5 Ways to Manage Supply Chain Documents!

Supply Chain Documents

With globalization came the increase in the shipment of goods from one country to another. This made the world more interconnected and gave more opportunities for businesses. These goods come in and out of warehouses and stores with a paper trail of Supply Chain documents, so it’s easier to know where they are.

As such, supply chain documents should be treated with the utmost care. As your business grows, the more supply chain documents you will handle. It’s important to note that supply chain documentation doesn’t only take place at the trading level. There are steps to be taken before goods can be traded in order to ensure the success of a business. 

Here are five of the main steps a business takes to successfully manage its supply chain:

  • Planning 

As the old saying goes, ‘failure to plan is planning for failure.’ The planning stage is where you decide which raw materials will be used, how and when they will be transported, and to whom.

  • Sourcing

At this stage, you research the quality of the products and materials to determine who will be your supplier for anything essential for the successful running of your business daily.

  • Making 

Production is the main focus at this stage. You may want to take documentation of activities seriously. Products are also tested, packed, and released.

  • Delivering 

Again, documentation of events shouldn’t be taken lightly at this stage. This stage might easily be the busiest. You have to process inquiries by consumers, select distribution transport and schedules, manage warehouse and inventory.

Larger organizations may hire external help to handle these tasks. This is also when invoices for customers are made and payments received.

  • Returning 

A client may be unsatisfied with a product and return it. This stage is where you manage returns. The product may also be defective. Ideally, you should identify the product condition, authorize returns, schedule shipment, replace defective products, and/or offer refunds.

This stage also requires proper documentation to avoid theft, confusion, and to promote accountability and transparency.

Managing supply chain documents can be quite tedious. Luckily, there are tweaks you can do in your processes so management can be done without losing your mind or sinking in confusion.

Here’s a list of ways to manage supply chain documents effectively and efficiently:

1. Consider Using Paperless Solutions

You will often see offices flooded with files from one end to the next. Chances are, some of the documents haven’t been touched in years. What happens when someone new comes to work in the same office? They can surely expect chaos as they won’t know where to start to look for certain documents.

To prevent that, you can adopt paperless solutions like cloud storage and online faxing. This enables you to access your documents anytime and anywhere in the world. All you need is an internet connection and a smartphone, laptop, or tablet.

This way, you can ensure that important documents are not lost or misplaced. Messages are encrypted and can only be accessed by the recipient. The use of strong passwords makes business much more confidential and secure.

2. Update Your Records Regularly

The easiest way to keep your records up to date is to organize them accordingly. Now that you know the five stages of supply chain management, it may be wise to organize your documents according to each stage. This will make it easier for you to access specific information you may be looking for.

Another way is to update your files at regular intervals. For example, you can do the updates every two weeks. You can add new plans, shipment details, returns, defects, etc. This way you will not feel like you’re overwhelmed with work. You can also easily communicate changes across teams. 

Thanks to advanced technology, you can send multiple messages to different users at the same time. Thus, documents can be shared across teams in a time-effective way, with nothing being lost or misplaced.

3. Create Efficient Internal Controls

Create a paperless system that allows the company decision-makers instant and hassle-free access to important documents. You may do this by making a centralized portal that is accessible to company executives.

Efficiency is important in any supply chain business. Therefore, take these steps to simplify your business processes so that key stakeholders can navigate them with ease. 

4. Delegate Effectively

You obviously don’t do business alone. You have end receivers of your products that may sometimes be satisfied or not. They may return defects to you or order more products. It’s wise to put up a united front when it comes to dealing with your customers.

You may want to send documents to your customers concerning refunds, deliveries, and shipment dates. It may be wise to avoid confusing them by communicating from different ends. Delegate individuals to handle the movement of documents to and from your customers so they are not confused about whom to deal with.

This will improve business flow and promote accountability as documents can serve as evidence when the need arises.

5. Be Transparent And Accountable 

After figuring out how you can keep your documents updated and accessible through a paperless solution of your choice, create transparency. You can achieve this by documenting supplier processes.

Through this, you can create visibility for your suppliers. You can openly share output documents and open yourself up to suggestions. This open-ended sharing of documents creates trust between you and your suppliers. It can also you both achieve better results.

Transparency and accountability are necessary for the smooth running of a business. Shared documents can serve as reminders for one to keep their end of the bargain in the business deal. You may avoid more losses this way as you minimize defects and returns.


Supply chain documents are very important and should be organized and handled carefully. They provide transparency, accountability, and important details involving the steps taken in supply chain management.

You can update your documents regularly, create easy access for main stakeholders, and adopt a culture of transparency to ensure your documents are well managed.

Supply Chain documents article and permission to publish here provided by Claire Glassman. Originally written for Supply Chain Game Changer and published on December 30, 2021.