Flipping the Script: How Email Can Help Improve Supply Chain Communication

Our readers recently answered a poll expressing their interest in improving inbox organization skills in 2023. Why is this important? Consider the current climate. The supply chain crisis has hit the digital infrastructure industry quite hard. The moving pieces increase by the minute, and in many ways, managing it all is quite similar to a game of chess. 

Whether you’re responsible for logistics, procurement, manufacturing operations, inventory, company and client communications, or project management, your job is to remain calm and in control. When you’re in back-to-back meetings and trying to keep up with the demand, you see that inbox number increasing by the second. Does it feel like you can’t keep up? Did you lose a crucial email? Are you looking to follow up with a supplier or forgot to respond to a prospect? Did you miss the deadline? Instead of thinking of email as the enemy, let’s position it as the hero. Whether we like it or not, “email is a key point of contact between the supplier and the manufacturers as well as the supplier and the customer.”

Let Go of the Inbox Zero Concept

Let’s stay away from the panic button next year. For many of us, disorganization can lead to panic. Let’s acknowledge that it’s okay to have more emails flooding your inbox. We’d be surprised if you didn’t. With doubling down on sourcing suppliers and developing relationships with these suppliers, a lot is going on in this facet alone. You might not ever clear your inbox to zero. Say it out loud. Inbox Zero is not always a tangible goal – let’s move on to something that is. 

Step 1: Meet Labels: Your New Best Friend

Folders, labels, whatever you want to call them based on your email tool; it’s time to set them up and do so extensively. Create folders/labels that make sense for your needs. 

If you have these set up, move on to Step 2. 

Step 2: Create Sub-Folders and Sub-Labels

Now, this is the time-consuming part. Perhaps you’re feeling organized because you already have folders. What if you receive 100 emails on several different sub-topics that then get placed into solely one folder? We bet it may take you quite a while to find what you’re looking for, despite it being in a folder. Take the time to create these sub-labels and understand this is a work in progress. You’ll always be adding and removing sub-labels to fit your needs. 

Step 3: Be Intentional With Your Stars and Flags

The point of starring and flagging emails is to do so with the intention your starred email folder isn’t full of 1,000 starred emails. That would defeat the purpose. Suppose you need to respond to a supplier by EOD, star, or flag it accordingly. Once the task is complete, unstar/flag it and move it into its respective folder. We find that if we don’t remove the star, it creates unnecessary clutter. 

Step 4: Archive, Archive, Archive!

Deleting seems so permanent, sometimes. Although you have a recently deleted folder for a reason, if you don’t want something in your inbox but aren’t ready to delete, try archiving the messages. If you wind up needing access, you’ll still be able to find it. Bonus point? Removing those messages from your line of sight still provides that satisfaction. 

Step 5: Here’s the Challenge

Take the first 30 minutes of your day to organize your inbox. Star what you need to focus on or respond to and set a goal to archive X number of emails per day. That goal is on you – do what feels tangible and stick to it.

Why Is This Important? 

With the primary communication tool still being email, implementing these steps will enable you to connect with your prospects and suppliers more effectively, efficiently, and promptly. You’ll find yourself sending fewer emails that say, “Can you forward that attachment one more time,” and less time conferring with your colleagues searching for emails and looking for the latest update. Not only will you appear organized, but you’ll be organized. There will be less confusion about deadlines, lead times, or supply disruptions. Miscommunications will be at a minimum. Your prospects will thank you, your suppliers and customers will find joy in working with you, and your team will acknowledge this and hopefully take some tips with them. Effective supply chain email communication lowers stress felt by all. 

At 165 Halsey Street, we continue to provide our customers with available power and customizable solutions. We do so in the most efficient and organized way possible: cool, calm, and collected. Checkmate.