Supply Chain Issues Critical to Address in Today’s Volatile Global Environment

April 11, 2023

CLAREMONT, CA—Integrating supply chain technology, addressing supply chain talent scarcity, and unifying end-to-end port platforms are the biggest challenges for companies today, according to the Supply Chain Special Interest Group of The Society for the Advancement of Consulting® (SAC). Successful companies are adapting by prioritizing talent, technology, end-to-end collaboration, and processes to thrive in a rapidly changing global environment.

Get Ahead with SIOP

“Talent and technology are top of mind for every business in today’s volatile and uncertain world,” points out Lisa Anderson, president of Claremont, CA-based LMA Consulting Group, Inc. and manufacturing expert known as the Strongest Link in Your Supply Chain™ and author of SIOP (Sales Inventory Operations Planning): Creating Predictable Revenue and EBITDA Growth. “It’s important to keep costs down and plan ahead while navigating complexity. The best companies know they can’t bunker down and expect to succeed during these volatile and uncertain times. Instead, they’re making the most of their talent and technology to drive profitable growth.

“Our most successful clients are already rolling out a SIOP (also known as S&OP) process to forecast customer demand and determine the optimal strategy to meet that demand,” Anderson adds. “They’re investing in supply chain leaders, consulting support, and ERP system upgrades with related technologies to ensure their teams have the right resources for success. Instead of sitting back and letting the dust settle—or merely surviving—these executives and their teams think ahead, automate, digitize, and take advantage of the opportunities to thrive.”

Integrating Technology is NOT Just a Click of a Button

“When evaluating your systems and looking for opportunities to upgrade tools, start with your process,” says Diane L. Garcia of Lorraine Consulting, LLC, an expert in helping clients improve their unique business processes with over 15 years’ experience in operations and supply chain management. “Asking detailed process questions lets you determine if your process and your system support each other, and if they fit together in the best possible way to support your customer base.

“Your people are vital for success in integrating technology,” Garcia adds. “Explain the rationale of the technological solutions you are implementing, ask for ideas, and incorporate feedback. The more you involve your team and tailor your solutions to add value, the more ideas will emerge to better utilize systems in achieving business objectives.”

Big Questions Remain about Common Port Platforms

“A common technology platform is needed for the ports and goods movement industry to gain visibility and efficiencies across the logistics spectrum,” notes Elizabeth Warren, Global Logistics Specialist and CEO of Dialed-In Partners. “The Port of Los Angeles has had a platform for many years, and the Port of Long Beach is developing one. Yet there are still a number of issues, and no common platform to connect supply chain partners with the end customer.

“Many questions remain about developing a common platform, including who will manage it, who will finance it, and how security issues will be handled,” Warren explains. “Another issue is to figure out how to get companies that have invested in or developed their own proprietary platforms to tie-in to a common platform. To resolve these issues, talent and technology will need to meet in the middle and organizations must agree to collaborate.

Seamless Tech Integration Puts People First

“As an organization seeks to integrate innovative technology in the business, they must remember that people are the primary interface with the technology,” says Dr. Karen Wilson-Starks, President and CEO of TRANSLEADERSHIP, INC., and an executive leadership development expert based in Colorado Springs, CO. “For maximum effectiveness, the best companies evaluate whether the technology will reduce labor intensity and free up people for more strategic work.

“The most successful companies determine what initial and ongoing training programs people need to fully use and benefit from the technology, as well as what ongoing communication is essential for success,” Wilson-Starks notes. “The organization also has to account for necessary redundancies while eliminating unnecessary duplication. And, executives need to determine what outside resources, including consultants, will be required to ensure seamless implementation.”

Technology is Not a Magic Wand

“Digital transformation is the current buzzword for companies seeking answers to the question of how to manage the challenging economic times ahead, but technology is not a magic wand,” says David Ogilvie, CEO of David Ogilvie Consulting, a Brisbane, Australia-based business consulting firm that specializes in the supply chain and the ERP lifecycle.

“The two secret ingredients to technology project success, are people and culture,” he notes. “It‘s the quality of the people deployed onto a project that matters. In many circumstances, software vendors place a billable ‘Heartbeat in a Seat,’ rather than deploy a person who gives their client high-quality advice. It is incumbent upon executives to do the due diligence to ensure you have high-quality people on projects, rather than simply accept whomever the vendor provides. Those people are usually the next available from the bench. And they’re often on the bench for a reason—their quality isn’t good enough.”

“With today’s shortage of qualified people, the risk to increasing the current failure rate of technology projects is itself, increasing.” Ogilvie points out. “Executives must ensure that any implementation of technology includes building capability into the business around that technology. They must also ensure a robust training system is built around that technology to help engage and teach the requisite skills to new entrants to the business. With today’s ageing population and a prediction that the world’s population will peak sooner than first thought, this is becoming a more important issue than ever before”.

Talent Shortages Push Manufacturers to Reconfigure Supply Chains

Companies across all sectors are encountering difficulties in acquiring the talent that they need to implement their business strategies, according to Patrick Daly, Managing Director of the Dublin-based Alba Consulting, a supply chain consultancy, presenter of the Interlinks podcast on globalization and supply chain, and author of the book International Supply Chain Relationships: Creating Competitive Advantage in a Globalized Economy.

“With my clients operating in the manufacturing, distribution and logistics services sectors, I am increasingly finding there are more opportunities, projects, and activities to be pursued than there are resources with the requisite, talent, skills, and experience to take them forward,” he says.

“This is very concerning at a time of tumultuous change—socially, economically and geopolitically—as supply chains must be reconfigured at breakneck speed to adjust to the new realities wrought by COVID and the war in Ukraine,” Daly explains. “Companies are going to need to do a lot more to acquire, retain, and develop talent through flexible packages and attractive business cultures.”

About SAC

The Society for the Advancement of Consulting (SAC) is the premier association for independent consulting professionals who subscribe to an industry code of ethics and provide significant consulting results among their clients. Founded by Million Dollar Consulting guru Alan Weiss in 2003, SAC offers a series of in-person and online programs to help consultants share best practices and learn from industry experts and thought leaders in the business world. SAC today has members in 14 countries around the world.

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