Planning supply chains consists of all the processes, activities and agents involved in satisfying customer demand and providing the required product or service in proper conditions. As we can see in the chart below, these processes range from managing the products and services portfolio, to the delivery of products or services to our customers.
The evolution of new technologies and the use of new IT tools have affected the planning of supply chains. On the one hand, they facilitate and improve the design, control and management. On the other hand, they have given way to a completely new scenario, full of challenges and new opportunities that require updating, revision and constant adaptation of their planning.
The new opportunities associated with B2C e-commerce, for example, or the consumers’ demand to receive customized solutions have transformed the market, creating new challenges when planning and managing supply chains and other areas that are part of the products and services provision.
Until recently, planning supply chains took place in a framework where the applications and technological tools, despite simplifying and optimizing the processes, did not condition planning in a decisive way.
Today, the planning complexity of any supply chain has increased, partly due to the technological advances and the unstoppable sophistication of all kinds of tools and applications; and besides, of course, to the need for customized operations and the demand for an immediate supply in an ever-growing market.
All the areas related to supply chains have been affected by these developments, but especially and more significantly, planning. Today, markets require the development of more accurate and precise stock controls, sales and growth forecasts backed by increasingly detailed and complex data and studies, strategies design in both production and asset management, and even more dynamic, flexible and adaptable logistics to suit a reality in constant change. In this regard, we can even consider having different product distribution channels, tailored to the level of service required by the different types of customers.
As mentioned before, e-commerce or electronic commerce has been one of the main causes of this transformation. There are many others, but this case meets all the challenges and opportunities related to the planning of supply chains that are present today:
– The provision of services and customized solutions to customers / consumers.
– The transformation of prices and services policies
– The increasingly complex customer loyalty
– The importance of costs policies
– The growing and stronger international presence
– The need to fragment traditional market niches
On the one hand, business opportunities have increased. On the other hand, survival has become a matter of vital importance, versus the traditional pursuit of profitability. Within the current framework and scenarios, proper planning of the supply chain becomes essential to ensure the success of any business strategy.