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Steps Every Supply Chain Project Manager Should Follow

Stairs made of blocks

Coming up with a project idea is difficult but still possible. What's far more challenging is finding the right things to do to make your idea a reality. As a possible solution, we've prepared a guide on the steps every supply chain project manager should follow!

Define your deliverables

'Deliverables' are the goods, services, or other benefits, such as developing a solid supply chain strategy, which are direct results of your project. There are two reasons why defining deliverables first is one of the steps every supply chain project manager should follow. First, it allows you to properly lay out your goals and the concrete benefits of your project. That will let you more easily convey your intentions and earn the approval of your higher-ups. In other words, it is easier to get the project green-list if you are upfront about its results. The second reason is that once the project is approved, you'll have a solid justification for refusing any attempts to force any additional or unrealistic demands on you. After all, you can cite that your demanded resources only allow you to do as much as was intended.

Boxes to fill with deliverables
Your deliverables dictate whether a project is worth doing.

Assess risks and impact

Another of the steps every supply chain project manager should follow that is doubly beneficial is the assessment of risks and impacts. First, this is helpful because it lets you brainstorm problems you might encounter. You can then properly avoid those problems and potentially head them off before they become relevant. The 'impact' of your project might seem less important. However, assessing your project's impact depends heavily on how you cite the deliverables before improving things for the company. It will give your project much more weight to have this assessed ahead of time since the benefits will be more apparent. The second reason is very much reminiscent of the first; seeing a properly analyzed and well-thought out plan will make it much easier to get your project approved and its budget secured.

Setting the scope of your project

Part and parcel of discussing a project are setting its primary objectives and requirements. That is a broader topic than deliverables, especially since it relates partially to how pervasive you want your project to be. Implementing your ideas in the local branches? Relatively easily manageable. Doing it on the scale of an entire state (or country)? Well, that's a very different task altogether. As such, ensure your scope is nailed down from the start, and that your deliverables are once again agreed upon and locked in. Otherwise, you might fall prey to the dreaded scope creep and suddenly find yourself overwhelmed, and your resources stretched then. As such, put down not only your project's scope but also what elements and features will not be part of its scope! That prevents sneaky additions or misunderstandings with your workload.

Budgeting and funding

Budgeting and even the scope of your project are not necessarily steps every supply chain project manager should follow before submitting their project for approval. However, it is handy to have it done beforehand for one simple reason: the chances of your budget getting cut are lower this way. If you come out the gate with everything figured out, you can easily get approved. Otherwise, if your project is approved and then the budget discussed, you might not get enough money to meet your original requirements. You'd need to trim your project's scope to compensate for that, and maybe struggle with some of your promised deliverables. That still happens sometimes, but your odds are much better when prepared.

Various global transportation methods
A local and a state-wide project need vastly different logistics backups.

Obtain all necessary approvals

The next step is, of course, getting approval. Depending on your position and the structure of the company you work for, you might need to get through several meetings at different levels of the company. So, the key is being confident in your project and doing as much as possible to prepare. Your project will be questioned, have holes poked in it, and your budgeting claims undervalued. It is up to you to do as much as possible to turn things in your favor. As such, all the prep work you've done will be your best weapon and shield!

Do not rush any part of the project

Once you've gotten your approval, do not rush into the project! As the experts from Heart Moving NYC like to point out, careful planning is crucial at every step. As such, take the time to reassess your project and chart the optimal steps you can take now! This is where your risk assessment will shine since you'll recognize some potential pitfalls well ahead of time.

Build a good team to support you

While it can be tempting to tackle a project alone, don't! It is exhausting, difficult, and you will burn yourself out faster than you likely imagine. You need a solid team you know you can rely on, on your side. And we are talking about more than just assistants and team members from your company. By the way, who will need permission from their team leaders and managers to join your project? You must also figure out vendors, suppliers, and maybe even consultants if your project demands them. At the very least, there are plenty of software solutions to improve coordination between all team members, so you don't need to worry about that.

Graphic showing the importance of a team
Assembling a project team is one of the steps every supply chain project manager should follow.

Iron out the project's timeline

The final step every supply chain project manager should follow is setting and adjusting their project timeline. You see, this is not something you can do before submitting your project for approval. It depends significantly on how many team members you get and their relevant competence. However, you can set exact dates to hit particular goals once you have your team! You can then dedicate your time to other, new logistics solutions.

What the success & future of your project hinge on...

Knowing the steps every supply chain project manager should follow will only serve to make things easier for you, even if that's "not your job"! However, the project's success still hinges on you and your effort. If you prepare enough, we are sure that you can make your project a real success story!


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