28 supply chain professionals share the biggest challenges of supply chain management

28 supply chain professionals share the biggest challenges of supply chain management

Chris Dunakin Last Updated: July 25th, 2019

Supply chain management is a multi-faceted process with many stakeholders and even more moving parts. New technology aims to make the supply chain more efficient, yet investing in the wrong technology further complicates productivity while hindering profitability.

Effective supply chain management offers numerous benefits for companies, so overcoming challenges to keep things running smoothly is a top priority for supply chain professionals. To learn more about the biggest supply chain challenges plaguing companies today and what supply chain leaders can do to mitigate risks and overcome common challenges, we reached out to a panel of supply chain professionals and asked them to answer this question:

“What’s the single biggest challenge of supply chain management (and how can companies overcome it)?”

Meet Our Panel of Supply Chain Professionals:

Read on to learn what our supply chain pros had to say about the biggest challenges of supply chain management and how you can overcome them.


Sebastian JungelsSebastian Jungels

@seb_jungels

Sebastian is a co-founder at KAPUA, an enterprise SaaS provider, where he helps companies to improve their forecasting accuracy and speed.

“We’re working with customers that complain about too much working capital (driven by over-stock scenarios)…”

Or poor fulfillment rates and missing revenue targets as they are facing out of stock situations. All of the above (and other down-stream KPIs and processes) are heavily influenced by the accuracy of a demand forecast: if the demand forecast is much more accurate, a company is more likely to have the right product, in the right quantities in inventory and will have less of the products in inventory that is not required. This will not only influence fill rates and service levels (driving more revenue), but it also helps to keep the cost down increasing the bottom-line.

Here’s some research on this topic.

So, my answer would be the single biggest supply chain problem is forecasting accuracy as part of S&OP. Also, Gartner says that sales and operations planning (S&OP) is the single, most-important and critical cross-functional process. If S&OP is done properly, it leads to significant returns, including increased revenue and profitability.


Calloway CookCalloway Cook

Calloway Cook is the Founder of Illuminate Labs, a dietary supplement company that does business differently. Illuminate Labs tests every single batch of finished product for label accuracy and contaminants, and then posts the test results on each product page for consumers to see themselves.

“In my opinion, the biggest challenge in supply chain management is…”

Overcoming downstream effects from delays caused by one partner/supplier. Our supply chain involves a contract manufacturer, a third-party testing facility, warehouses to store inventory and a freighting company. If one of these suppliers has a delay, it affects all the others. For example, if my contract manufacturer is late with an order it can cause me to incur excess costs with the freighting and warehousing companies, respectively.

What I do to mitigate the challenge of delays in any part of my company’s supply chain is maintain constant communication with my suppliers. I do not work with suppliers who are unable to respond back to me same-day. I learned the hard way that this can magnify the problem. As long as my suppliers can keep me updated with everything going on, I’ll be able to resolve the issue with minimal financial loss by updating the other suppliers.


John MossJohn Moss

@EnglishBlinds

John Moss is the CEO of English Blinds, the manufacturers of bespoke window blinds and shades.

“For our company, the biggest and most problematic supply chain issue we’ve faced is…”

Mitigating and accounting for unforeseen delays somewhere along the chain. This is the most common issue that arises within any supply chain, and it’s also the one that can be the hardest to predict and safeguard against. There are so many potential issues that can impact a supply chain to cause delays (such as fluctuating availability of raw materials, hold-ups in customs, adverse weather, staffing problems, political issues, procurement problems, changes in legislation and so on) that being able to realistically foresee and safeguard against each of them will only ever be partially successful, and it takes up a lot of resources.

Ergo, the most effective way that we found to safeguard against delays in the supply chain having a knock-on impact on our business is to have a reasonable level of buffer stocks on-hand at all times, rather than trying to mitigate issues we couldn’t realistically have foreseen after they’ve arisen. This initially necessitated the expansion of our warehousing provision, revision of our stock rotation and warehousing policies and associated costs, which we had to bear. However, the elasticity and leeway this has afforded us in terms of our ability to avoid being negatively impacted by supply chain delays of any type (and the breathing space it affords us if we consequently need to make other arrangements) has saved us many times more time and money in the medium term than it cost us initially. It has also helped us to safeguard our working relationships with our clients, who can rely on us to deliver as ordered and on time without fail or excuses!


Emily MurphyEmily Murphy

@scbrief

Emily earned a Bachelor of Arts from the University of California, Santa Cruz, for her major in Film and Digital Media and has experience in writing, publication and teaching. She is now an Editor at Aggregage for the site Supply Chain Brief.

“Currently, the biggest challenge for supply chain managers is…”

Keeping up with consumers and their buying behaviors. Consumer demands are constantly changing, whether this is their demand for faster order fulfillment due to the e-commerce last mile race currently occurring or meeting customer demands for omnichannel communications and better service. Many areas of the supply chain might not feel as if they are affected by this omnichannel revolution, but it disturbs every part of the supply chain. These changing buyer habits then require complete cohesivity within your organization. Therefore, better network design, planning and operations are all needed, and all of which might not be completely satisfactory. This is overall a very complex challenge, and the best way to confront it is with flexibility and better communication within your entire organization.


Michael GravierMichael Gravier

@Michael_Gravier

Michael Gravier is an Associate Professor, Marketing with a B.A. from Washington University St. Louis, M.S. Air Force Institute of Technology and Ph.D. University of North Texas. After 12 years as an Air Force logistics officer, Michael got his PhD in a top 5 logistics program, and now teaches supply chain management and marketing.

“The problem that small and medium-sized firms confront is that supply chain technology is expensive…”

Surveys and other research overwhelmingly show that cost is the biggest deterrent to investment in technology. Part of the problem is that technology is inherently risky. Will the technology be compatible with suppliers and customers? Will it go obsolete quickly? Will it require frequent maintenance and re-tooling?

All these risks are much more manageable if you’re big and have the power to dictate how things will be done with key suppliers and customers. However, we’re starting to leave the era of big, centralized data that is entirely controlled by a few large entities. Some public-private partnerships are working to standardize blockchain so that its benefits reach everyone. And firms can only grow so big before they become unmanageable. The next wave of technology will make technology cheap enough to be nearly everywhere, and the benefits will be accessible to nearly everyone.


Rishit ShahRishit Shah

@TallySchool

Rishit Shah is a finance and costing professional who teaches financial topics at TallySchool.

“The single biggest challenge of supply chain management is delivery and logistics…” 

When the products are ready to be sent out from the manufacturing facility, the company has to decide where to send the goods, how much to send and through which channels the goods should be shipped and delivered to minimize the delivery and logistics costs and to maximize sales.

Companies can overcome this challenge by optimizing the supply chain through data, information and using automated processes to make decisions. If the information flow right from the manufacturing facility to sales is automated and centralized, this problem can be solved to a greater extent. When you have real-time information, you don’t have to wait for the information to come in manually and then make the decision. You just make the decision instantly on the basis of the information available.

For example, a certain product is ready to be shipped from the manufacturing facility. Now, with the help of real-time information and automated processes, the company can have information about which sales point requires how many goods and in how much time and if there are any return goods which can be sent back in the same delivery vehicle. We can also know if there are any exceptions to the plan so that backup plans can be easily activated. Logistics and delivery can be handled in a very optimized way with the help of automated solutions using data and information.


Jessica ThieleJessica Thiele

@VL_OMNI

Jessica Thiele is the Director of Marketing at VL OMNI, an iPaaS point-to-multipoint serverless data integration platform able to capture business rules for a fully automated supply chain and technology stack partnered with Shopify Plus.

“The biggest single challenge of supply chain management — aside from configuring an effective supply chain of supportive and like-minded businesses — has been…”

Digitizing and automating key processes. With a veritable zoo of supply chain and logistics/3PL software out there, the challenge for merchants is real: how can a business effectively and strategically tie all supply chain data together in such a way that keeps the business itself nimble to change?

The solution is not what you’re likely hoping to hear: there is no easy one-size-fits-all plugin that will solve complex supply chain problems, like the one described above. At a point during your business’ growth, if you’re lucky enough, you will hit a point where you’ll be challenged to embed efficiencies while cutting cost and trying to keep the business agile to inevitable change. With that short but complex description alone, it should be fairly apparent that nothing ‘out of the box’ will work for businesses that find themselves in this unique position of growth. Coupled with the complex nature of automating data flow throughout your supply chain is the fact that many suppliers, logistics companies and 3PLs each use unique software, sometimes not used anywhere else. Connecting and automating into each of these data centers is now an even more complex problem to solve.

But automating supply chain data is certainly possible: all the way from the days of EDI (which, by the way, is still going strong) to the modern evolution of EDI communication with REST and SOAP APIs of today, merchants can strategically integrate technology throughout their supply chain, from sale to last mile (and back, in the case of returns). Merchants finding themselves in the precarious but exciting moment of growth and the need to automate key systems while maintaining agility should look towards data integration applications or services, and stay away from plug-ins. Instead, rest on the authority of an expert company specializing in iPaaS or data integration, and push for a holistic integration system design over an application-by-application approach. Merchants can also implement a data integration strategy in iterative steps, effectively taking action today on events to come tomorrow to bolster your business against change.


Charlie WilgusCharlie Wilgus

@Lucas_Group

Charlie Wilgus is the General Manager of the Manufacturing & Supply Chain Executive Search Division at Lucas, North America’s premier executive search firm.

“Optimization and efficiency are at the core of every company’s supply chain strategy these days…”

While they strive for perfection in these areas, there are more challenges and limitations than ever before. Additionally, the advancements and constant changes in technology and analytics play a huge role in supporting the success or failure of a modern day supply chain. As if this wasn’t enough, transportation costs are rising and forcing companies to constantly adjust and optimize.

There is one common thread behind all of these issues that rises to the top of list of challenges for companies today — cost control. Perhaps one of the biggest dilemmas in cost control is dealing with the new tariffs that have been imposed. Companies have been in a “wait and see” mode for the last three to six months with regard to this, and now their procurement and supply chain leadership are being forced to find new and creative ways to handle the purchasing and movement of goods on a global scale. There is no easy answer to solve this current challenge, and many companies are already experiencing the financial impact of these tariffs on their bottom line. Some companies are having to retract and tighten up production and inventory levels to ride out the storm, while others are finding innovative work-arounds to get their goods shipped and imported with respect to packaging, labeling and logistics.

While we have not seen the implications for consumers just yet, it is certainly assumed that this cost will squeeze margins to a level that will have to be shared by consumers in the form of higher prices for products and services down the road. In the meantime, companies need to make sure they have the most talented negotiators and leaders heading up their procurement and supply chain functions. While this won’t magically solve the problems, it will help control their outcomes and put the organization in the best position for future growth and success.


Debbie LentzDebbie Lentz

@RSComponents

Debbie Lentz is the President of Global Supply Chain at RS Components and the Electrocomponents Group.

“In today’s business and economic landscape, supply chain management has more opportunity and advantage than ever before — but that’s not to say it doesn’t come with challenges…” 

From a shortage of talent, to growing environmental compliance regulations, those working in supply chain management are responsible for forecasting potential challenges, risks and setbacks in order to find opportunities to overcome difficulties moving forward.

As we touched on above, the challenges of talent acquisition — and retention — was clear in 2018 and this has continued into 2019. We’re seeing challenges around gender gaps within the industry — just 10% of senior positions in supply chain management are filled by women, and only 37% of the entire supply chain is accounted for by women — as well as a skills gap, too; education and companies are no longer providing the training and qualifications needed to keep up with the changes of our economy and workforce. Simply put, if this shortfall continues, the performance of supply chain management can only decrease.

So how should companies be looking to overcome the shortage of skilled workers, as well as the skills gap, that we’re seeing more and more in supply chain management? I think it’s about two things: raising awareness and getting in front of new groups of people in order to get new talent through the doors, and then providing high-quality training to increase retention. By having a people-focused outlook, the quality of products and output will naturally increase. It’s also critical to remember that current and future skill-sets vary greatly from those who have been in the workforce for some time and will soon be retiring; simply replacing these workers will not be a solution to the talent or skills shortage — and this is where having the best possible training is critical.


Tom KieleyTom Kieley

@SourceDay

Tom Kieley is CEO at SourceDay, a SaaS solution that automates purchase order, request for quote and accounts payable management to remove costly waste and errors from global supply chains. Tom is a veteran business owner with more than a decade of experience in product management and operations, hardware and software sales and supply chain management.

“Status quo is the biggest problem plaguing supply chain management today…”

Many companies still accept manual processes, waste and costly mistakes as a way of life. It’s become common knowledge that you can’t trust your supply chain. In some organizations, receiving an order on-time, by the originally scheduled date, happens so rarely that the original due date has become obsolete. This is especially costly in today’s real-time world where one-day shipping and instant gratification are the norm.

The high rate of manual processes within supply chain management is a large part of the problem. If you want to compete in a world where automation is in every corner of consumer life, you can’t continue to lean on archaic business processes. The buyers and suppliers that keep up will be the ones that embrace digital transformation and use proven, best-in-breed automation solutions to meet today’s market demands.


TQL LogisticsBobby Neundorfer

@TQLogistics

Bobby Neundorfer works for Total Quality Logistics, the second largest 3PL in the country. They are multi-national and do $3.5B/year.

“When addressing transportation of goods, the biggest issue my prospective customers face that I can address and correct simply is…”

Communication, communication, communication. Carriers tend to abide by the “no news for the customer is good news.” In a lot of situations, this is not the case. Many companies with high value products need constant communication and updates as to what is going on over the road. Commodities such as produce, electronics, mail and military FAK require updates as often as hourly. Brokers, such as our company provides, can provide these updates to the customer as long as their is a level of transparency between customer/broker. There will obviously be a few bad apples in the bunch.

Another option is MacroPointing drivers. MacroPoint is an app that can be downloaded and a text can be sent to driver that tracks their location progress hourly for the duration of their transit. Customers who work strictly with asset-based carriers, or carriers who own their own trucks, can have ELDs or EDIs installed. Some of these systems will provide electronic updates to a number of different emails/cell phones as frequently as necessary.


Juli LassowJuli Lassow

@SolutionsJhl

Juli Lassow is the founder and principal of JHL Solutions in Minneapolis, a business solutions/management firm which advises her retail clients how to increase their productivity, growth and profits. She has particular expertise in supplier relationship management and supplier partnerships.

“In 2019, the greatest challenge that faces supply chain management is the need for flexibility in creating solutions…” 

The sudden emergence of trade disputes underscores this need. Within weeks an organization may need to find a new facility and country of production to use or face a steep cost increase.

The primary ways to overcome this challenge:

  • Invest in data and analytics. An organization needs to use the best systems available to ensure that it develops strategies using meaningful data. Access to this type of information is essential, when and as the need for swift action is necessary to address newly-surfaced problems.
  • Work with experts. Own as much of your supply chain as possible. When you do need to outsource goods or services, work to build strong partnerships with those seen as experts in their fields. Again, this will help ensure that your strategies and plans are strong. You will also be able to move quickly and with confidence, should you need to change course.
  • Have backups to your backups. Know how and where to diversify your risks. This includes systems, partners and productions processes or countries.


Lu SiqiLu Siqi

Lu Siqi is a Supply Chain Manager at SK Chemical in Shanghai.

“The biggest challenge is always…”

The human aspect of supply chain management. The processes are in place and the tasks fairly routine and simple, but issues with communication, management and being on the same page is what affects operational efficiency the most.

If leadership is on point and every subordinate understands the mission and acts proactively, all the process and systems in place that make up for human error (which still fail!) will be largely unnecessary, save for crucial checklists.


Eunji Lim Ph.D.Eunji Lim Ph.D.

Eunji Lim is an Associate Professor at Adelphi University.

“The biggest challenge of supply chain management today is…”

How to utilize enormous data collected throughout a supply chain in order to improve the overall performance of the supply chain. For example, can Netflix use the data collected from their website to predict customers’ preferences and spending patterns? Or, can Amazon use their data collected at their website, the warehouses and the points of delivery to identify the areas where costs can be reduced? Today’s companies can use advanced data analytics technologies to answer such questions.


Laura GonzalezLaura Gonzalez

@AutoNation

Laura Gonzalez is the Logistics Manager at Audi Spokane. She has been in the industry for many years and loves the constant challenges and strategies the supply chain management industry brings.

“One of the biggest challenges we have is balancing logistics and our budget…”

We constantly have new vehicles being delivered and shipping to customers all over. Not to mention we also must balance the logistics of our parts department, since our dealership also serves as a local parts supplier to customers and businesses in the area. And because transportation costs are easily one of our bigger expenses, we’re always looking for ways we can do things more efficiently.


David MillingtonDavid Millington

@nextlevelpurch

David Millington, MSc.QSM, NPDP, SPSM3®, is Director of Education at Next Level Purchasing Association. He brings over 25 years experience in the organizational and supply chain excellence arenas, and is a Certified Supply Chain Professional. David holds a Master’s Degree in Quality Systems Management from The National Graduate School of Quality Management.

“Many supply chain and procurement function leaders voice their concerns about their lack of understanding of…”

What it takes to meet customer requirements in a cost-effective manner. The consensus is that their biggest challenge is understanding the true cost of operating their supply chains and making informed decisions about product, customer and supply chain rationalization from this data. Leveraging a Total Cost to Serve Matrix provides this type of cost visibility and a way to overcome this challenge.


Maxim KhaburMaxim Khabur

@onecharge_us

Maxim Khabur is the Marketing Director for OneCharge Li-ion Batteries. Maxim’s former positions include those of Managing Director at Young & Rubicam Moscow, Added Value Moscow and Senior Marketing Manager at TNK-BP. Maxim has a Master’s degree from HULT Business School (Boston, USA) and Master’s from Plekhanov Russian State Economy Academy.

“From experience, we know that logistics and warehouse managers’ biggest worry is uptime…”

They fight with everything in the way of efficient and smooth material handling according to the schedule. But there are a lot of things in the way — equipment breaks, human errors, miscommunication with partners and vendors, you name it. There were two major directions which promise noticeable incremental gains in up-time (or decrease in down-time):

Automation. This refers both to process (better quality data collection and management) and machinery (the rise of AGV — automated guided vehicles). While the vertically integrated software allows for better reporting on real-time status of items in the warehouse or delivery, AGVs work day or night with no stops for lunch 7 days a week.

New hardware technology. Here I am talking about the Li-ion batteries, which allow for opportunity charging (quick hit charging during any break, as small as 10 minutes, as often as possible) and quick two hour full charge. With zero maintenance, Li-ion batteries drastically improve up-time and bring significant savings both in payable time and electricity and maintenance cost compare to the dated lead acid batteries technology and LPG natural gas powered engine trucks too.


Lance RobertsLance Roberts

@BeckerLogistics

Lance Roberts has been in the supply chain and logistics industry of 26 years and has worked across numerous roles and responsibilities. He is a Branch Manager of Becker Logistics.

“The top challenges of supply chain management are…”

  • Macroeconomic downturn — what can impact my business, how long could the impact last and what are the best strategies to offset/prepare for downturns?
  • Freight capacity — how long will equilibrium last?
  • Talent acquisition and retention
  • Tailoring service through segmentation
  • Scalable technology innovations


Filimon TrastelisFilimon Trastelis

@megaventory

Filimon Trastelis works as a Marketing Assistant for Megaventory, the online inventory management system that can help businesses synchronize stock and manage purchases and sales over multiple stores.

“In supply chain management, it is very common for small business owners to…”

Ignore monitoring the steps that come before a product enters their business or after the product has been ordered by the customer. They do not consider what can happen if that product needs to be returned after it has been sold. The most unachievable challenge for the industry is to convince these owners that from the early days of their company they need to track and organize all the operations that are relevant to the company.

A possible solution is to make these owners understand how valuable the use of an ERP system is for their companies and every company. The implementation of an ERP system can be considered a clear solution to this massive industry problem. It is the most worthwhile way for every owner to track his purchase, sales and manufacturing operations. All in all, it can efficiently manage and log all the supply chain operations of your organization.


Yolande Freed DunbavinYolande Freed Dunbavin

@VMACAir

Yolande Freed Dunbavin is the Supply Chain Manager at VMAC, a manufacturer of innovative rotary screw air compressors and multi-power systems with headquarters in British Columbia, Canada. Yolande has 17 years of supply chain experience.

“The single biggest challenge of supply chain management is Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP)…”

VMAC manufactures in a make-to-order environment that’s comprised of low mix, high volume components, which requires extra attention to forecasting. When properly executed, S&OP establishes production rates and operations plans that meet companies’ objectives. S&OP allows VMAC to maintain inventories, lower customer lead times, stabilize the work force and balance financial aspects. Ongoing input from other functional areas, including sales, marketing, production, engineering and finance, are vital for the successful implementation of an effective S&OP.


Amber FullertonAmber Fullerton

@AmberFullerton3

As Chief Customer Officer for twelve years at One World Direct, Amber Fullerton expertly and passionately leads growing e-commerce companies to find solutions that help them keep their brand promise to customers while reducing cost-to-serve.

“The biggest challenge to supply chain management is finding the right partner to compliment your skill set…”

Supply chain is complicated and it has two sides — getting product from a manufacturer to a distribution center takes a different set of skills from getting that product from the distribution center to your customer. Chances are you have expertise in one of these areas, but not both. The key is finding a partner who excels where you do not, and who communicates openly and promptly so you can stay ahead of any issues that may arise.

Finding someone who says they are an expert is one thing; vetting their claims is another. When you’re interviewing potential partners, focus on communication and systems. Do you get a dedicated representative for your account, or do your calls just go to a general mailbox? What is the average response time for a client call, and does the company keep records to verify their claims? Are systems integrations handled in-house or by a third party vendor? What provisions has the company made for high volume periods? Is the person you’re talking to happy to answer your questions, or are they trying to steer you back to the things they want to talk about?

Supply chain is complex and with all the variables involved, problems inevitably happen. The key is finding a partner who has expertise where you do not and who communicates clearly and quickly with you to resolve any issues. Ask the right questions and it becomes pretty apparent who can back up their claims.


Jeff MockJeff Mock

@AGTGlobal

Jeff Mock is a Business Development/Operations Specialist at AGT Global. Mock has nearly a decade of operational transportation experience. He has handled multiple accounts for utility sites that require consolidation of vendor freight and expedited shipments.

“Although it may not be the biggest challenge, third-party logistics is definitely one of the biggest areas where an issue can arise…”

Because of all the moving parts we, at AGT Global Logistics, prefer to not see weather, construction, geography, industry worker shortages, federal mandates or traffic as challenges. They are the opportunities to prove we do what our motto states — Keep Your World Turning.

To ensure that all of the moving parts arrive safely at the desired destination, hiring a well-equipped and customer-centric 3PL is key. It is peace of mind when you know the location and ETA of every element of your order. With a trusted and established 3PL you know that should anything go awry, your 3PL will be completely transparent and forthcoming while doing everything in their power to ensure that you meet your deadlines.


Dr. Ed FrazelleDr. Ed Frazelle

@RightChain

Dr. Ed Frazelle is president and CEO of RightChain Incorporated. He is one of the world’s foremost authorities on supply chain strategy, technology and operations. RightChain is a premier provider of supply chain artificial intelligence solutions, supply chain strategy consulting and supply chain operations design.

“The single biggest supply chain management challenge is complexity…” 

We call the issue the supply chain complexity vs. capabilities gap. The larger the gap, the lower the supply chain and business performance. As the number of products, customers, sources and channels has proliferated, the education, methodologies and decision support tools have not kept up.


Jennifer UlrichJennifer Ulrich

@GetSavings

Recognized industry-wide as an authority on Procurement Transformation and Category Management, Jennifer Ulrich boasts over a decade of consulting experience. Source One’s clients trust her to provide the cross-functional procurement knowledge and innovative strategies necessary to develop transformation roadmaps and realize long-term savings.

“For many organizations, supply management efforts are still hampered by procurement’s lack of influence…”

The function has long occupied an obscure, tactical position — even within many leading organizations. To begin driving strategies and boosting its internal clout, procurement needs to become an advocate for itself. It won’t always be easy. Organizations who’ve long held procurement at arm’s length won’t change their ways overnight. By learning to speak the language of other business units, however, procurement can begin to position itself as a valuable, strategic ally and an agent for sustainable change.


John Anthony RadostaJohn Anthony Radosta

@BlockValidator

John Radosta is an enterprise solutions architect for KaizenTek and a Shark Tank alumni. He’s managed international supply chains as an entrepreneur and also helped large enterprise manage their supply chains using blockchain.

“One of the biggest challenges we’ve seen in managing supply change is…”

Managing of associated documents (purchase orders, BOLs, inspection reports, customs documents, etc.). Oftentimes, we’ve seen these documents modified after acceptance (especially with purchase orders) or lost after signature which can cause massive problems with port authorities and even acceptable MQLs for retailers.

One of the things we specialize in at KaizenTek are blockchain-based solutions for managing supply chain documents. One of our most recent solutions ensures document accuracy and proper storage using blockchain, as well as guaranteeing that documents cannot be modified after the fact by creating a publicly verifiable record of the document.


Melanie DiSalvoMelanie DiSalvo

@MelanieWendy

Melanie DiSalvo has over 8 years of experience working in Asia in supply chain management, product development and production for brands like Eileen Fisher, Rag & Bone, Ralph Lauren, Marc Jacobs, AG Jeans, Abercrombie & Fitch, Opening Ceremony, Citizens of Humanity and others.

“The single biggest challenge in supply chain management for most companies is balancing cost and quality…”

I see so many times companies opt for components that will save money. But then because of decreased quality or late deliveries, they end up losing money or barely breaking even from the change.

To overcome this mistake, I recommend brands always look at the bigger picture and to consider the long term costs of small changes that are intended to save money. One way to do this is to run a test order. This way, companies can see how their new supplier performs without committing to their entire inventory.


Rob DeStefanoRob DeStefano

@GoIvanti

Robert DeStefano is a senior product marketing manager at Ivanti Supply Chain. He has more than 18 years of experience helping businesses understand the value of mobile technology solutions when it comes to boosting worker productivity and enforcing mobile security.

“Accuracy, in its many forms, is at the root of all supply chain management…”

From manufacturer to retailer, the cost of carrying too much inventory, or not enough, impacts the bottom line. As we navigate the convergence of supply chain systems, tools like blockchain are going to help optimize efficiency on this front.

But, there is also the operational accuracy that supply chain firms are pursuing every single day. Metrics such as Perfect Order Rate tell businesses a lot. Accuracy in this capacity not only provides efficiency and cost control, but increases customer satisfaction.

Connecting WMS and ERP systems (among others) to mobile workers goes a long way toward addressing accuracy. We all appreciate the data accuracy inherent in barcode scanning over previously paper-based data entry, but there’s more. Today’s mobile deployments enlist multimodal data capture — everything from barcodes and RFID to voice-enabled workflows. Good news for supply chain firms: there are powerful tools available today to raise accuracy on the operational side, coupled with the improvements coming soon through supply chain convergence.


Dave MunsonDave Munson

@saddlebackbags

Dave Munson owns a leather factory in central Mexico, Old Mexico Manufacturing. They produce for his own company, Saddleback Leather, as well as a number of others.

“The biggest problem our management has is…”

Our purchasing people trying to get bribes from vendors or potential vendors in order for us to do business with them. They choose companies who will invoice them with higher prices if they promise to get a cut from that vendor when we buy their services or raw materials. It is widely known in manufacturing that the supply chain is the most corrupt area of any business, and it’s hard to stop. And not just in Mexico. It’s a global problem. Even Cisco Systems just caught it happening in the millions of dollars with one of their employees.