It is not an exaggeration to say that your company lives and dies by its supply chain. Even a minor disruption can lead to huge costs, delays, setbacks, and obstacles. And if something significant were to malfunction within the supply chain, it may be impossible for you to recover.
As a result, companies do and should spend a lot of time focused on the successes and failures of a supply chain. But in the focus on facts and figures, the big questions often get overlooked. Specifically, companies focus on fine tuning the individual parts while ignoring whether managers, monitors, and decision makers running the supply chain are effective in their roles.
Self-scrutiny is never easy, but it is essential for anyone who is dependent on a supply chain to take a hard look at how positively or negatively it is managed. Here are some questions to start asking:
Do You Struggle with the Details?
Managing a supply chain is all about the details. And while there has never been a system that handles all the details perfectly, the best supply chains have found ways to ensure that certain targets and benchmarks are met without fail. If your supply chain seems to always fall short, finish late, or come in over budget, you have common problems without an effective solution. A supply chain that cannot achieve a consistent level of performance has ineffective managers at the helm.
Is there a Lack of Transparency?
Uncertainty is the enemy of the supply chain. In many cases, it is better to have bad news than to have no news at all. But as supply chains have become incredibly complex and global in scale, maintaining perspective over the whole process is a major hurdle. Most managers have implemented systems like supply chain ERPs in order to get oversight of the details. Those that haven’t rely on instincts and assumptions instead. Any supply chain that is willing to accept unknowns is under questionable management.
Are You Ready for the Future?
The technologies and changes that have so drastically affected supply chains over the last 20 years are only beginning to have an impact. In both positive and negative ways, we can expect the supply chains of the near future to look drastically different than the ones we use now. Proactive managers are preparing for this shift by embracing technologies, experimenting with new approaches, and constantly holding the supply chain up to scrutiny. The managers who are not preparing for, or even actively resisting new changes are simply sowing the seeds for future failures.
Does Your Supply Chain Lag Behind?
For too long the supply chain was seen as the last part of a business transaction. Members of the sales, finance, marketing, and accounting departments actually did the work of a business, and the supply chain simply fulfilled the orders. That approach may have once been effective, even justified, but it is inadequate for today’s business environment. A supply chain that lags behind the rest of the enterprise lacks the agility and speed to keep up with new projects and priorities. Companies of all sizes and industries, are searching for ways to remain competitive. A supply chain that is not able to adapt has been under-served by complacent managers.
If your supply chain is mismanaged, the staff themselves certainly require scrutiny. But be sure to consider both the people in the roles and the tools at their disposal. Effectively managing a supply chain takes a lot more than just initiative and intelligence. It takes technologies that can make something as unruly as a supply chain controllable and comprehensible. Don’t expect supply chain managers to be effective without the right tools at their disposal.