Finding a New Job
Finding a New Job

You’re Asked How You Would Improve a Company’s Supply Chain – What Do You Say?

Interviewers are increasingly asking job seekers how they might improve company operations if hired or what they could do to add value.

Because they can be seen as an invitation to criticize the company, these questions are tricky to answer. The best approach to handling these questions is to avoid criticism and bring up some best practices that are being implemented across the industry.

For supply chain professionals, this might mean discussing “lean” supply chain practices. Many supply chain departments and organizations face three primary problems: poor delivery performance, a mismatch between internal metrics and customer satisfaction or good performance, but costs that are too high. Lean practices are designed for efficiency and targeted to improve customer satisfaction while keeping costs down.

Considering offering up these lean practices the next time a supply chain interviewer asks you about improvements you might make.

Reducing lead times

Lead time is a major enemy of delivery efficiency. This includes the lead times to handle an order, resupply from providers, distribute goods and pack an order. Every addition of lead time will to add inventory and will raise the risk of not delivering on time.

An effective approach to decreasing lead time is to truly understand it by using a value stream map, which highlights sensible ways to cut back lead time across the supply chain. A value stream map might indicate the benefits of creating continual flow in production operations using lean methods, dealing with the root factors behind provider lead times, getting rid of time waste or removing specific links from the distribution chain.

Connecting demand with supply

Supply chain operations would be a lot simpler if only it were possible to get an accurate forecast. However, forecasting demand for three months from now is about as easy as forecasting the weather at around the same timeframe.

That being said, there are certain things we can predict about the weather: We know it will be hot in summer and cold in winter. Also, a high-level forecast for demand can be useful in trying to achieve on-time delivery in the future.

A sales and operations planning process (S&OP) is an effective tool that should be a primary building block of a supply chain. At its most fundamental, the process involves a demand review, a supply review and an S&OP meeting.

Efficient product management

It is simpler to ensure delivery of 100 products on time than it is to deliver tens of thousands of products. A lax approach to product management leads to a proliferation of product lines and a “long tail” of slow-moving goods with inconsistent demand. The fewer products you have, the better they will be to handle and deliver on time.

Each product or group of items in your company must have someone accountable for product management. This person ought to be accountable for determining which products get launched and which are deleted and when.

Furthermore, sales and inventory should be regularly analyzed to understand which products are adding to revenue and profits and which are not. Products that aren’t adding to revenue should be questioned as to whether they should be continued or eliminated.

Work With a Top Supply Chain Recruiter

At ZDA, we keep abreast of the latest supply chain practices and developments to better serve our clients. If your company is currently looking for a custom talent acquisition solution, please contact a top supply chain recruiter today.


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