Putting together a supply chain strategy is something that growing businesses—or ones striving for change—need to worry about, right? Not exactly. Much like a successful product can be reverse-engineered to find new places for improvement and innovation, the supply chain strategy you might not even know you're using can point to compatible opportunities to take advantage of.
Take the test below to figure out which path to success you're currently on.
Which statement best reflects your company's stance on stock?
A.) Our competitive edge rests more on pricing and order fulfillment accuracy than product innovation.
B.) High spikes of demand over a short period followed by drop-off and turnover.
C.) Stock is consistent due to repeat customers and predictable periodic ordering.
D.) Demand for our core products can change rapidly depending on market factors.
E.) A lot of our effort is devoted to customizing end products for end consumers.
F.) We expect natural lulls in our sales cycle and plan our stock accordingly.
Which statement best reflects your company's stance on the competition?
A.) We watch their moves closely and need to fight for every foothold.
B.) It's important that we refresh our product portfolio faster and more frequently than they do.
C.) We aren't overly concerned with them; our customers are established and unlikely to stray.
D.) Our focus is on meeting sudden demands faster and more accurately than they do.
E.) We study the custom options they offer to the end consumer and try to surpass them.
F.) We aren't afraid to collaborate in order to stay viable and responsive within our industry.
Which statement best describes your company as a whole?
A.) Very few resources, if any, are wasted. We're able to hold our own amidst intense competition in our industry.
B.) When the market changes, so do we. We pride ourselves in giving the customer high-demand items with little hassle.
C.) Our clientele never has to worry where their items are or if we have them in stock: we're consistent in our supply chain strategy.
D.) We're ready for anything, and all the components that we can stage ahead of time are waiting in the wings.
E.) Our ultimate goal is to give our customers a product that matches their individual needs as closely as possible.
F.) We acknowledge that production and fulfillment can vary wildly depending on our industry, and we're prepped to weather the lean times.
Where would you say your company's pain points are concentrated?
A.) Outpacing our competition and staying one step ahead.
B.) Getting the most play out of a new product before the market loses interest.
C.) Improving our customer experience, even though our product offering doesn't change substantially.
D.) Determining the right type and volume of various components to keep on hand.
E.) Balancing end consumer option variety with intracompany logistics to maximize profit potential.
F.) Ensuring minimal resource issues during downtime without sacrificing preparedness.
Answers for this short quiz were derived from Hernán David Pere's in-depth report on Supply Chain Strategy for Supply Chain Quarterly.
Mostly As: You lean towards an Efficient supply chain setup. Tips for maximizing your approach include investing in low-maintenance, high-production machinery and devoting resources to upkeep once its installed. Supply chain managers should focus on obtaining and utilizing accurate forecasting data to continue cutting down on waste and over/understocking issues.
Mostly Bs: Your company is geared towards a Fast supply chain model. With speed positioned as your most competitive characteristic, it's important to build and maintain excellent, transparent relationships with your suppliers to set up firm decoupling points for runs. Managers should work closely with buyers and trendspotters within the company to ensure fulfillment matches reasonable expectations.
Mostly Cs: Your supply chain strategy falls under the Continuous Flow model. Your orders come from the same basic pool of buyers on a regular basis, so you'll need to focus on affirming those relationships to prevent straying. For larger accounts, managers should be encouraged to work directly with a client company representative to ensure maximum fulfillment accuracy and forecasting.
Mostly Ds: Positioned in a fluctuating industry, your company looks towards Agile planning for your supply chain. Instruct your management to either find suppliers willing to work in small, quickly-delivered batches or work with existing supply chain nodes to set them up. Focus on comfortably stocking excess components and end products without causing detriment to your working capital.
Mostly Es: As a Custom-Configured supply chain modeled company, your managers should work with R&D and customer experience experts to determine likely order scenarios. They should also refer to previous order data, even for obsolete product configurations, to forecast which path demand may take when new products hit the market.
Mostly Fs: Like most businesses in hot-and-cold industries, your company's Flexible supply chain model works hard to keep operations and expenditure on an even keel. Your managers shouldn't be afraid to work with peers—even competition—to discuss partnerships, joint ordering, storage and more to keep costs down and possibilities open.