Supply chain

In our careers, logistics and supply chain came before consulting. During this time, we discovered a shared passion for problem solving and saving time by making things more efficient, long before we realised that it could lead to even more. But it did!

And the result is Efficient Thinking Solutions; a blend of the most effective improvement methods, tools and techniques – the bits that we know work best – and a delivery approach that engages with and encourages people to get involved.

Between us we have a long catalogue of operational experience that covers every aspect of supply chain management. Often, it is this practical experience that differentiates us from the competition:


When we say

we understand’ – we really do!

we have experienced that’ – we really have!

we can help you fix that’ – we really can!


There isn’t a supply chain-related problem we haven’t experienced and overcome for ourselves and, of course, we’ve since gone on to help many others solve them too.

It ain't what you do, it's the way that you do it - That's what gets results!

Supply chain or logistics?

The term ‘supply chain’ often gets confused with ‘logistics’ and supply chain can mean many different things in different sectors. But there is a difference: for us it’s a question of scale.

Supply chain

A supply chain is the movement of goods and data flows that get products or services from the point of a customer order or request through to delivery. All organisations have supply chains to some degree.


Logistics is the industry that has grown up around supply chains for large organisations, e.g. manufacturing, supermarkets, home shopping, etc. The UK logistics industry is worth approximately £55bn to the economy and comprises 5% of the UK GDP. The scale of investment in the logistics industry has been prompted by large companies seeking to minimise the costs of their storage and distribution activities. This has resulted in the development of numerous high value, sophisticated IT systems and specialist providers. And this is where our careers began.

For smaller companies and public sector organisations, this level of investment is not always affordable, necessary or appropriate: they often simply don’t move sufficient volumes to warrant the costs involved. But they can still benefit from having an efficient supply chain.

When we established Efficient Thinking Solutions, we decided we wanted to focus our supply chain skills on supporting companies outside of the mainstream logistics sector; those for whom the supply chain may not be a priority and something they perhaps only notice when it doesn’t work!

“Efficient Thinking were very quickly able to identify real opportunities for organisational and systemic improvement. Better still was the fact that solutions followed just as quickly”

Why your supply chain matters

Whatever the challenge, we can help you design a supply chain that adds value instead of costing you money.

An efficient and effective supply chain avoids problems, such as:

  • Not knowing how much your supply chain is costing you
  • The cost of ordering too much stock and having to find somewhere to store it all
  • The cost of out-of-date stock, and having to reorder replacements
  • The cost of running out of things and the resulting wasted staff time
  • Time lost looking for products or documents
  • The time it takes to find out what’s going on
  • Lost revenue when things can’t go ahead because something hasn’t been delivered or isn’t available
  • Time spent trying to decide what product to purchase and from where
  • Time spent in accounts payable trying to resolve payment issues

Longer established members of the team were able to learn directly from ETS’ example and this learning is still adding value.

The 5 principles of a successful supply chain

The cost of not investing in your supply chain is costing you far more than the investment required to manage it but an expensive IT system need not be your first point of call.

A highly effective supply chain can be created without the need to invest in complicated IT systems. If you feel an IT system is required we would always encourage you to test, develop and refine your supply chain processes first. It’s so easy to invest in the wrong system – something that doesn’t suit your specific requirements.

Here are some of the areas you should investigate to ensure your supply chain works effectively for your organisation:


Measure all the relevant information in terms of cost, order status, supply, stock holding, expiry date if applicable and usage patterns as part of your everyday processes instead of making it a separate activity or project.


It’s important to know how your supply chain benefits your business. Remember to look at things from a different perspective and use the data/information captured above to enable better decision making.


Invest in your supply chain, e.g. racking, proper equipment, suitable storage location and a dedicated team – it’ll save you money in the long run.
Recognise its importance in driving the business forward and creating competitive advantage.


Everyone can learn from each other’s experience and knowledge of good practice. Collaboration amongst teams and with suppliers will unlock the potential within your supply chain, continually looking for opportunities to improve even more.


An easily accessible view of what’s going on so that everyone can see what’s happening, plan the work and spot any potential issues before they become problems.

“Relationship management throughout the entire supply chain came naturally to Steve. I will have no hesitation in phoning Steve to work with us again”