Many business-to-business buying decisions are influenced by the sales process experience and less influenced by price. Supply chain can be integral to creating a positive customer experience. Metrics such as on-time delivery and quality can have an impact on strategic relationships and repeat buys.
You need someone skilled to keep your supply chain moving
Having someone to proactively manage your supply chain, bringing together all the variables is now more than ever so critical to success – as we all know the devil is in the detail. The best supply chain managers I have met are resilient, intelligent, and articulate, can walk the narrow line between operations and strategy, are charismatic and engaging. They see the bigger picture, build credibility, and know how to engage executive management while getting buy in from sales and finance. They understand not everyone appreciates how a supply chain works. They break it down and make the complicated simple for their staff and other departments.
Successful supply chain managers:
- Create transparency and accountability, providing equal opportunity for everyone to have their say, and listen to and act on positive and negative feedback.
- Spend time (not just a ‘walk through’) with other departments to understand their reasons for why things are done a certain way, building rapport and technical understanding.
- Keep all stakeholders engaged and up to date.
- Stay across the key objectives of the whole business, negotiating the fine line between strategy and execution.
- Are analytical, and detail driven, however just as importantly, are relationship-focused and comfortable talking to the executive board or the manufacturing floor.
Supply chain must educate and manage expectations
The theme I often see across industries is a mismatch between internal departments – what each department’s vision of ‘what good looks like’. Sales often want to hold as much stock as they can to meet the customers’ demands. They believe ‘you can’t sell a product if you don’t have it’ or ‘I don’t know what I’m going to sell in four months’ time, just hold enough inventory so we won’t run out’. It’s up to supply chain managers to cut through these pre-conceptions. Supply chain wants to keep inventory levels to a minimum, understanding variations in supply chain flow cost money and time, they want to store only as many products as are needed to keep manufacturing and logistics costs low while being agile enough to fulfill orders on time.
It’s a balancing act
When things aren’t sold, supply chain often gets questioned as to why they are holding too much stock, sales seldom do. This is frequently combined with a direction from management to reduce costs (inventory holding) while maintaining a ‘what sales want, is what sales get’ type philosophy. In the meantime, supply chain is trying to implement forecasts to reduce inventory and overheads.
When all the above come together, costs can be reduced, sales met and customers happy. As a business owner or manager, encourage interdepartmental meetings, keep the communication flowing and transparent to reap the rewards.
Please feel free to reach out to discuss anything supply chain related.