The following guest blog comes to us from Laura Gayle of Business Women Guide.

The Marie Kondo revolution has inspired many people to purge their cluttered closets, dresser drawers, and kitchen cabinets. The ultimate goal is to create an environment that “sparks joy” in one’s life. While it’s a great feeling to have a de-cluttered home, what about work? According to some analysts, the average person spends more than 13 years of their life at work. Wouldn't it be great to feel joyful there, too?

For those working in supply chain management, you know how easily the workweek hours can increase when you’re working under pressure to ensure timely completion or dealing with a problem somewhere along the line. With so much time, money, and energy invested in your brand, why not clean up your supply chain to “spark joy” within the business — and its budget?

Tidy up your work environment

Before you turn attention to the logistics of your supply chain, take some time to tidy up your immediate work environment. The lack of clutter in your immediate range will allow you a sharper focus as you get down to the nitty-gritty details of streamlining and improving your supply chain.
  • Start with your desk. Empty its contents entirely and determine which items are useful, sentimental or otherwise “spark joy.” Remove anything that doesn’t fit into those categories and put aside into piles for discarding, donating, or recycling.
  • Examine your office space. Is it open and modern, or cluttered and stuffy? If it reminds you of a 1980s cubicle, it’s time to modernize that workplace and bring your surroundings into the 21st century.
  • Assess the flow and function. Is your office space practical? If you’ve outgrown the space or it’s too outdated, consider moving. Or, alternatively, you can place your seasonal inventory or less-often-used items in a small storage unit to make the space more manageable.
Once you’ve got your office space tidy and functioning more smoothly, you can turn your eye towards other types of work-related cleanup.

Do a digital purge

The next area to tackle is digital files and accounts. Take a critical look at your digital environment to see what can be cleaned up to make things run more efficiently or to bring improvements to your brand.
  • Check the state of your email inbox. Is it easy to scan or is it overflowing with old or unread emails? Spend some time performing a solid routine of sort, file, and delete. Then set up a more efficient way of managing new email by rerouting to folders and setting aside specific times of day to manage email.
  • Purge your contacts. Delete old contacts from your email account. Be sure the contacts you want to save are labeled properly so they are easy to identify.
  • Review your digital files. Are the files on your desktop and hard drives organized and aligned neatly, or are things stored anywhere with no rhyme or reason? If it’s the latter, remedy this.
  • Separate old files from new ones. Put into digital “storage” any old files you no longer use regularly but may need to access at a later point in time.
  • Sort through apps. Which apps are useful and which are not? Uninstall any you don’t need or those that are resource hogs on your devices.
  • Comb through client, supplier, and vendor lists. Are there any that are no longer a good fit? If so, time to gently sever ties. Marie Kondo advises thanking any to-be-discarded object for its service; make sure to release your business contacts with the same respect.
  • Review your customer service practices. Are calls, emails, and other contacts being answered or returned in a timely fashion? Do you need to introduce chatbots into your client-facing operations? If it can be better, make it better.
  • Upgrade your website. Is the information on your company website fresh and up to date? Does it have attractive imagery and flawless copy? If not, invest some energy in making it more appealing.

By cleaning and organizing your company’s website, accounts, electronic devices (computers, tablets, mobile devices, and just about anything digital), you’ll likely find things running far more quickly and efficiently. Not to mention, if play your cards right, you can potentially attract a whole new market of customers.

Eliminate wasteful items and processes across the supply chain

When it comes to logistics, simplifying what you do nearly always makes things run faster. Essentially, you’ll want to do fewer things — but do the things you do, better. You’ll also want to pay attention to the societal desire for companies to “go green” and strive to clean up any questionable practices or chemicals used in the supply chain. Consider these elements for cleanup:
  • Examine your materials. Can the amounts of any raw materials be reduced? What about costly materials: Are there equitable substitutes? Any feasible “greener” options for packaging?
  • Deal with disposal. Are there any practicable newer or better methods of recycling? What about scrap materials: Can they be reused in some way?
  • Think about transport and delivery. Are there ways you haven’t yet found to reduce your company’s carbon footprint? Can you identify cleaner or more efficient methods of moving your product?
  • Assess your inventory control. Is your system efficient? Does it tell you precisely every detail you need to know at a glance? Is the software outdated or glitchy? Could newer tools do a better job?
  • Check your quality control. Do your practices governing quality control work as they should? Any room for improvement?
  • Examine e-commerce practices. Are there helpful resources available to e-commerce customers to help them choose the right product the first time? For instance, do you supply accurate sizing charts and color descriptions? This can help reduce return rates.
  • Calculate your return percentage. Statistics indicate that it's likely way too high. Bring this number down by creating a customer-centric policy, using better packing materials to reduce damaged item rates, and eliminating instances of wrong items shipped.
  • Manage marketing materials. Do your current marketing and promotional efforts “spark joy?” Eliminate any materials or campaigns that are outdated or off target, or that otherwise don’t quite make the cut.
  • Study the overall effect. Does your brand itself “spark joy” in customers? Or do certain products have a short shelf life and end up in thrift stores? If so, redesign, reimagine, or make other changes to tighten and improve your brand appearance and presence.
To further simplify things, if you represent your company at major events, eliminate the associated stress by planning in advance for trade shows or conferences and breaking the process down into smaller, more manageable chunks.

Looking at your business from a “Marie Kondo” perspective can ultimately have a dramatic impact on your business, including its appearance, brand recognition, logistics — and, ultimately, its bottom line. The more efficient, greener, cleaner, and streamlined your workplace surroundings and supply chain management processes become, the more resourceful and profitable your company can be.
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