Driving Fundamental change in Supply Chain Effectiveness

In order to achieve creative solutions one must see the world without preconceptions – “this is how we, and others, have always done things, therefore, it must be right”- this is a trap we get tangled up in every day of the week.

Outlined below is the framework that I have used successfully to transform supply chains making them more resilient, more adaptive to changing circumstances and deliver product that meets all stakeholder requirements.

Challenged with uncertainty and fluctuating demand, reduced lifecycle expectations for new products and Customers who are more demanding, I have found the best way to address these challenges is by focusing on 6 key critical segments:

  1. Product Design Considerations
  2. Vendor Selection & Engagement
  3. Automated System Integration
  4. Customer Segmentation & Reward
  5. Strategic Inventory Management
  6. Logistics & Distribution Networking

These 6 segments must be met with collaboration between all stakeholders right across the business powered by automated information sharing that enables effective data analysis and real time decision-making must be at the core of operating all strategic supply chain operations.

I have outlined below an example of how the first of these six segments should work:

  1. Product Design Considerations

Effecting change on material selection enables avoidance of issues commonly experienced across many products:

a) Engineers selecting components that are fast becoming last year’s technology, yes, the particular component’s performance and reliability is well known and thus of lesser risk for ongoing product operation and reliability but can generate significant service and cost implications when “last-time-buy” notifications are received from supply source. I have often discovered LTB notifications on parts before ever a product launch has been achieved.

b) Selection of a particular part may provide that unique selling point (USP) for a particular product, those mega-pixel displays with all the colors of the rainbow, that have a fierce passion of support within the design community yet as supply chain professionals we are mandated to engage with the design authority, to ensure their understanding of the challenge, both in terms of supply and cost, we face in establishing a supply for these components. These USP components are an essential ingredient for the success of a product and cannot be replaced, we must engage in a supply strategy that prevents unavailability of these parts.

The ultimate challenge with the design team is to collaborate and implement creative solutions that enable effective and life-cycle lasting solutions that support best-in-class supply chain solutions. Items a) and b) above are just examples of areas critical for supply chain success, perhaps the creativity element is more in the hands of the design team, my role is to engage with the appropriate design teams and especially their leaders to effect change without them feeling that their product concept has been damaged.

Acting as a critical support system convincing them that effectiveness of supply is just as important as originality and excellence of product performance is at the core to drive fundamental change in Supply Change Effectiveness.