Ever been in a situation where you are faced by an issue or an obstacle at work and realise that you have one hand tied because the solution lies with one supplier?
This is one scenario where you are faced with an issue. What about other scenarios where you are just working on a project and feel that you are not entirely calibrated with your supplier? What about a scenario where you decide to spend that one tiny extra bit to proactively calibrate with your supply chain?
This post is about that last scenario: what you can do to ensure that you are levelling up your supply chain to better work collaboratively and towards sustained success.
Here is a simple three steps model you can consider if you are going to the start this journey. The model I am sharing is aimed to give you the foundation for the long term work you intend to achieve. Consider this model as your brain-map. Once this map is clear, then you can dive deep into various methods to achieve and formalise each of the steps. The model is:
- Set your end game
- Build synergies
- Measure success
1. Setting the end game
For any team, project, or organisation looking to level up its supply chain, it is essential to focus on the end game. What is this calibration aimed to achieve. Getting this clear and simple will help inform the strategy you choose. Here are some examples of the end game:
- Resolve a constantly failing process
- Reduce sub-par delivered outcome
- Provide that extra mile of assurance that will increase your supplier’s business system trust in the market
- Enhance what already works
- Calibrate communication because of change in personnel
Each aim will have a strategy of calibration slightly different. For instance, if you are aiming to calibration communications because of change in personnel, then hosting some team building activities might work. Whereas if your aim is to resolve a constantly failing process, then a root cause analysis session using well known techniques might help them focus on corrective measures.
Whichever strategy you choose, you need to make sure that the end game is clear to all parties involved. More importantly, you need to ensure that your assessment to the situation is actually a reality that all parties see and agree to.
2. Building synergies
How do you build synergies? It does not need to be a complex nor a complicated approach. All you need to do is create an environment which enables a 2 way dialogue, a non-judgmental, non-blame environment where all parties can bring forward their own working norms. After all company culture differs from one organisation to the next (even if both organisations share the same values).
So how can you champion such an environment? There is a lot that can be done to create synergies between 2 teams, 2 companies working towards the same goal. It is important you emphasises the message of one team, one goal to everyone involved. Get your analysis ready in advance so you have the background information on why there was no synergy in the first place. This will help you articulate the message better. Once the message is clear, you can then arrange for any (or all of the below options)
- Team building activities
- Project Management workshops
- Process improvement brain storming sessions
- Knowledge sharing exercises to surface success stories and pain points
- Develop an RACI chart with the teams
3. Measuring success
‘What does not get measured, does not get managed’ is one of the first valuable lessons my manager taught me many moons ago. That is where my relationship with data started. I realised that to bring a fact based approach to any project, any team, or any supply chain, you must have clear factual data as the foundation. Understanding what the project or task at hand will help you identify what data you need to look at. I will share below a list of items to consider. It is not an exhaustive list, but hopefully will trigger some ideas
- The duration it takes to complete a task
- The duration it takes to resolve an issue
- The end-to-end process time from receiving a requirement into deploying the outcome
- The cost it takes to complete a task
- The total number of issues raised in a period
- The total number of resolutions provided
- The different types of resolutions
- Which department (or process owner) had the most issues
- Which department (or process owner) had the most resolutions
- What types of issues were registered
In conclusion, levelling up your supply chain is an important aspect of any business strategy. As a Quality and Project professional, there is a lot of added value we can offer businesses. Always think of the end game you wish to achieve, build synergies that would allow a collaborative and focused environment, and start measuring what matters.
Check out these articles that present ideas on how you can improve your supple chain:
- An article by Courtenay Stevens on Business.Org: https://www.business.org/finance/inventory-management/ways-to-increase-supply-chain-performance/
- An article by Kristina Lopienski on Shipbob: https://www.shipbob.com/blog/supply-chain-efficiency/
Are you leading or part of team responsible to improve the supply chain for a project or business? If so, please get in touch with your thoughts and knowledge with a comment below.
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