tech industry (phones) favours the push inventory strategy. 

Perhaps the most overlooked aspect of inventory strategies is that organizations mix and match them to get the best out of their supply chain.

Whatever industry you find yourself in, study the demand pattern within that industry and plan out your inventory strategy. Your operations may necessitate that your inventory strategy be different from the competition. But whatever the case, invest in setting up an inventory strategy that ensures your goods get to the consumers on time and when needed.

Getting the best strategy that works for you would give you an edge over the competition.

Always Innovate

As a supply chain beginner, you will quickly find that supply chains constantly evolve.

But it is good news for your supply chain. It means that you have the abilityy to continuously innovate. As a supply chain professional, you should study every arm of the supply chain or the current supply chain process you are working, searching for opportunities to innovate. 

Supply chain innovation doesn’t have to be groundbreaking.

It can be as simple as correcting an error or manipulating the supply process to reduce lead times. It could be deciding to pursue economies of scale with one supplier or implementing techs like robotics to automate the supply chain process. Innovation is new ideas that are always welcome in the supply chain.


As a supply chain beginner, all of these may not apply to you immediately.

Especially because you may mostly be starting off from one process or in a smaller area of the supply chain. But you can apply as much of this tips as possible to whatever area you find yourself operating from. In areas where leadership is missing it, you can also call attention to it.

Always remember that a supply chain that works is a business that works.

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