A supply network is a broad term used to describe the resources used in the process of preparing goods and services for delivery to customers. The exact structure of this type of network will vary somewhat, based on the type of products that are ultimately delivered to those clients. In the broadest application, the supply network will include all vendors, internal policies and procedures, and the selection of shippers that are used to complete the cycle and place the products into the hands of the customers.
One of the integral components of any supply network is the supply chain. The supply chain involves the selection of vendors to supply raw materials for the production of goods and services, and arranging for the delivery of those materials in a timely manner to the manufacturing plant. Supply chain management also focuses attention on the strategies that have an impact on the goods while they are moving through the production process and even through to their completion. The idea behind this supply chain management is to make sure customer orders are completed in a timely manner with a minimum of waste, and ultimately delivered in a time frame that is considered satisfactory to the customer.
The creation of a supply network involves understanding what elements are needed to successfully fill customer orders, in terms of quality, volume, and price. In order to accomplish this, the supply network must include vendors who can deliver resources of a certain quality on a tight schedule. From there, the network will include the establishment of quality controls to make sure the goods or services are produced efficiently but with an eye to quality as well as speed of production. The supply network goes on to include the selection of shippers who are capable of delivering the completed orders within an acceptable time frame, as well as within a reasonable cost range.
Depending on the nature of the business, a supply network can be somewhat simplistic or be a broad and comprehensive collection of interconnected resources that serves to keep the company operation moving forward. As businesses grow and increase the size of their customer bases, networks tend to become more complex as additional vendors are required for specific purposes and contributions to the production and delivery cycle. From time to time, companies will evaluate the current nature of a supply network, assess its efficiency and make changes as needed.