Creating a winning supply chain strategy

26 supply chain pros reveal the single most effective way to create a winning supply chain strategy

Warehouse Efficiency Updated January 19th, 2023

With new supply chain innovations, trends in logistics technology and advancements like automated robots making a big impact on operational efficiency, it seems that supply chain optimization is within reach for more companies than ever before. However, even with a growing number of innovative technologies at your fingertips, your success still depends on your supply chain strategy.

To help you determine what tactics, processes, technologies and practices are a must-have in winning and effective supply chain strategies, we reached out to a panel of supply chain professionals and asked them to answer this question:

“What’s the single most effective way to create a winning supply chain strategy?”

Meet Our Panel of Supply Chain Professionals:

Read on to learn about the most effective tactics you could be using to create a winning supply chain strategy with examples.

Trey Howard - supply chain strategy expert Trey Howard

Trey Howard is the President of Operations at Specialty Fuel Services.

“We see first hand how supply chains fail due to…”

Poor business continuity practices. Having a backup system for all eventualities is the only way to ensure your supply chain will endure in adverse situations, from weather to natural disasters. It’s a simple but laborious process of considering all of the different ways your supply chain can fail, and to implement robust secondary measures for each scenario.

Emmanuel Frost - supply chain management strategy expert Emmanuel Frost


Emmanuel Frost is the CEO and Co-Founder of Brand Alignment which specializes in helping brands remove and identify MAP pricing violators and unauthorized sellers from the Amazon platform.

“When developing your supply chain strategy…”

You should be thinking about preventing unauthorized sellers and MAP pricing violators from day one. When there are leakages in your supply chain, those units typically end up on e-commerce websites like Amazon or eBay and are sold at prices lower than authorized retailers.

At this point, brands begin the enforcement process but the mistake was already made from the beginning. What we recommend is serialization for every product, preferably etched to deter product tampering. Distributor agreements must be very strict in stating the consequences of using unauthorized sales channels and ignoring MAP pricing rules while including potential fines. To top it off, there should be a very competent and organized EDI software and CRM used when working with vendors to keep track of all product serial numbers. Now it is only a matter of test buying products through unauthorized channels to recognize where the supply chain leakage is coming from.

Michael Brown - supply chain strategy expert Michael D. Brown


Michael D. Brown is an accomplished entrepreneur and Director at Fresh Passion Institute. He is also a management expert formidably equipped with more than seventeen years of experience holding a multitude of leadership positions at Fortune Global 100 Companies as well as judiciously helping companies and individuals achieve exceeding results in a wide spectrum of industries.

“We had been struggling through embarrassing failures in our supply chain strategy, as typified essentially in struggling customer service…”

Sales of our products were rapidly deteriorating and we were losing our loyal customers in droves. Getting referrals was becoming more out of reach as we couldn’t even acquire or retain customers lest to get referrals. We needed something innovative, an idea out of the box to pull us out of the storm.

Ever since, we have made the customer the uncontested deity we are worshipping, our #1, yet sales were dropping and our supply chain strategy was still reeking with ineffectiveness, trickling out miserably poor results. So I asked, “How about we make our employee the number #1 and fortify them better to radiate excellence to the customer as transferred effect?”

This is what we did in this innovative supply chain strategy. We made our frontline employee the #1 and made the customer the #2. Doesn’t this sound ridiculous? But by massive development investments in our frontline employees rather than focusing on sanctimoniously worshipping the customer, our brand was able to project excellence to the frontiers, putting enhanced leaders at our front lines who could independently and intelligently wow the customer without having to call his upline.

We delved into the idea of this revolutionary supply chain strategy by inventively overhauling our customer service. This spontaneously boosted our sales. It was a voluptuous multiplier effect; every customer opened the door to more customers. This system was remarkably effective in forcing the customer into a “volunteer brand evangelist.” This marketing method — while terribly unorthodox — was terribly effective, helping us to remarkably boost sales and referrals by over 47% with a very minuscule budget.

Eliminating all bureaucratic roadblocks in our customer service, our customer service personnel, now intellectually enhanced, could reactively and autonomously meet our customers promptly at the point of their needs. What we achieved was a breakthrough supply chain strategy that got the customer satisfied, enough to become an unpaid “volunteer brand crusader” who crusaded for our brand by referring friends and acquaintances.

Scott Newton - supply chain management strategy expert Dr. Scott Newton


Dr. Scott Newton, Director of Product Management for TeleTracking, has more than 30 years of experience in healthcare, working as an EMT, a nurse, an educator, and a patient flow command center leader. Scott has a deep knowledge of the healthcare system and understands that success is tied to high reliability, just-in-time responses and responsible solutions.

“Given the nature of our business, TeleTracking has a relatively short supply chain…”

Our principle supplies come from providers of cloud-based systems and companies which supply us with hardware and office equipment. We also use contractors to provide data coding services. We optimize our supply chain by focusing on our core strengths and outsourcing other activities (like data coding), utilizing mobile technologies and ensuring that our supply chain is responsive.

Jon Quigley - supply chain strategy expert Jon Quigley


Jon Quigley is the Principal of Value Transformation. He has decades of product development experience and working with suppliers typically as partners. This includes supplier evaluations and assessments, as well as line audits with supplier quality assurance as the supplier’s line is set up to accommodate the newly designed product.

“It sort of depends upon what we are purchasing from the supplier as to the approach we should take…”

  • Commodity
  • Strategic

The first level, for components or typical commodity type products, we will at least want to perform a supplier evaluation of some sort. We should have a checklist of those things that we deem important in a would be supplier’s capability — a supplier evaluation, as it were. This should tell us if the supplier values those things our organization does and provide some measure of present competency and direction and investment in future competencies. We may want to review their manufacturing facilities and perform some sort of quick assessment (for example, explore their process capability and yield of the product and how they handle returned parts).

The second level, when we want more than just parts from the supplier, for example, is when they have expertise we need in our product development. In this case we are not looking for just the lowest cost or ability to deliver parts in the short term. We are seeking an alliance and partnership rather than thinking of the supplier as the lowest cost provider. We need to find competent suppliers, ones that we can work with over the long haul. This may require a balance of competency and capability and a supplier willingness to work more like a partner and less like another standalone business. In my experience, companies find themselves in difficulties with suppliers by either taking the cheapest quote looking for the one-off score (when that approach is not the best solution for the sourcing at hand) or by treating that supplier business as a subservient partner (in name only) even when the rhetoric espoused is we partner with our supply base. Treating suppliers like true partners is important, but most important when our business is in a slump (for example, some cyclical event). We must act in ways that follow our rhetoric, especially when it is difficult to do so, that demonstrates our commitment to the partnership. We cannot call our suppliers partners and then treat them in ways contrary to our verbiage.

So, the best thing we can have with our supplier is to determine what type of supplier we need and then take appropriate steps. In the case of the second type of supplier, we will need to treat them as partners, and our communication to them well-considered, that is, whether our rhetoric matches our actions with this supplier. We want a relationship with this supplier to be as transparent as we can get and cultivate this into a long-term symbiotic relationship.

Kriti Agarwal - expertise in supply chain strategy Kriti Agarwal


Kriti is the Content Writer at Orderhive. An ardent reader, she aspires to make a mark in this world with her words.

“There’s no one single best way to create a winning supply chain strategy…” 

The supply chain is the most critical business function; it is not just a business function anymore. A good supply chain can bring great value to your organization. In the current dynamic state of the global economy, the supply chain is driven by the customers, to meet their exceeding demands and expectations.

Some strategies for an excellent supply chain are:

1. Cut inventory costs

Be it a brick and mortar store or an online business, inventory is always present and it costs money. You also have to consider storage costs, warehouse maintenance costs, ordering new items, packaging, vendor costs — all these require spending money. To avoid skyrocketing inventory expenditure, you need to keep accurate inventory count. This will prevent overstocking and understocking, saving you unnecessary inventory and storage costs.

2. Integrate business processes with technology

Technology is advancing every day. If the right technology is infused with your warehouse and inventory management processes, it can greatly streamline your entire operations and grant value to your organization. To survive the increasing customer demands you need shorter lead times and faster shipping and delivery times. By automating your inventory management you can achieve all these things.

3. Use an inventory management software

Taking cues from the previous point, an inventory management software will arm you with real-time data so you know exactly how much or how little inventory you need. With the help of an inventory management software, every piece of your inventory will be accounted for. It will also track your goods right from the moment an order is received, its journey through the supply chain until it leaves the warehouse for shipping. A good inventory management software with integrations with online marketplaces and stores, and one that is adaptable to new technologies could prove to be the ultimate solution to your inventory management woes.

4. Manage inventory risk

There are a number of risks involved in the supply chain and inventory management process. Some of the common types of risks involved are theft, wastage, damage to goods, shrinkage and sudden spikes or drops in a product’s demand, among others. Prior planning for these contingencies can be useful. The key move is to gather all essential data in realtime from every point in the supply chain in order to identify areas of weaknesses and loss. You also need to accurately update inventory levels, sales and stock replenishment data, supply chain, etc. with a backup plan as part of contingency planning.

5. Take green initiatives

Consumers take environmental impact into consideration when purchasing goods. Being eco-friendly improves brand image and credibility in the eyes of the consumer. No matter your industry, if you take social responsibility seriously, suppliers and buyers will notice.

Michael Stammers - expertise in supply chain strategy Matthew Stammers


Matthew Stammer leads Marketing at Taulia, helping the company develop a compelling narrative centered on technology-led working capital optimization which flows through everything the company does from product strategy, through communications and sales to customer success. Taulia engages with their audiences emotionally and measures all their activity analytically to accelerate customer adoption and growth.

“Leading organizations look to improve working capital by…”

Optimizing their financial supply chain, using the same rigor they apply to streamlining their physical supply chain. This requires a sophisticated approach to process automation and consideration for the financial liquidity of both the buying organization and suppliers. The financial supply chain presents an opportunity to deliver beyond process efficiency and cost savings by allowing companies to tap into new sources of revenue and profit streams. Optimizing cash positions is possible with strong, lean, on-time payment performance and deliberate strategies for benefiting from early payment discounts and third-party funding sources.

Chase Bowler Chase Bowler


Chase works with CanvasPop, a successful e-commerce photo printer.

“The single most effective way to create a winning supply chain strategy is…”

Basing all decisions on big data. Supply chain data will only become more and more important. If your supply channel managers and providers can read the data properly, they can identify and resolve issues.

Dave Munson Dave Munson


Dave Munson is the founder and CEO of Saddleback Leather and of their leather factory, Old Mexico Manufacturing.

“A giant problem we’ve had at our factory in Mexico, which I’ve heard is a huge problem in the US, too, is…”

Vendors offering bribes to sourcing agents and sourcing agents asking for bribes from vendors. I’ve heard it has the potential to be the most corrupt position in every company.

To have a winning strategy, right up front, we bluntly tell all of our vendors that if we hear or even suspect of them bribing our sourcing agents to be chosen as one of our vendors, then we will let all of the regional business owners know about them and spend money to prosecute as best we can. We tell our sourcing agents that we have told the vendors to let us know immediately if our guys are even hinting at receiving money to choose them as a vendor for our factory over others. Works for us.

Jake Rheude Jake Rheude


Jake Rheude is the Vice President of Marketing for Red Stag Fulfillment, an e-commerce order fulfillment service with warehouses across the United States.

“A winning supply chain strategy depends on your ability to…”

Meet customer demands while making the best use of inventory and revenue. The ability to accurately predict demand, which is now available through a variety of analytics programs and partners, ensures that a business is making as many sales as possible by avoiding out-of-stocks, increasing customer satisfaction. If you’re a business with perishable goods, demand forecasting also limits loss due to spoilage.

The hidden or overlooked element to predicting demand is its reach into a business. If you’ve got accurate forecasts, you’re able to make a range of business decisions more effectively. These include planning your production or manufacturing schedules, buying the right amount of raw materials you need, creating new supplier relationships today if your current partner can’t handle the jump you expect in 6 months, where you locate warehouses or shipping facilities or even how you market your products.

Knowing your demand curves can also influence pricing so that you’re less likely to have a surplus of stock when it’s out of season or made obsolete.

You can think of predicting demand in your supply chain much like you do a weather forecast. In snowy winters, cities and counties need to salt street and sidewalks ahead of the snow. After it falls, you’ve got to get plows out there so people can safely get to work and things like hospitals can remain open. The more accurately they can forecast the need for salt and trucks, the easier it is to keep up the flow of all the mission-critical needs of a city and the people in it.

Marie Meliksetian Marie Meliksetian


Marie Meliksetian is the CEO of Reliance Solution Services, LLC. She is a global executive with a wealth of experience in leading procurement operations, business outsourcing, transformation and technology across industries. She is known for pushing the limits of conventional thinking to become a strategic player driving revenue, enhancing quality, minimizing risk and being at the forefront of innovation.

“The most effective way to create a winning supply chain strategy is to address one of the most critical risks…”

Data and cyber security.

Importance of data and cyber security in supply chain

The speed at which innovation and technology is rising through the internet of things (IoT),  machine-to-machine learning, artificial intelligence (AI) and use of mobile applications will continue to increase the risks to the business and personal data. Hackers are evolving with the technology. They are using all creative means in accessing the “jewels” of a company and using it for their advantage. Supply chain is a critical point of entry. A targeted focus on cyber and data security in the supply chain strategy is one of the most critical areas companies need to address.

The maturity of an organizations’ procurement and supply chain, its processes and technology are critical to managing the business and organizational risks. Visibility, management and audit of the supply base including contracts and system access are critical when managing potential risks for data and cyber security. It is no longer sustainable for companies to delay the enhancement of their procurement and supply chain organizations. A company’s most critical “jewels” are embedded in an organization’s operation and cost structure. The door may be wide open for hackers to enter and time is prime to take action.

The risks

Procurement and supply chain has a tremendous amount of data and access to information flow within an organization on a daily basis. They have access to customer, government, personal information, financial information, contracts and confidential information. Any breach can open access to a wealth of information and data creating vulnerability and risks. Such risks include but are not limited to:

  • Information and data loss
  • Customer and financial loss
  • Reputation damage
  • Low employee morale and loss of talent

Questions to ask

  • Does your supply chain organization have a process and a plan to identify, manage and address potential data and cyber security attacks?
  • How many suppliers providing services to your company are not vetted by procurement/IT? What are you doing about it?
  • Have you assessed your core suppliers’ cyber security stance?
  • Is it in line with your cyber security requirements and controls?
  • Do you have contract commitments with suppliers protecting you from breach and cyber risks?
  • Do you have policy in place to aggressively eliminate maverick spending and spend creep? If so, are you truly managing it across your organization? And are you getting results?
  • What type of system and data access do your suppliers have?
  • Can they store any of your critical data on their systems?
  • What risks are you exposed to should data be accessed through a cyber attack?
  • What type of policies do you have in place to manage supplier access risk/security?
  • What type of analytics are you conducting on your spend and suppliers performance?
  • Is one single analytics tool used consistently across your supply chain and organization?
  • If not, what actions are you taking to consolidate formats, sources and tools?
  • Is your procurement process integrated into a solid data and cyber security solution?
  • Do you have appropriate controls over your data?
  • Are you adhering to certain standards/regulations (i.e., ISO, GDPR)?
  • If not, what actions are you taking?
  • Does your supply chain team include users trained and re-trained to avoid risks?
  • What is your communication process should a breach take place at a supply chain level?

Those are only few of the questions that a supply chain organization must ask itself and worry about if a plan is not in place.

How to address it

It is critical for an organization to develop a framework that is repeatable and that allows the supply chain organization to be proactive and well prepared for any risks surrounding data and cyber security incidents.

Such a framework needs to be used in a consistent and repeatable way irrespective of whether a threat is imminently in place or not and irrespective of size, industry or location.

The approach to implementing such a framework would need to focus on defining the target data and cyber security stance of the organization, assessing the current state, identifying the gaps and opportunities for improvement and the development of a process that would manage such gaps in an effort to minimize potential risks. Note that the supply chain framework would not replace existing company-wide frameworks or processes, but rather complement and integrate with them. It is critical to ensure industry practices, national and international standards and guidelines are considered when developing the framework content and processes.

The value that the supply chain organization can gain from a framework is the ability to create a path to preparedness with proactive, actionable steps for risk management in case of a breach.

Supply chain is a critical organization and channel for data and cyber security. Companies must focus this area in their strategies to minimize potential risks to the company’s financial and reputational position.

Charlie Wilgus Charlie Wilgus


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

“Unpacking this question is a bit of a magic trick in that supply chain is…”

A series of very complex activities that force a company to make strategic choices at the ground/production levels, ultimately impacting the value and success of the entire organization. It has a lot to do with focus and efficiency, but it’s the companies that try to be everything to everybody that end up in trouble.

To create a successful supply chain strategy from a technical standpoint, you have to ensure that everything is integrated from end-to-end, both from a systems/applications standpoint and from a leadership alignment perspective (S&OP). Systems and applications have to be integrated so that there’s no degradation when data is converted. A good example is when functions don’t collaborate: finance is planning from one dataset, sales another and marketing is a third set of data. The result is a very poor forecast that supply chain has to execute against. Ultimately, this results in poor service and a lot of incremental cost to try to fulfill the demand.

But let’s try and keep it simple: the key to a winning supply chain strategy is to ask a lot of questions until you can best understand what the key success factors are for the entire business. A solid supply chain strategy should support the overall business strategy. Once you know these key success factors, you can have a sound leadership discussion around the supply chain strategy. The discussions must deliver a simple but compelling story that can be told throughout the organization from the top down.

The four questions that must be answered in the story are as follows:

  • What is the vision of the future?
  • Why are we going in this direction?
  • What are the key steps toward getting us to this future place?
  • How will we measure our progress and success?

Something critical to remember in this supply chain journey is that strategy is not the destination — strategy is what specific actions you’re going to take to get to your destination.

At the end of the day, it all comes down to leadership as well. If all leaders can tell this story with conviction and deliver a repeatable process with a clarity of purpose that gets buy-in throughout the organization, then that is the single most effective way to create a winning supply chain strategy.

Laura Toplis Laura Toplis


Laura Toplis is the Business Continuity Coordinator for the New Zealand Ambulance Service and has recently developed a new product called BCP Builder, which is an Online Business Continuity Plan Template. This allows businesses to easily prepare an ISO 22301 compliant business continuity plan.

“The single most effective way to create a winning supply chain strategy is to focus on resilience…”

Find the best supplier for your product or service, then before your hire them, check their business continuity plan. Ensure they can continue to serve you through a disruption.

Once you’ve chosen the best supplier for any particular product or service, offer them 80% of the work. Give the remaining 20% of the work to your second choice supplier. Keep the details of your third choice supplier as a back-up.

If you follow this process, and one of your suppliers fails (for any reason) you will be able to fall back on your alternative supplier that you already have an existing working relationship with.

The most dangerous strategy you can use is to have a single source supplier. This means that although there are many suppliers you can choose from, you choose to get all of your supplies (for a particular product or service) from a single source. You should always have a working back-up plan.

Chachi Flores Chachi Flores


Chachi Flores is a Senior Manager of e-commerce at Peacock Alley. Chachi has extensive experience in digital marketing and e-commerce management and helped Peacock Alley define the luxury bedding industry in America.

“The single most effective way to create a winning supply chain strategy is to…”

Design ahead. Managing your resources in a timely manner is important for meeting customer demands. The most important step in a successful supply chain strategy is to invest in the design of a supply chain securing the correct amount of materials, labor and equipment necessary for completing any given production. The value of an elaborate plan is redeemed when contingency plans gracefully overcome common points of failure.

Misha Kaura Misha Kaura


Misha Kaura is the CEO of Darlinghurst Enterprises.

“As someone running a multimillion dollar company focused almost entirely on supply chain, I think the best thing is to…”

Try to minimize as many touch points as possible and to build it from the ground up. The more you can vertically integrate, the more control you have over quality and the less you have to manage in terms of shipping. I built my factory close to FedEx primarily because they do such a fantastic job of making sure shipments are packed and picked up on time right from our side door. This means that we literally only have to manage our side of the operation — sewing and hanging clothes — and everything else is handled by FedEx. Furthermore, because we have a tight supply chain internationally, we are exclusive with all of our fabric sourcing partners so we get samples and full orders by mail without having to physically fly to trade shows and exhibits.

I’ve built my factory — and my company — in such a way that when I am ready to expand and to shift my focus from direct day-to-day factory operations to more strategic operations, my successor can come into my place and oversee operations and logistics. I record everything I do in my notebook on Google Docs and have also recorded training videos so the next person coming in has a clear understanding of how I have set up everything. I think strategy has to be aggressive with others in the market but simple enough for those inside the company to comprehend. The second people start putting in integral calculus and advanced statistical equations in their strategy manuals, there will be issues for some future manager down the line. Not everyone is a superstar at mathematics and all the basic strategies have to be easy to comprehend — and I say this as a trained industrial engineer and designer who loves mathematics.

Ollie Smith Ollie Smith


Ollie Smith is the CEO of ExpertSure.

“A great way to create a winning supply chain strategy is to…”

Embed sustainability into its operation. By including sustainability as a core strategic component across a supply chain, it will enable a business striving for environmental and social sustainability major competitive advantage, especially with regard to production efficiency, supply management procedure and attractiveness to potential corporate partners and employees alike. It will also enhance related internal processes such as systematic measurement, knowledge management and audit. A more sustainable supply chain is for these reasons — a winning supply chain!

Mark Hampton Mark Hampton

Mark Hampton is the Principal of Supply Chain Synergy Consultants. He has 40 years of experience in hospitality operations, distribution, supply chain and executive management. With an Executive MBA in Strategic Management coupled with real world experience, Mark is able to provide astonishing results to his high profile clientele.

“Start with a strategy, but be practical…”

Go ahead — ask the what if questions about your supply chain. This will help you assess alternatives. But remember that the best supply chain strategy is one you can accomplish. Make it specific, not general; practical, not conceptual. Include elements of the processes, technologies, organizational needs, control philosophy and metrics to analyze along the way. Think through all of the details; it’s simply not enough to say that you want to employ strategic sourcing — to actually implement the strategy, you must specify the components and the suppliers.

Michael Gravier Michael Gravier


Michael Gravier is a Professor of Marketing at Bryant University in Rhode Island.

“Many highly successful companies like Amazon and Walmart have succeeded in supply chain management because…”

They owned the entire data process, and they are investing heavily in the integration component, such as Walmart vertically integrating chicken and dairy farms and Amazon investing in web services. The future will be the sharing of information and supply chain integration across companies. The sharing will result mostly from the continuing massive growth of cloud computing, growth of edge computing such as RFID tags and data gathered near customers (projected to account for 20% of all data in the future) and public-private partnerships developing standardization for blockchain-related technologies that will increase transparency. These technologies will be most important to supply chains of the future that will be characterized by distributed manufacturing and services, vendor managed inventory and strategic location of 3D printing facilities.

Walker Peek Walker Peek


Walker Peek is a Tampa-based entrepreneur. He is the CEO of Commercial Acoustics, a soundproofing and acoustical solutions company.

“The best way to create a winning supply chain strategy is to…”

Map your process, identify bottlenecks and assign relevant KPIs and trigger points. These all need to be highly visible so you can anticipate issues and make adjustments for your business with minimal negative impact.

Alun Rafique Alun Rafique


Alun Rafique is the Co-founder and CEO of MarketDojo.

“The most effective way to create a winning supply chain strategy is to…”

First, generate a progression plan that takes into account the key barriers and potential opportunities within your supply chain whether those challenges are reprioritizing your sourcing pipeline based on criteria such as savings potential, timescales or complexity.

You may also put in place a leadership team that has a mixture of personalities, skills and experience to overcome internal and external
challenges. Or, you could consider implementing new technology solutions that enable more efficient and effective processes for supply chain and procurement professionals.

You should also understand your spend data and spend categorization which would allow you to develop plans for each spend category and allow you to re-define your fundamental supply chain progression strategy. For example, you may find that you spend $X million on machined parts. From the data you’ve collected, you will see which suppliers that this was with and by mapping out the strategic importance of the category and your importance to the supplier; you will be able to do a GAP analysis of where you are and where you want to be for that specific category.

Jason Kay Jason Kay


Jason Kay is the CEO of Retreaver and has been working with telephony systems since 2012 to solve complex problems involved with large scale market attribution.

“The most effective way to create a winning supply chain strategy is to...

Incorporate risk management. Incorporating risk management allows you to constantly check for weak links in your chain. This gives you the ability to quickly mitigate risks as they arise throughout the supply chain. A supply chain that can quickly adapt will be better over the long run.

Daren Samuels Daren Samuels


Daren Samuels is a Practice Director of Operations at Patina. He has extensive manufacturing and supply chain leadership experience having worked at Wilson Perumal & Company, Win Enterprises, Accenture and A.T. Kearney. He has contributed to studies on advanced powertrains, global sourcing and the 2008-09 crisis in the automotive industry.

“A critical and often missing piece of an overall supply chain strategy is…”

People and talent. To win, a manufacturing leader can address this through on-demand talent. Supply chain can consume up to 85% of a company’s revenue, so getting it right is really important. Supply chain organizations are often skilled at selecting good options for organizing a cost-effective supply chain.

The issue that’s often overlooked is talent and organizational capacity for implementing new strategies and course-correcting when the strategy needs to change. I believe that a key part of a successful supply chain strategy is selecting partners to provide additional talent on demand. That talent can help address both capacity (more people for execution) and capability (special know-how) to implement new strategies and make supply chain adjustments.

Most organizations are staffed to manage the day-to-day and they do it pretty well. But then there are surprises. For example, when a supplier’s plant has issues, or a customer changes a requirement or volumes outrun supply capacity, the best strategies can fail for lack of execution. Having a partner to provide surge capacity to get through major disruptions can protect the business — while making sure the supply chain continues to be effectively managed day-to-day.

Greg Githers Greg Githens


Greg Githens is the Author of How to Think Strategically.

“The single and most effective way to create a winning supply chain strategy is to…”

Connect it to a winning business strategy. The goal should be for the business to win, not some functional strategy (marketing, operations or supply chain, for example).

The question, then, for managers of the supply chain function is this: What insights can we provide to the business strategy that gives our business a powerful competitive advantage? A good insight can lead to a winning business strategy. Otherwise, you’re left with parity with competition.

Jennifer Ulrich Jennifer Ulrich


Jennifer Ulrich is a Director at Source One. She is recognized industry-wide as an authority on procurement transformation and category management, Jennifer boasts over a decade of consulting experience. She has successfully led large-scale initiatives for both direct and indirect spend categories in industries.

“Throughout my career, there’s one strategy I’ve employed more than perhaps any other…”

I enter every engagement looking to engage the supply base in a collaborative partnership. No matter what my expectations, I strive to enter each conversation as if I’ll work with that supplier again. That way, I’m better prepared to build a relationship and provide for a win-win arrangement in the long term. Even if they walk away without our client’s business, they shouldn’t believe a conversation with me was a waste of time. Recently, this strategy paid off for our organization in a big way. I negotiated with a supplier on behalf of a client, but the supplier was unable to win the business. Thanks to my relationship building efforts, however, they elected to become a Source One client.

Ed Frazelle Dr. Ed Frazelle


Dr. Ed Frazelle is president and CEO of RightChain Incorporated. He is one of a leading authority on supply chain strategy, technology and operations.

“A supply chain strategy is the answer to the following ten questions…”


1. What is our supply chain mission; and what metrics and targets reflect it?

2. What should our supply chain service policy be?


3. How much inventory should we carry and where?

4. Who should we source and procure from and in what quantity?


5. How should our transportation network be designed and operated?

6. How should our warehouses be designed and operated?


7. What supply chain activities should we outsource and to whom?

8. What supply chain information systems are required to support my supply chain and who should manage them?


9. How should we align and develop our supply chain organization?

10. What supply chain planning program and process should we employ?

Those ten questions serve as the contents of my book titled Supply Chain Strategy, published by McGraw-Hill.

Chris Budd Chris Budd


Chris Budd is the Co-founder of Isolocity, a compliance and supply chain management software expert.

“The single most effective way to create a winning supply management strategy is to…”

Utilize tools that allow you to automate the supply chain. Automation of processes such as shipping and receiving inspections allow users to have real-time data for inventory and failures within the system. It also minimizes the amount of effort it takes to communicate corrective actions from across the facility. You can communicate and request supplier information and link it directly to your orders or products. Less human error will occur in crucial processes, which allows the organization as a whole to save time and money related to issues in the supply chain.