Protecting Your Supply Chain

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Protecting Your Supply Chain

The Business School UK’s Business Development Director, David Ockleton talks about Protecting Your Supply Chain

Protecting your supply chain is important. Failure to maintain a resilient supply chain, at best results in inefficiency and at worst, the failure of the organisation. Reliable delivery of products to customers is key to many organisations’ existence, which requires reliable, robust, efficient, and scalable logistic information systems and processes, combined with effective links with trading partners. Even the most impressive supply chains are under constant threat of disruption through a multitude of possibilities. Most people would immediately identify major fires, extreme weather, political instability, war, etcetera, as the likely causes of failure. The fact is most disruption is the result of day-to-day issues, such as late deliveries, quality control issues, or even an upsurge in demand perhaps due to changes in fashion.

The resilient supply chain is flexible enough to cope with changes of supply or demand. This requires agility or responsiveness to changes. It also requires visibility and mutual confidence with trading partners, extending to visibility of each others manufacturing processes and supply chains through the development of partnerships.   Mutual collaboration requires a well-developed series of linkages, working throughout each of the partner organisations, going beyond informal bilateral links between each of the respective departments, such as procurement, manufacturing, logistics, etcetera. Failure to embrace collaboration fully leads to a fractured supply chain, an inability to respond to rapid changes and prone to breakage.

The resilient supply chain requires a shared vision of the ‘big picture’, each organisation not only recognising the value of extensive collaboration, but also enacting it throughout their structures in a holistic manner. Most organisations attempt to achieve this nirvana, but of these most fall short of the requirement.

Whilst achievement of this goal is far from easy to achieve, this is not an argument for not attempting. Fortunately, there are a number of key ‘health check’ questions that can be used to create a picture of an organisation’s resilience:

  1. How are we working with our suppliers? (Are we sharing forecast information, how often are we collaborating, how early are we sharing issues?)
  2. Do we have true visibility of the complete production process? (End-to-End?)
  3. Do we have true visibility of shipments? (What level of confidence do we have with the Required Delivery Dates, quantities, quality, shipment location en route in real time?)
  4. Do we have visibility of the vendor-managed inventory, components, or sub assemblies supplied through sub-contractors?
  5. How are we managing order placement? (Do we assist our suppliers with steady orders, do we amend POs?)
  6. How do we handle financial transactions? (Are they part of an automated process, or is the human still a key part of the loop with telephone calls, emails, etc?)
  7. What is the financial health of our suppliers?

Whilst the questions are on the face of it fairly obvious, addressing them is more complex, and requires a significant investment in time and effort. They also form an iterative process of continued update, hopefully showing steady improvement, but importantly also highlighting potential weaknesses emerging.

BSUK Courses

If you’d like to know more about what we offer for Logistics and Transport courses, take a look at our page here: Logistics and Transport Courses. All our courses are approved by the CILT and are currently available for Level 2, Level 3 (Regular and Reservists) and Level 5 (Regular and Reservists). These courses are tailored for the RLC, with more courses coming soon.

Free Guide

Print off our Protecting Your Supply Chain Essentials PDF, created for you in A4 format. With one half for your own notes and the other as shown below, you can fold in half to create a handy guide.

BSUK Protecting Your Supply Chain Essentials Printable.pdf

BSUK Protecting Your Supply Chain

Over To You

What is your most important aspect of protecting your supply chain? We’d love you to share by leaving a comment in the comments section below. We will be back soon with more inspiring insights and we hope you will be too! If you have enjoyed our article on Protecting Your Supply Chain we would appreciate you sharing. David Ockleton, The Business School UK’s Business Development Director.