Your Guide to Supply Chain Finance

Getting your supplies moving efficiently can be important stuff. In many respects, the more streamlined your ship, the smoother the sea.

And an optimised supply chain network can really work wonders for profitability. Especially if the system you choose to use is free, which, these days, it can be.

You want to be able to get your hands on the right product for the customer at the right time — not to mention at the right price.

Your customers will thank you for it, as will your warehouse. Imagine being able to optimise order quantities for your personal warehouse capacity?

Too little inventory and you might come across problems. Too much and it might impact on cashflow. But choosing a cash flow management system isn’t always easy and so here are a few simple tips.

Does it work?

Make the effort to really understand how it all works and ask lots of questions of the system managers. Ask about any problems, specifically downtime, which can hit your business hard – or whether there are any problems and losses that could outweigh the potential gains. It’s also worth asking for references from the system manager. Speak to the people who already use it and get their thoughts.

Shop around

I’ve seen the good, the bad and the very, very ugly in my 20 years working in this sector. As you look at different models, you’ll find some to be immediately attractive – and others to be unbelievable cumbersome. But, all the same, you should try to explore a number of systems before settling on one. It’s rather like buying a house – go and take a second and third viewing before committing. Get a proper feel for it.

Make sure it is financially viable.

If it’s not, then what’s the point? You don’t want to be shelling out hundreds of pounds a month on a system that isn’t right for you. There is a new wave of cloud-based supply chain management systems that incorporates the latest technologies and elements such as peer-to-peer usability.

Avoid complacency

Upgrading or changing to a new provider might seem unappealing and possibly not worth the effort, especially if you already have a system in place. But that shouldn’t stop you from looking at some of the latest developments in the market. Things have moved on significantly in the past twelve months. Go and speak to the new providers and get an understanding of the implications of switching – you might be surprised at how easy switching has become.

Think about both sides

Consider your needs as both a buyer and a supplier – not just one or the other. And think about how your system might work for your business contacts. Some systems are better at this than others. In our own supply chain management system, we have integrated the flow of finance for suppliers by adding P2P lending into the infrastructure.

That’s a proper boon. Any system which allows small businesses to access funds that are owed to them on a 60, 90 or 120 day invoice basis can be a valuable tool.

Ultimately, support for all areas of buyer-supplier transactions oils the wheels of commerce. The right system will oversee everything from processing and approval of invoices, through to payment and settlement to P2P lenders. It will help suppliers to grow, while simplifying life for buyers.

More importantly, maybe, it could bring production costs down too.

Just make sure you pick the best management system for your operation. Your supply chain will be all the better for it.