If there is one area that changes on a seemingly daily basis, it is your end-to-end supply chain. World events change your supply chain. Natural disasters impact your supply chain. Security concerns dictate your supply chain. Customers changing expectations drive supply chain change. How do we keep up with it all?
As opposed to talking about the latest supply chain trends, I thought it might be valuable to think about ways to keep up with supply chain changes which could be critical to your success:
- Pay attention: Look at your trends. What is changing? Are customers ordering smaller packages? More interested in packaging? What is happening?
- Ask your employees: I guarantee that you’ll be amazed at the valuable information your employees have tucked away in their minds. Ask them what they see. Ask them what they are having to do more of lately – and why. If you don’t ask, you won’t receive!
- Ask your customers: Pick up the phone or get in the car/ plane and go find out what is changing for your customers. It doesn’t have to relate directly to you at this time. What challenges are they facing? Can you help? What do they see coming down the road? Again, ask and you shall receive.
- Ask your suppliers: Similarly to your customers, your suppliers have a wealth of knowledge about the industry, your organization (probably a different view than yours) and your competitors. Ask them what they see. Ask them what you can do to make it easier for them to do business with you.
- Go to your trade and industry groups: One of our goals at APICS-IE is to discuss the latest trends and help companies gain the skills and tools needed to succeed. We are more than happy to share our knowledge, and we have members across almost every industry, company size etc. We are not alone. What trade associations, industry groups and alumni groups can provide ideas of what is critical in the supply chain?
- Read: You’ll pick up on what is important by reading the Wall Street Journal, your local newspaper and trade journals. Stay up-to-speed and share your knowledge.