Although often overlooked, middle-market companies are making positive impacts on the economy and the global supply chain.
They are the middle children of the business world, tucked between billion-dollar companies that attract great attention because of their size, and small businesses that grab headlines for their entrepreneurial spirit.
Population trends have vast and wide-ranging impacts, affecting everything from economic patterns to the balance of political power. The ability - and flexibility - to adapt to these shifts, however incremental, will determine a company's degree of success and access to opportunities for many years to come. There is no time like the present to determine what this will likely mean for supply chain management.
An important first step in building a strategic supply management organization is developing solid business-unit relationships. But how many are taking the next steps and asking internal stakeholders pointed, detailed questions about how well the supply management team is meeting their needs?
As supply management organizations strive to extend their influence throughout the company and impact the bottom line with ever fewer resources, some are turning to managed service providers (MSPs) to make the best use of their organizations' time and talents. MSPs, sometimes called consolidators, can be used for certain spend categories, such as energy or telecommunications, that traditionally have been difficult for mid-sized procurement organizations to manage effectively.
Supply management professionals are uniquely positioned to influence a company's environmental sustainability efforts as well as the performance of supply base partners in this area. But where are the standards and metrics?
One of the often overlooked and undervalued components of supplier selection is trying to determine the supplier's long-term potential. Simply stated, it is not very difficult to identify the lowest price option during an RFP process. The key for long-term success is based on analyzing each supplier's potential for the long haul, encompassing areas such as strategic alignment, cultural fit, common delivery centers, industry outlook and social responsibility efforts. The best overall strategic value is not necessarily the lowest cost.
Without a doubt, the economic downturn was difficult on everyone. Significant cutbacks in production left thousands of smaller suppliers struggling to remain in business. In the midst of this bleak scenario, some large manufacturing organizations have opted to share financial expertise, efficiency and lean manufacturing knowledge - and, in some cases, actual capital - with their smaller, highly valued suppliers to pull them from the brink.
Cyber-security breaches at major companies grab headlines as legislatures and regulators at the state, federal and international levels develop "rules of the road" for protecting information, especially consumers' personal data. Supply management professionals should be concerned that their systems and/or employees may be exposing their organizations to data breaches - opening the company to lawsuits, governmental enforcement actions and significant reputation damage.
With ever-changing business challenges such as transportation costs, volatile demand and an evolving customer base, supply management organizations are exploring new and unique ways to use collaboration in their supply chains. One such effort is turning traditional vertical collaboration strategies on their side and may change the way organizations view their supply chain - and their competitors.