Happy New Year… Wow! 2017 was certainly an interesting year in the global supply chain. From superstorms to data breaches to geopolitical changes to economics, supply chain managers from all industries have gone through a head-spinning year. And guess what? It doesn't look like things will get much easier in 2018!
However, as you toast 2018 with the liquid of your choice, consider these ‘resolutions’ that may just make 2018 a bit more manageable.
Stay current. There are many ways to get news these days. To some, the news cycle is so depressing that they have tuned it out. That is short sighted. Almost every story has a potential impact on your supply chain or your business. Don’t overreact, but create a filter that will capture pertinent data points or issues that will impact someone or something in your extended supply chain.
Don’t overcomplicate the technology. I recently taught a one-day seminar on project management skills for supply chain professionals. It was about the fundamentals of project management and not the software tools. In fact, there was a pushback on what many considered poorly performing ‘personal productivity enhancements.’ While everyone in the class had a laptop and a smartphone, they also had pads of paper and pens next to them for notes. In those 12 people I saw the future: a balance!
Know your customer and market. If I have seen any one positive impact on the supply chain management profession in the past five years, it is a greater understanding of the customer facing side of your business. Only when you understand customer needs can you create a supply chain strategy that meets the needs of your company and properly supports your suppliers.
Get back out on the road. I spent many years on the road qualifying, auditing, and negotiating with suppliers. These visits showed that my company was serious about supplier qualification and performance. I hear from far too many supply chain professionals that their companies will not let them visit suppliers. There is nothing better than face-to-face meetings with suppliers and seeing how your products are built, serviced and fulfilled. The personal approach still works. Safe travels.
Dig into the tiers. Identify critical tier two and tier three suppliers in your supply chain and include them in your supplier communication and visits. Ask your tier one suppliers to identify their critical suppliers and to identify potential risk. Keep track of that risk. The ‘no new is good news’ approach is not an effective supply chain strategy.
Expand your definition of supply chain risk. These days we may yearn for supply chain risk be like the old days, a snowstorm, an outbreak of the flu, or a strike. While each of those may have had an impact, the issues were quickly settled. Add today’s issues of political unrest, data breaches, terrorism, and even issues like human slavery in the supply chain equation, and the risk profile increases dramatically.
Be kind. The two most important words in business are “please” and “thanks.” You’d be surprised about how well they work. Resolve to use them more in 2018.
May you have a safe and peaceful 2018.