My grandma has always been a huge part of my life; growing up with her, literally, a 5-minute drive around the corner, ready to lend a helping hand usually with braiding mine and my sisters’ hair. I am lucky to have my grandma around and I cherish the pearls of wisdom she offers.
Throughout the blog, we’ve covered some pretty interesting supply chain lessons from a wide variety of people; moms, daughters, younger generations and more recently dads. So here are some things that I have learned from my grandma that supply chain managers may find beneficial:
Technology is only as good as its user
Yes, my grandma has a smartphone, yes she has a laptop. But does she know how to use them to reap the full benefits? That’s questionable. Quite frankly, I’ve probably only seen my grandma use the laptop once and even now, she still entrusts the help of my mom to do all her online banking and other research. You could say this may be due to reluctance or even a lack of education on technology.
Nowadays, there is so much technology out there. Implementing technology in supply chains often represents huge investment with the hope of gaining benefits across the entire network. Modern technologies, such as inventory management software, tracking inventory with RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) tags and robotics in manufacturing, can offer many improvements to the supply chain. These include enhancing productivity, cutting costs in the long run, providing better visibility and ultimately improving customer satisfaction and maintaining clientele. But, even with all these amazing technological advancements, the extent of the resulting benefits available is dependent on the user. Employees will have to be involved, engaged and trained on the technology for better end results. Otherwise it would be a waste of investment if the technology isn’t being used to its full potential.
Traditions are important – or are they?
Traditions are treasured and stuck to, for the most part, in my family. For as long as I can remember we have vacationed to Italy every summer for three weeks. This particular tradition goes back 40 years, when my mom was a child. Then, there is our winter and Easter break skiing vacations to the Austrian slopes for about two weeks. All of these are orchestrated and organized by my wonderful grandma so that she gets quality time with the family, and most importantly, grandchildren. Maybe it’s time for a change of destination and new traditions now that we are all getting older.
Over the years, supply chain structures have changed due to new trends, which ultimately trigger improvements. A more modern approach to the supply chain has progressed from the traditional view of a silo concept, in which each element of the supply chain is considered as a separate function and companies focus on optimizing one component at a given time. With the traditional supply chain, information is often only exchanged between necessary parties, which means some delays are experienced as information is passed along the chain. Therefore, organizations aren’t very responsive to customer needs and demands.
However, a more modern approach embraces an integrated network with all supply chain players connected via one technology platform. This way, companies have access to a number of benefits besides cost-efficiency. These include improved communications and a more transparent supply chain, providing a complete view of operations. Certain information, for example, demand forecasts and inventory levels, can be shared with all parties. Moreover, with a digitally integrated supply chain, companies can have better flexibility and responsiveness as they can anticipate, plan for, and assess demand changes thanks to the shared data. If supply chain managers haven’t already, it might be a good idea to integrate and digitize your supply chain network.
Know when to call it quits
Like every year, at the beginning of April, we took a traditional family skiing holiday to Austria. Now, with any sport, there is the chance of injury and my grandma knows that all too well. Over the years, my grandma has broken her leg and dislocated her shoulder and knee all from skiing, and still continued to ski. However, this year she broke her wrist. She doesn’t seem to enjoy it as much anymore. So maybe she should stop and hang up her skis. Some would say she should have done it a long time ago, but ultimately, it’s her decision.
In terms of supply chain management, one must know when to stop working alone on projects that aren’t advancing as one would hope, and consult some help. This could be done through collaborating with other organizations. Collaboration in supply chains is the result of two or more organizations working closely together to realize shared objectives, such as focusing on reducing costs, improving customer service or supply chain performance. Take an example from one of our recent wrap-up posts; to make deliveries more convenient for consumers, Amazon collaborated with Volvo and General Motors to try and successfully run their new in-car delivery service. Another example: companies collaborating with suppliers to conduct more sustainable operations as a part of their Corporate Social Responsibility initiatives. Collaboration may be a simple answer to a problem by providing innovative solutions so that projects can still go ahead.
Supply chain lessons can be taken from a wide variety of sources and provide supply chain managers with valuable advice, in terms of improvements. Therefore, it is essential that companies develop their supply chains and processes and train their employees in line with incoming trends, so that they can operate efficiently and remain competitive.
Header photo: Katya Shut/shutterstock.com