Gene Long, president of UPS Consulting (www.ups-consulting.com), offers these supply chain resolutions for 2004, designed to keep your logistics headaches to a minimum:
Take action and shake things up. Every company has departmental czars who defy you to mess with their empires. This year, shake up the czars. Empowerment requires action, and the power you can create by facing today's problems is incredible. Stop avoiding the difficult issues. Face them head-on.
Be your own worst customer. Customer needs, like customers themselves, come in all shapes and sizes. Your supply chain should reflect these differences. Get as close to your customers as possible to understand their operations and their risks. Then be your own worst customer. The perfect supply chain strikes just the right balance between cost containment and customer requirements. Manage costs — but always focus on the customer.
Learn the metric system. It is critical that you know how much your supply chain costs — in real dollars. To do this, you must know the components that make up your supply chain. Therefore, determine the right metric for measuring success. Put a senior executive in charge of the supply chain. Studies indicate that when a senior supply chain executive reports to the CEO, it is easier to measure total costs, efficiencies and the performance of their supply chain.
Take an inside look into outsourcing. Outsourcing lets businesses focus on their core competencies while achieving operational success and enjoying less of the responsibility for day-to-day management. However, while you may no longer be directly managing a particular business process, you likely will end up managing the outsourcer. Take a look inside and see if your supply chain can run more efficiently and effectively, and how things need to change to accomplish your goals. Don't merely trade in one set of issues for another.
Become the most important link in your company's supply chain. To understand how every link in the supply chain affects the next you have to understand every link — from the shipping door to the boardroom door, and talk to everyone about his or her role. By helping them understand the length, width, depth and height of the supply chain within your company, you can be the most important link.