While there is a wealth of discussion on business efforts such as marketing, R&D and sales, ultimately a company is only as strong as its fulfillment center. In fact, without supply chain efficiency, the most clever ad campaigns, new and improved products or client rosters wouldn't be able to lift the bottom line.
If you're not an integral part of C-Suite conversations in your company already, it's time to claim your place at the table and start explaining what your team offers and what they need to offer it efficiently. Here's a few ways to work your way into the C-Suite:
You Need To Explain What You Do
Most businesses can't afford the high cost of compartmentalization in a business climate that so fiercely embraces connectivity. Shuffling off duties to a supply chain professional to "work their magic" on without end-to-end understanding on the part of the executive is damaging to workflow as a whole. It can also leave that professional at a sincere risk of being undervalued. It's called a supply chain for a reason: each link needs to be aware of the integrity (or lack thereof) in the links surrounding it, both inside and outside the company, and that can't happen without transparency.
If a fulfillment manager's "quick fix" is going to cost another department an opportunity, for example, everyone needs to be on the same page for risk assessment.
You Understand Cost and Efficiency Ratio Better Than Most
While planning expenditure is something of a conceptual tool at the executive level, in the supply chain it's used every day, in every box that travels through the warehouse.
According to Terry Harris of Inbound Logistics, this means that logistics pros are uniquely qualified to weigh in on cost-efficiency puzzles elsewhere in the company; their unique insight is interdisciplinary in terms of allocation ratios. Much like cross-training at a store level, using the ideas and concepts of fulfillment efficiency to solve problems elsewhere in the company is an excellent way to get your foot in the conference room door.
You Have a Real Time View of Inventory
Larry Fast of Industry Week explains that looking into inventory is an excellent way to build supply chain efficiency by shoring up gaps in fulfillment or bloating in stock. Inventory tells a lot of stories about a company — how fast a given product moves after a marketing push, or whether seasonal demand affects certain lines, for example. By affording you an opportunity to share your insights on inventory and stock movement, you'll be assisting a variety of other departments through your C-suite podium and helping them make more efficient allocations of time and money.
It's Smart for Liability's Sake
When a potentially scandal-inducing issue with materials or labor crops up, the supply chain is the first line of defense, Sara A. Greenstein of UL Supply Chain & Sustainability pointed out in a recent Industry Week article. A supply chain professional should, ideally, be able to isolate problems to suppliers, transportation or storage mediums as soon as a red flag is raised, saving the company valuable time and potential loss. When supply chain professionals are routinely made a part of C-suite conversations, they'll already have the platform they need to report to executives and enact change as quickly as possible.
Supply chain efficiency isn't fostered and implemented entirely from the warehouse floor, which means the reverse also needs to be true: you need to feel empowered to discuss concerns and ideas with supply chain executives and professional decisions makers.
By involving the efforts of your department in the planning discussions and state of the company meetings in the C-suite, you'll be giving your team the best chance at fair budget allocation and realistic resource provisions — both now and in the future.