What IS the Supply Chain?

March 19, 2018
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Certainly, we are well-known in supply chain circles; however, what does that mean?  This topic has come up somewhat frequently lately – should we call this position an Operations Manager or a Supply Chain Manager?  Which will get us the best fit talent?

Because we are known as supply chain experts, we continue to talk about the supply chain even though LOTS of people – including potential clients – are unsure what in the world that means.

For a while we talked about operations but that definitely didn’t provide the appropriate vision since our passion surrounds providing bold customer promises and profits. Nowhere does operations convey customers and growth.

We also talk about manufacturing since it is our sweet spot within the supply chain! As the slogan touted at the Manufacturing Summit‘s reception on Valentine’s Day, “We love Manufacturing”. The bottom line is the “what to call what so many companies desperately need” dilemma has proven frustrating!

In our case, we have decided to convey our vision of the supply chain in pictures – who doesn’t like a good picture?  (Note our updated homepage)

 

 

I brainstormed this topic a while back with my global consulting strategy group (and so I want to give them a shout out and thank you), and we had fun creating concepts to visualize the supply chain:

  1.  From cradle to grave –  It certainly does go from beginning to end -and beyond with reverse logistics and after sales support.  It is a bit dreary but nicely descriptive -and there are plenty of clients who should put some items, customers and poor performers ‘in the grave’ sooner than they do.  Have you noticed this too?
  2.  From inception to reception –  This appeals to me as it spans the inception of an idea for a product or service to the reception by the customer or client.
  3.  Coal to car – A manufacturing metaphor related to the same theme so, of course, I appreciate it.  Henry Ford owned the coal mines that made the steel that made the car.
  4.  From concept to cash –  This also appeals to me because it conveys the result of the supply chain – translating concepts into cash.
  5.  Creation to application or creation to customer– Appealing from a creative and technology point-of-view.  I have to say – many clients have issues in ‘application’. And, many people who know me will say, “how did you come up with 2 more C’s with creation to customer?!”
  6.  Significance to service – Since I have a passion for the customer side and wholeheartedly believe that you won’t have happy customers without happy employees; thus, significance to service hits the nail on the head as well.

Do these provide a picture of the supply chain?  Which do you like best? I hope to hear from you!

One last thought on supply chain.  You’ll notice that purchasing is only one aspect of supply chain; logistics is only one aspect of supply chain; and so on.  In fact, isn’t the supply chain never-ending? It doesn’t really end but feeds the next loop within the supply chain?

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