Are your supply chain initiatives falling short?

Sam Phipps

Last updated: April 17, 2023
Sam Phipps Slimstock Round

Lots of businesses have ambitious plans for their supply chain.

You might yourself.

But many supply chain initiatives fail.

Despite the best intentions from senior management and the mightiest efforts from staff, they buckle under the pressure and deliver, at best, mediocre results.

Huge destructive events like global pandemics often force some business leaders to look at changes as a means to an end. Often that end is keeping the business afloat.

Other business leaders are constantly innovating and conjure up game-changing initiatives before their morning coffee.

These are often more than re-stabilisation efforts. They’re companies hot-footing it in pursuit of higher profits, greater efficiency & happier customers.

Some of these initiatives require the supply chain to be rebuilt from the ground up. Whereas some only need small changes. But either way they can have a massive impact on performance.

Sadly however, only a very small number of businesses deliver these initiatives successfully.

So what about those bold few that do succeed? What sets them apart?

HINT – they never go it alone. They get the entire business behind them and make it happen.

So how can you steal their successful approaches to ensure your own business thrives?

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Introducing integrated business planning

It sounds obvious. But the key to success is all about the journey & the people you go with.

Integrated business planning (IBP) is a process for translating your desired business outcomes into financial and operational resource requirements that in turn help smash your goals.

Sounds simple, right?

Not quite.

The first problem is, many supply chain initiatives aren’t actually supply chain initiatives. They’re bigger, loftier goals that don’t exist without further thinking.

“We need to increase sales.”

OK. And without the power of manifestation, how are you reeling in that whale?

The same can be said with general statements along the lines of…

“We need better availability.”

“We need to reduce inventory.”

“We need to improve efficiency.”

They’re all noble pursuits. They’re the kind of north star metrics that make sense for many businesses. But they’re not initiatives.

Successful companies go deeper and have goals which then determine the initiatives.

This is the heart & soul of any IBP process.

The “why” is the lifeblood of success

More often than not strategy’s driven by upper management. But the actions delivered by those in the engine room.

Therefore you can’t underestimate the importance of spelling out the reasons for the strategy to all in the process.

That is, making sure your team understands why the goals matter.

Explaining where you are today & how big the gap is to glory.

And then determining what you’re going to do to fill that gap.

What’s the method behind your madness?

I might sound like a business meditation coach here, but understanding your ‘why’ is quite an important cog in the vehicle to success.

Obviously, in this case I’m talking about your company ‘why’.

Not your kids, or buying a bigger house.

Why do you need these goals? Why are they important?

Because if you can work that out, you’ll find the really important parts of the initiative to focus on.

Sure, everyone wants better availability. But is better availability a nice-to-have or is your biggest customer at risk of moving to your competitor?

Equally, every business wants better efficiency. But why do you need it?

Is it because your team’s so busy doing other tasks that you’re missing customer orders? Or is it because costs are soaring? Are the practises you used to use no longer achievable?

Connecting the dots through IBP

There’s lots of moving parts in this process. So it’s easy for efforts to be lost.

And this is where IBP comes into its own.

A solid IBP process will integrate all directives and initiatives into the company’s plan to create one truth. One north star metric.

The most crucial element in all of this? Measuring, monitoring & adapting the tactics as you go.

And sticking within the existing framework issued from above.

Maybe it’s increased sales. Or better availability. Or a reduced inventory.

But this single view provides total transparency & control for everyone in the business. They understand why they need those things, and within limits, what they can try to get there.

You can also create ownership & accountability for translating goals into winning strategies.

And by doing all of that, you’ll make sure your initiatives never fail.

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