Avoiding the Hurdles

Because of their industry, many supply chain professionals have to deal with government regulatory agencies. It’s just one more hurdle in the complex road that gets products from here to there.

During lunch at a recent show, a high-ranking executive of a medical equipment manufacturer told me an interesting story. It seems his company had created a new diagnostic product. Step by step, the company followed Food & Drug Administration (FDA) guidelines, ensuring each requirement was met or exceeded.

When satisfied, they submitted the item to the FDA for approval. It was rejected. Why? Well, he was told that the agency was working on some new guidelines for this type of product. OK, when will those be ready? It’s been three years and still no answer—and of course, no product on the market.

This sort of thing, while frustrating, has many implications. First, it stifles creativity. Why think outside the box or try to make your product line more beneficial to people when you’re blocked despite your best efforts? And, in a purely business sense, how can you make a profit?

Second, the equipment manufacturer told me, startups are discouraged because of all the bureaucratic red tape. Even if the FDA (or other agency) is legitimately being careful and conservative, many entrepreneurs with great ideas don’t want to take the expensive steps of product development, testing and perfecting when they know they’ll hit that regulatory wall. It’s a problem.

Of course, every industry has its own supply chain problems. The solutions, when found, are generally satisfying and profitable. It takes forward thinking, flexibility and originality to surmount issues. They can be regulatory, risk management, procurement, logistics, contract management or numerous others.

That brings us to this issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive, our eagerly awaited SDCE100. Turn to page eight to see ‘100 Great Supply Chain Projects’ that provided implementations and solutions that improved bottom lines and increased business values. Since—as the tagline on our cover says—we’re in the business of providing solutions-based intelligence for supply chain ROI, there’s a good chance you can apply a form of one of these solutions to your business. Or, if you’re an enabler, something here will help you heal a client’s business pain. If so, maybe we’ll see you in this section in 2013.

In my last Executive Memo I introduced you to our Editorial Advisory Board. This month, I’d like to present the newest addition to the SDCExec team: Associate Editor Natalia Kosk. Many of you already have (digitally) met Natalia in her role—one of many—as gatekeeper of our Website, keeping it furnished with the latest news. She’s also responsible for the production end of the print issue, does considerable writing and, while rapidly learning the industry, is always suggesting ways to make the magazine better. If you haven’t already met her, please do so at nkosk@sdcexec.com.

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