Benchmarking your supply chain is a great Supply chain optimization tool. Without benchmarking your supply chain you will be blissfully unaware of where there are deficiencies or poor performance, so you need to benchmark your supply chain and here are some top tips to help make the process as effective as possible!

1. The first thing that you need to do is to decide what you are going to use as the base for your benchmarking exercise. You need to decide how, in principle you are going to assess and evaluate each supplier; what is important to your company?
2. Once you have decided on the type of benchmarking exercise you are about to embark on then you will need to ensure that you decide on the right kind of metrics that will help to achieve the overall goals that you have set for this exercise. There are so many different types of benchmarking metrics out there, that it is impossible to say which is the best one for your company. But investigate the different options available and try to secure a package that really meets your own specific needs.
3. The third step on the road to a highly effective benchmarking process is to get the senior management involved. You need to have the highest level of both management support and participation for the exercise to be seen as being of any worth. After all once the exercise is complete, you will probably need to make changes and without management support, you will simply not be able to implement the changes that will bring about greater improvements.
4. Next you will need to inform your suppliers (all of the suppliers within the supply chain) that you are going to benchmark the supply chain. This should not be presented to them as a threat, simply a way that you can all work together to ensure that the supply chain is not just effective, but is also stable.
5. One way to ensure that you will be able to undertake a very effective benchmarking exercise is to look at comparing the characteristics of your suppliers, rather than the finished products they furnish you with. This makes sure that you do not get caught up in comparing products; what is important is the characteristics of the suppliers, not the appearance of their products.
6. You need to allocate roles and responsibilities within this exercise. Tell your suppliers what is expected of them but also what is expected of you. You will also need to tell them who they should contact, who will answer any queries and so on. This kind of communication is vital if you are to get the best out of this exercise.
7. Once you have completed the benchmarking exercise it is important that you fully analyse the findings and identify where improvements can be made. This should be done carefully so that you reap all the potential benefits possible from benchmarking.
8. Now you have identified where improvements should be made, it is necessary to turn them into reality. This is where the backing of senior management will come in. They will help you to make a real difference simply by giving you their full endorsement.
9. After the improvements have been implemented then they need to be monitored to see just how effective they were. After all, you are trying for quality here, so you need to make sure that what you thought would improve things, has actually resulted in this.
10. If you had assumed that the final exercise in the benchmarking process would be to simply sit back and congratulate yourself on a job well done, then you are right. However, after the self congratulation you need to embark on setting the timeframe for the next benchmarking exercise, to ensure that complacency does not set in……….


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