New Year’s Resolutions every Supply Chain Executive should make

Posted by Barloworld Logisitics on 11 Jan 2018 9:00:00 AM

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As we return to our desks after the festive season, many of us have a list of resolutions made in a flurry of celebration on New Year’s Eve. Ranging from financial goals to fitness or relationship aspirations, we make ourselves promises of how we plan to better ourselves during the coming 12 months. While much as been written about how resolutions fail, reflection and goal setting is important, be it in one's personal life, or indeed in the realm of work.  As the January picks up speed, here are six goals every Supply Chain Executive should put on their to-do-list in 2018.

  1.  Ask yourself what the risks are, more often- increasing complex supply chains, combined with volatile market conditions and constant business disruption have created a world where supply chain risk is a given. In this environment, the ability to critically analyse weak points and threats within a supply chain, and then implement strategies to mitigate such, will become a valuable advantage going forward. Complexity, by its very nature, has given rise to a plethora of compliance, regulations and quality assurance checks, to the point where it is necessary to re-evaluate every process to simplify interactions so that organisations can compete with more agility in a complex world. Taking the time to test one's value chain and identify possible risk can go a long way in not only preparing for such but can create opportunities to simplify processes that may have become disorderly along the way.

  1.   Stop talking about getting visibility, instead think about what you are doing with your information – In this day and age, the getting of data is easy. Your supply chain data may not be wrapped up in a single neat system, but accessing the information still isn’t difficult. The challenge is what you are doing with it once you have it. Many organisations are still receiving data reactively and using it as a tool with which to call suppliers into order. Reactive decision making is, however, becoming the downfall of organisations of the future. The power of visibility is not in the receipt of information after the fact, but in its ability to forecast, predict and foresee both risks and opportunities as they happen. The use of data to set planning priorities or build simulation models concurrently, in real time, is where the real power of visibility lies.
  1. Focus on the talent you have, not the shortages your think you have– a top concern for supply chain professionals is the lack/shortage of skill within the global industry. While this is indeed a reality, for most, the ability to fix this is beyond their control. Rather focus on growing, mentoring and increasing the productivity of those employees already within organisations. Many organisations spend a lot of time and effort sourcing and recruiting in a constant drive to fend off the skills shortage, sometimes to the detriment of their existing human capital base. As we move into an era characterised by increasing personalisation and automation, it would be wise to spend as much energy on enhancing the abilities of employees one already has to ensure that one’s core labour force is prepared for the future.

  1. Learn to speak the language of your CFO (and for that matter CIO)– Supply Chains of the future will be reliant on two things – technology and the financial resources to implement such. While the last few years have seen a growing recognition of the value of supply chain within the C-suite, professionals in the field need to be able to continually translate their challenges and opportunities into meaningful metrics for the rest of business. For most organisations, the costs incurred within the Supply Chain is somewhat of a grudge purchase, so the ability to report on its effectiveness in terms of ROI (return on Investment), cash flow, profitability and the like will move it away from constant cost-cutting pressure, to an investment necessity. Likewise, being able to collaborate closely with the IT department, and effectively lay out requirements for a CIO will go a long way on being able to digitise to improve efficiencies across the board.    

  1. View technology as a means to an end, not the end in itself- At its heart supply chain is rather simple. Place the right product, in front of the right consumer, at the right time and price point. Organisations would do well to critically analyse the fundamental drivers of value within their supply chain, and indeed their greater market before embarking on a digital revolution. Getting the basics of value creation right and overlaying these with relevant solutions, be they traditional or technology-heavy, is what ultimately separates the winners from the rest. Technology should be an enabler of value and not the driver of it. An in-depth analysis of what an organisation wants to achieve, together with identifying challenges intrinsic to these objectives, may bring to light various solutions, some of which may not be technology driven.

  1. Concern yourself more with business fit, than service provision– the concepts of shared value, collaboration and value chain are likely to become more important in the future. Within highly commoditised industries where the basic logistical services are mostly the same, finding a strategic fit within partnerships will become far more important. Business fit far exceeds traditional commercial arrangements and speaks to a more profound relationship between organisations, where aspects such as culture, future goals and strategic objectives become important points of consideration. It is no longer enough to find a supply chain partner that can merely deliver one's goods, more important that the partner shares a vision for the future to unlock growth opportunities where it matters.

2018 is likely to bring fresh challenges, disruptions and opportunities into every aspect of business, but the ability to remain focused, realistic and goal orientated will serve any Supply Chain well, both in the short and long term. Keep up to date throughought the new and subscribe to our insights:

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Topics: Trends and Insights