The Keys to a More Responsive Supply Chain

Efficiency is well and good, but without responsiveness, your supply chain is vulnerable to disaster


These tools can provide a digital platform to:

  • Easily share plans, schedules and product information.
  • Track supplier commitments and product manufacturing status.
  • Monitor real-time product flow through each step of the supply chain.
  • Identify and act on exceptions.

Additionally, it’s important to remember to have well-defined organizational roles and responsibilities, and an agreed upon set of performance measurements for communicating across the network. From experience, having the right people can make all the difference. Having the professional skill set, as well as the ability to quickly assess a situation, develop a plan of action, and then communicate and execute that plan across the supply chain, is critical to meeting ever-changing market demands, and therefore, achieving overall customer satisfaction.

 

Efficiency and Responsiveness Are a Balancing Act

Trade-offs must sometimes be made between efficiency and responsiveness, but that does not necessarily mean efficiency must be sacrificed to responsiveness or vice versa. It’s really about a company finding the right, unique balance. This balance can be determined by factors like what markets the company is looking to source from and ship to, what industry it is in, whether the product is nascent or mature, and whether the product is functional and/or innovative. Take purely functional goods vs. purely innovative goods for an example. Product lifecycles and demand cycles are drastically different for functional and innovative products. Functional products, such as an outdoor grill, often withstand a longer lifecycle and have a predictable demand cycle, so greater efficiency is required.

Innovative products, like a new tablet or smartphone, tend to have very short lifecycles due to the speed of innovation and uncertain demand; therefore, greater responsiveness is needed. However, this situation becomes more complicated when dealing with a functional product, such as milk, that has a short shelf life and needs to be delivered to consumers quickly. Therefore, using market knowledge to forecast demand to the best of a company’s ability and designing a supply chain to be a flexible one-to-one model is crucial to this balancing act.

While overhauling a supply chain model to be more adept at responding to change may seem daunting, the benefits of doing so are impactful—both in the short and long term. Lowering operational costs, reducing risk, scaling for growth to pursue new business opportunities and achieving higher rates of customer satisfaction can all be achieved through a more responsive supply chain. And, much like responsive car care, you’re ensuring the smoothest ride possible.

 

Doug Pasquale, senior vice president of the logistics division at Ingram Micro Mobility North America, is an expert in the wireless supply chain logistics industry. He has 13 years of experience in executive leadership roles overseeing the product management, go-to-market strategy and strategic partnerships formerly for BrightPoint and now at Ingram Micro Mobility. He joined Ingram Micro Mobility during the acquisition of BrightPoint in early 2013 as the executive vice president of the logistics division.

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