"Hans Ketterings of Yellowstar, and Hans Hulsinga, associated with the UC Group as a Logistics & Supply Chain professional, exchange emails about logistics topics that they both find interesting."
Dear Hans K.,
Let's go back to basics for a bit. Chain management, I greatly dislike the phrase and the way in which it is used and misused. Has anyone ever run into a chain manager at a birthday party? ‘Supply chain’ has a much better ring to it!
And what does it actually mean? In my opinion, it relates to managing the entire route from supplier to customer in order to get the product there in the most efficient manner possible. Efficient here among other things comprises costs, transparency, delivery when the customer wants it and, in conclusion, quality.
Chain management affects everyone who trades something. But take note, chain management parties! For God's sake, don't start selling your solution to just anyone. As someone on the ‘receiving’ end, I would often have more questions after a sales conversation with such a chain management club than prior to it. Much too complex, without an applicable solution and therefore impossible to justify internally. Carefully analyse your potential customer before starting the conversation and do not show up with a PowerPoint with an endless series of modules. Identify lines of approach and make sure that you present a targeted solution that corresponds with the phase that the company is in. That may be chain management.
Dear Hans H.,
Chain management often proves to be an illusion. Through ‘chain management’, dominant chain parties try to forcibly get a grip on information flows between parties and ultimately on those parties themselves. But how wonderful it would be if these dominant parties would start working on making the chain self-reliant. That is exciting, because mistrust and pressuring must make way for trust and letting go. However, this could definitely be successful. Everyone ultimately serves the same interest: making the chain predictable and going to work with pleasure.
Think of it as the topper training in any random year-6 primary school class. As a child, you stand up and let yourself fall back without hesitation because you blindly trust that your classmates will catch you.
Dominant chain parties could take the lead in this by establishing a chain platform that allows everyone to connect and share data. In my experience, if everyone has timely insight into when and where irregularities arise, they will also solve them. Unwillingness is never a factor here; professionals do not like to let things go wrong. Escalations will always exist and the challenge here is to not give problems the space to grow larger. Data is most reliable when it is registered as close to the source as possible. Accounting-like ERP applications fall short in this respect. They always capture reality after the fact. Logistical execution systems are good at this though. They allow you to share current and reliable data in the chain.
Social inclusion is a second step. Nowadays, all chain parties are able to connect via the internet. In this way, it is also possible to for example help farmers in Vietnam choose the best day to harvest cashew nuts and select the cheapest transport options that correspond with the planned sales promotions of retailers in the Netherlands. The chain's problem-solving capacity is greater when everyone participates.
As a result of transparency and inclusion, logistics management will change in the coming years. Chain monitoring focuses on preventing mistakes and no longer on learning from mistakes already made. Prevention rather than cure. That is the subtle distinction between quality control and quality assurance that the market is waiting for. Welcome to the new world of chain management, with satisfied customers and more enjoyable work.