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Stop Getting in Your Own Way - 3 Impediments to Supply Chain Success

Michael Wilson | Nov 8, 2017

Consider supply chain management the "B" in the ABC of your company’s business process, with A being your product and C the customer. How you conduct the “B-part” is what adds to ...

supply-chain-strategy.pngConsider supply chain management the "B" in the ABC of your company’s business process, with A being your product and C the customer. How you conduct the “B-part” is what adds to the overall success of your process.

At some point, and for a variety of reasons, we will all get in our own way of success. Sometimes we can quickly identify the issue and self-correct. Oftentimes, though, it takes someone else to point out the mistake. In this post, we will walk through three not-so-obvious ways that supply chain professionals can hinder their own success.

1. You Have The Right Technology But You’re Missing (Or Disregarding) Data Points 

Are you getting in your own way by discounting the relevance of strong analytics in your approach to supply chain strategy? If so, relying solely on experience and intuition without data analytics is the equivalent of throwing the baby out with the bathwater.

In this age of big data, the supply chain manager who embraces data-driven decisions can spot trends before they become problems and detect problems while there is still time to react.

2. You’re Not Learning From Past Mistakes

As the supply chain manager for your organization, you need to accept the responsibility for mistakes, but pass the buck on to management. Company managers (or the small business owner) need to know how past mistakes impede product delivery and reduce profits. For example, here are mistakes that can hinder your supply chain and detract from your bottom line:

  • Management is unaware of or is not convinced of the value data-driven decision making can offer
  • Employees aren’t being retrained after mishaps
  • Your organization promotes inter-departmental rivalries and silos of expertise

3. You’re Not “Training Your Relief”


Your “relief” is the person who will do your job after you retire. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, by 2020 the number of jobs will exceed the available staff by a ratio of 6 to 1. You can help alleviate that shortage and work relief training into your supply chain strategy by:

Overcoming the image gap - Millennials today look at supply chain management as a world of trucks and sheds. They need to know that supply chain management plays a strategic role in the economic performance of the business world. Get the word out that supply chain management is a valued and high-paying profession that can lead to a seat at the boardroom table.

Telling educators your story - Secondary and post-secondary business, economics, and geography courses need more emphasis on supply chain management. Many community colleges invite local business leaders to serve on their advisory committees. Ask for a copy of the business course syllabi and offer suggestions for curriculum changes that focus on supply chain management.

Defining the job - Your supply chain management function touches many parts of the business setting. Young people might interpret your role as both mystifying and complex. Your first challenge is to explain what the job entails and the type of skills you are seeking. Those skills involve the ability to communicate well, solve problems, use IT effectively, demonstrate leadership, show organizational skills, and apply a creative mind.

The Bottom Line

As the leader of your supply chain strategy, you face a wide range of obstacles. In this post we discussed three not-so-obvious impediments: focusing on data points and taking advantage of the analytics tools, learning from past mistakes, and recruiting your replacement.

Focus on the foregoing to place your supply chain at the center of a circular chain. The chain begins with supplier and ends with your customer. Everything in the center is how your strategy strengthens that chain---and your bottom line.

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