How much control do you really have over your supply chain? When problems arise, do you roll up your sleeves to find a solution, or do you defer exclusively to vendors to handle problems that, while they may not be "yours," still impact your logistics? Supply chain strategy is a lot like technology. There's really no option for "set it and forget it" anymore. The battlefield of business has gotten too competitive, customer expectations have gotten too high, and stakeholders have demanded too much growth for supply chain managers to rest on their laurels. Should strategy be any different than operational innovation? Here's three reasons why you need DIY spirit in your warehouse:
Traditional Educational Programs Are Falling Short, But...
Training is the major hurdle that all new hires need to clear, but while they're navigating the foibles of your particular company and supply chain, the rest of the logistics team is impatiently waiting for an infusion of fresh talent. While university programs do an excellent job of conveying logistics theory, graduates often find themselves out of their element when their shoes actually hit the warehouse floor. To help ease the transition, some larger companies are taking matters into their own hands and developing university-alternative classes for new hires, enabling them to step into their position with confidence from day one. The automotive logistics industry has had such notable success with this approach that logistics managers in other industries are eagerly following suit.
The "Bad Guys" Don't Follow a Script
The problem with systematic technology safeguards is just that—they're systematic and, therefore, prone to easy deciphering, once a malicious user slips through a safeguard or two. As hackers grow more sophisticated and continue to target weak points in third party services to strike large corporations, those corporations are getting clever. Collaborative efforts with supply chain vendors shore up these potential loopholes, closing them and posting digital breach alerts so that problems are discovered long before they spread beyond containment. Drew Smith, of Supply Chain Quarterly, emphasizes the importance of data exchange audits between a company and its vendors as well. Anything—financial information to basic sales data—is a potential target for hackers as it moves between nodes. That makes the "shield wall" of unified vendor-company collaboration a unique and successful tool in combating cyberattacks.
Logistics and Accounting: Unlikely Partners
Resource management is a company-wide goal, if a broad enough view is taken. With an increased focus on transparency in strategy and implementation, supply chain managers can't afford to turn a blind eye to the financial impact of their decisions. The "DIY approach" to financial understanding requires that supply chain managers take an active, vested interest in determining how each decision they make affects a company's overall bottom line. If you don't currently know how your departmental record-keeping translates into financial data points once it moves out of the warehouse, it's time to remedy that. Like many positions within a company, cross-training—especially if it's self-motivated—j is a move that's good for both your company and your longevity in your position. Supply Chain Quarterly's Jarrod Goentzel and James B. Rice Jr. note that knowing this "financial language" will also help managers better advocate for their department in C-suite meetings.
Your supply chain strategy needs to go off-book to incorporate the flexibility it needs, and sometimes that will mean stepping outside of your comfort zone and working with vendors and employees outside of your direct purview. Those tentative steps will ultimately pay off, however—you'll be glad you took them when you survey a well-trained staff, strong cybersecurity track records and easy conversations about the future in the C-suite.