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Managing Your Supply Chain, the ‘Kaizen’ Way

May 26, 2017

Organizations are on a never-ending quest to disrupt the market and thereby become the market leaders. In this quest of theirs, there are times when their ideas and concepts might do wonders for them but more often than not, it just results in a debacle. This leaves them wondering what went wrong. You cannot sail on two ships at the same time, right? Similarly, when the business has multiple things on their plate without the full participation of the internal stakeholders, who are confused and uninvolved, ideas are bound to fizzle out.

Kaizen is a Japanese term which means continuous improvement or change for the better. This is an age old concept that has gained momentum in supply chain, manufacturing and production industry. It emphasizes on smaller yet continuous changes that will have an impact on a wide array of functions and thereby improve product, service or processes and eliminate waste. The backbone of the kaizen philosophy demands the involvement of every person directly associated with the organization, irrespective of his/her designation and hierarchy level to ensure improvement of processes and systems of that organization.

Change for the better, Just Kaizen Things

Kaizen, as mentioned earlier, is a process and not the result, as it emphasizes on a process-oriented approach in order to improve the results. This means that the outcome is a consequence of numerous small processes interlinked to each other. This philosophy heavily relies on the PDCA concept – Plan, Do, Check and Act – that is a repetition of four steps to control and improve the supply chain and other business processes. In the supply chain and logistics function, kaizen holds more relevance as the processes involved can be improvised, revamped and redesigned so as to enhance its efficiency and effectiveness thereby creating a competitive advantage. According to Toyota’s Taichi Ohno, there are several wastes involved in manufacturing the perfect supply chain, namely,

  • Overproduction
  • Waiting time
  • Inventory risks
  • Transportation issues
  • Product or process defects

Therefore, it requires for every employee from top management to the grassroots to work on eliminating waste on a daily basis.

Kaizen Your Way Through Your Supply Chain

This philosophy has gained importance in supply chain management and still hold wide applicability in any area of the organization. It emphasizes on the impact each individual has on the success of the business objectives. It is a desirable method as it encompasses all the resources, innovations and strategies and focuses on each step till it achieves a certain level of efficiency. One step at a time, much? Yes. You may ask how this philosophy of continuous improvement impacts the supply chain? Here’s how.

Supply chain is a one large process that includes several small and big intricate processes to keep it moving. There are suppliers to be managed, production processes to be developed, quality control to be taken care of so as to reduce waste and costs simultaneously, ensuring these products reach the customers on time and much more. Hence, each of these activities can be improved and enhanced to eliminate waste and thereby, achieve greater efficiency and smooth flow in the supply chain.

At SpendEdge, we offer expert services in supply market intelligence and supply chain management with a broad range of solutions that include but are not limited to supplier management, spend analysis and benchmarking, tail spend management, low cost country sourcing and pricing strategy development among others.

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