Practice of the Week: 3.4 Supply chain

Our supply chains are now disrupted badly. The immediate effects are obvious and everywhere: hand sanitizer in short supply, nonexistent toilet paper and empty grocery store shelves. But global supply chain difficulties are affecting 75% of all businesses, ultimately impacting consumers. This might be the time to ask questions about your supply chain.


Definition of Supply chain: “The optimized flow of products and services from their origin through one’s facilities on to consumption and then disposal.”

Practice Summary

  • Plan: Focus on customer’s critical needs, estimate overall margins, track performance metrics
  • Source: Select best vendors for pricing, delivery and payment terms
  • Integrate: Make supply chain partners standardize processes, remove redundancies and minimize inventory
  • Make: Design, test, produce, package
  • Deliver: Review your network of warehouses, carriers and work order and invoicing system
  • Guarantee: Receive defective products and address customer queries

3 Good Questions (discuss in a management meeting):

  1. How could we help our key vendors help us?
  2. How should we optimize our shipping and delivery times?
  3. Should we lease, own or contract for our fleet?

The Resources have been approved by our Review Board

Global information networks have enabled big companies to adapt their supply chains to the crisis, such as on-line sales distributions of medical supplies by Amazon and CVS, and going into production of ventilators by car companies, e.g., General Motors and Tesla. Can you change what products and services you make? Can you deliver them in different ways?