I am starting a blog series called “Supply Chain Leadership”, where I hope to pose thought provoking, and forward looking questions to executives in my supply chain network. Posted monthly, this series will provide insights into the most pressing challenges, innovative items in their budgets, and how these executives have handled talent, complexity, end-to-end S&OP, and technology.
Continuing the Supply Chain Leadership series, I caught up with an executive in the consumer electronics business. His deep manufacturing, planning and technology background led him to one of the top consumer electronics companies in the world. His insights on the challenges and future of supply chain are incredibly thought provoking.
1. As we enter 2014, how would you describe the most pressing supply chain challenges?
a. Expanded product portfolios and product options are challenging our ability to maintain accurate forecasts.
b. Growth in new markets has presented us with challenges in understanding customer response to new products.
c. Material leadtimes have remained in an “extended horizon” status are affecting our ability to respond to demand variation.
d. International markets are growing as a proportion of overall sales, which is driving inventory growth.
2. Looking back at the past few years, what parts of supply chain have improved and what have you seen as the contributing factors for that improvement?
a. The company’s Sales and Operations Process has matured and is now providing consistent insight into Supply Chain challenges (mentioned in Q1), while creating visibility to risks and opportunities in the supply and demand balancing process.
b. The implementation of an enterprise system has enabled us to scale our planning and execution processes to keep up with significant growth and complexity of our product portfolio.
c. Reporting tools have been improved dramatically, driven by in memory based storage and on line (interactive) query capability.
d. Redesigned Supply Chain networks have enabled the company to ship more products direct from the source to the customer with a significant reduction in “hand offs” and material handling (waste).
e. Global Supply Chain operational personnel have matured in experience and skill due to corporate initiated training including; face to face, centralized class rooms, and on line classes.