The Top 10 Supply Chain Improvement Strategies

Changes in the supply chain world occurring too quickly for you? “This path to supply chain excellence will position your organization for success now and into the future,” says Jim Tompkins, president of Tompkins Associates, a Raleigh, NC-based supply chain consulting and material handling integration firm. He’s talking about the Top 10 List of Supply Chain Improvement Strategies, designed to transcend the shifts taking place in technology, channel structures, globalization, sourcing and customer demands, and help you decide on a clear path to improvement.

Top 10 Supply Chain Improvement Strategies


1. Educate. All departments within your link and all links in your supply chain must have a common understanding of the supply chain.
2. Benchmark. Understand how your performance compares to your competitors, to other industries, and to best in class.
3. Assessment. Understand the status of all departments within your link and all links in your supply chain. Compare them to the Six Levels of Supply Chain Excellence:

  • Level I, Business as Usual
  • Level II, Link Excellence
  • Level III, Visibility
  • Level IV, Collaboration
  • Level V, Synthesis
  • Level VI, Velocity

4. Prioritize. Use the information from your benchmark and assessment efforts to identify specific targets for supply chain enhancements.

5. Weakest Link. Be aware that the weakest department within your link and the weakest link in your supply chain will drive performance.

6. Communicate. Even over-communicate with all involved in your supply chain so that everyone understands what, why, when, who and when. Let there be no surprises.

7. Partnerships. Only join with supply chain partners who are ready to partner. Partnering with a link that has not achieved Level II Link Excellence will not net positive results.

8. Leadership. On each supply chain initiative, identify the proper skill sets required to lead the effort. Assure clarity of roles and responsibilities and cultural compatibility.

9. Core Competencies. Identify these, focus on them and outsource the rest. Determine the unique business processes that make you successful, then use a robust process to outsource other functions.

10. Continuous Improvement. An ongoing process is required for you to pursue Supply Chain Excellence. Never stop pushing for the next level of excellence.

By following these strategies, says Tompkins, you will be aware of coming trends and be able to choose the ones that best fit your company’s goals and culture. To learn more about these strategies, visit