There are many lessons to be learned when the supply chain gets disrupted and people try to correct mistakes that were made and adjust so they do not happen again. However, a much more effective approach would be to take a step back and be proactive about solutions and put contingencies in place before problems occur. The supply chain is an organism that is constantly changing and that requires continuous supervision and review in order to stay ahead of changes and challenges.
But how can you gain some insight into the inner workings of the supply chain if you cannot see the future and prepare for problems before they happen? What if you are a small retailer and simply do not have the resources to prepare for every single eventuality?
The answer to these questions lies in the ability of learning from the mistakes of others and adapting their experiences to something more fitting to be used in our particular environment. Not every company out there can afford to make mistakes that can cost millions of dollars, and that is why it becomes absolutely necessary to borrow knowledge from the mistakes other make.
A primer example of this is what happened to Target Canada in early 2013. Right from the beginning, the company had to deal with many setbacks, and the supply chain broke down eventually. Even an asset as crucial and important as technology seems to have worked against them at some point, and that is why it is so important for everyone to be on board and understand that without control, collaboration, visibility and flexibility to adapt to new situations, it is almost impossible to survive these situations.
One of the biggest lessons learned from successful companies is that to make sure than the customer always comes before the notions of cutting costs to make things more profitable. Customers will always be drawn to a product that is great and if you invest the necessary resources to create an outstanding product, then clients will follow suit. Providing value can be a great strategy to acquire customers and when your supply chain is aligned with this philosophy, then great things will come along.
Setting ambitious goals should not be a deterrent for your business to thrive. Companies sometimes fall into complacency when they have things figured out, and then they grow stale and are inevitably phased out eventually by bolder organizations that are not afraid to push the envelope.
A successful supply chain can sometimes be the result of careful prioritization. Streamlining processes and focusing on the things that make you successful are a great way of making your supply chain leaner. There is an interesting movie in Netflix called Founder that talks about McDonald’s and how it all started from an idea two brothers had that eventually grew to be one of the most successful food franchises in the world. At the beginning they were doing the same thing all other companies did when it came to selling fast food. They catered to what the people wanted and offered a menu and an experience no different from their competitors. It was when they decided to focus on their biggest sellers that they were able to make a difference by offering a better product in a better way. Removing excess fluff and spending your energy in doing what you do best, are great ways to control a easier to manage supply chain and truly exploit your business’ potential.
This goes right along with simplifying processes as well as products themselves. Some parts and components may not perform any functions but be there to take up space. Simplicity leads reduction of parts and thus making processes faster and more efficient.
The iPod was a very successful item made by Apple, and its success came from the fact that it could do something that other devices were already doing, but in a much better way. For the first time, people could walk around with their entire music collection in their pocket like it was nothing. However, Steve Jobs at the time saw that there was the possibility for other manufacturers to go ahead and integrate things even further by putting music players into cellphones. From that idea the iPhone was born and the iPod was discontinued. A decision like this takes a great insight and a mind that is able to see beyond the possibilities and not be afraid of bringing forth radical changes to the status quo. Today the iPhone is one of the most important electronic devices in the world; it is extremely popular and has made Apple famous for having such an efficient supply chain.
If you want to read more articles about different aspects of the supply chain and the application of many disciplines used to approach logistics, then check out our other entries at David Kiger’s Blog.
* Featured Image courtesy of Magda P at Flickr.com