Your supply chain is only as strong as your weakest link so you must develop your employees and find ways for them to work together more effectively.

At APICS Inland Empire’s recent executive panel and networking symposium on “Navigating the Global Supply Chain”, we had some intriguing discussions on the hot topics in global supply chains. Wouldn’t you know, even with a complex, technical topic like this one, people are #1!

Start with your employees. As I said while leading a webinar on “Onshoring Profits” earlier today, I’ve never seen “happy customers” with “unhappy employees”. Have you? Thus, clearly starting there is cornerstone in navigating the supply chain.

However, this step is not enough. We must expand to collaborating with your supply chain partners. Your supply chain is only as strong as your weakest link. Thus, it is worthwhile to collaborate, share information and find ways to elevate your supply chain. Again, this starts with people. Do they know how to talk with one another? Do they understand cultural norms? How about language barriers? Or, let’s start simple – do we pick up the phone? I hope so!

The key to success of any person, department, company or extended supply chain goes back to people. For example, the best ideas die if not communicated effectively. The best suppliers will not work with people unwilling to think win-win and collaborate for success. Customers will not think about what would help your success if you don’t tell them about your business objectives – and ask how you can help them achieve theirs. Your transportation partners might not prioritize your shipment when natural disasters occur. Is your 3PL in sync with you? They are an interface with your customer. Remember, no matter the topic, consider people your #1 asset.