Supply Chain Whatsulting?
You may have heard the term “supply chain consultancy” bandied about in high level business meetings or even lower level discussions, but what exactly does it mean and how do you go about finding more about it, or even choosing a consultant for your business? Let’s see if we can shed some light on supply chain logistics management and consulting without scaring anyone off.
Pressures In The Board Room
Even basic supply chains are under a great deal of pressure when firms are trying to recover from serious issues. Problems with finance, the need to expand globally, having even more demanding customers needing cost minimisation to reduce prices and of course needing to have an agile plan which can adapt quickly to changes.
Most modern companies use global supply chains in order to balance their needs to grow their market share while still reducing costs. The bosses sitting in the board room are constantly battling to deliver cost, service and general cash flow improvements while still showing competitiveness and innovation. As if that wasn’t enough, they also have to cope with the complexities and risks inherent in managing monetary resources and any kind of assets.
How Supply Chain Consultants Help
A supply chain consultant will come into a company to bring expertise across a wide range of businesses, and assist the company in a variety of different ways. Here are just some examples of the things a supply chain consultant might cover.
Risk management – there should always be a way to minimise and mitigate the risk of supplies going astray, being delayed or suddenly increasing so much in price that it puts profits in jeopardy. A consultant will help the company build supply chains which control risk management. This involves modelling supply chain behaviour in different times and conditions, and using price forecasting tools.
Customer-driven supply – instead of focusing on getting products from the factory to the customer, some supply chains instead work backwards by figuring out the stages in how a product is distributed from the customer’s end. Consultants assist with designing this type of supply chain, which turns it from a cost into a competitive process which can win additional customers.
Supermodelling – nothing to do with catwalks! This is simply the term used to deliver very high end simulations of supply chain processes as environments become more complex and uncertain. Consultants are pivotal to this process as they can bring in data from a variety of sources rather than just the company itself, which makes modelling more reliable so that decisions can be both quicker and more useful.
Global networks – when moving things around the world there is a lot to take into account! As well as things like weather conditions and facilities, what about local import/export laws, labour laws or even traditional holidays which could clog up traffic and bring the supply chain grinding to a halt? A consultant will be able to show a company how to manage this by using global centres and regional hubs for the supply chain network, or similar expert tactics to keep things moving,
Integrated planning – there is no point planning a perfect supply chain if you don’t also plan around cash flow, sales and operations (often shortened to S&OP) and of course synchronising supply with demand. Consultants will be able to show companies how to manage these things effectively and make supply chains adaptive and responsive so that rapidly-needed alterations to cope with a sudden change in conditions can be implemented smoothly without affecting running efficiency.