As we march down the Supply Chain path in 2021, it is easy to see how it differs from Supply Chain 2019. Many love to use the term “new normal” these days, a term I dislike because it takes away from problem-solving and the lessons Supply Chain Management has taught us through the years.
Thanks to recent events, platforms like “Zoom” have flourished, giving rise to predictions that the days of business travel and “in-person” human interaction are now no longer critical. Nothing can be further from the truth. More than ever, contact is crucial to the protection of your supply chain. Product manufacturing has entered an unstable phase where tier 2’s and tier 3’s often contribute to an unreliable source of the raw products’ supply necessary to support larger projects. This situation has been made more complicated through the recent spike in the cost of logistics.
This condition, temporary or not, puts the spotlight on Supply Chain Program Management to employ the principles they’ve been taught to keep critical projects on track. We know that this cannot be achieved with your feet under a desk. Many supply chain professionals get caught in the trap of complacency, including myself. One of my first projects as a fledgling Supply Chain Program Manager almost ended in disaster because I didn’t “go and see” what I had committed to and assumed that what I was being told was the truth.
When we look at the “in-person” contact necessary to keep projects moving, especially during unstable times, we must look at it as an investment rather than an expense.
Skilled Supply Chain Programs people with experience can rapidly spot problems on the manufacturers’ floors that they never would on a conference call, thus allowing for real-time problem-solving. On the floor, these professionals can analyze a supplier’s cycle time, assess bottlenecks, then make comparisons against their own companies’ scheduled build rates, thus identifying potential problems for deliveries long before they occur. Doing so addresses the supplier who is over-promising and under-delivering. There is simply no substitute for human contact and relationship building.
In the end, as always, you get out of things that you put into them. You may very well struggle seeking opportunities to cut costs during difficult times but understanding the value of the most effective Supply Chain Management practices will pay back many times over.