As the calendar rolls to May, there is a sense of newness in the air. Spring has come, flowers are budding and appearing, winter coats have disappeared, and for some graduation time is near. One of the favorite graduation gifts is Dr. Seuss’s book entitled, “Oh, The Places You’ll Go.” Often times, especially with college graduates, there’s also a sense of newness as they take their college degree and want to have an immediate impact upon the world.
Recently I was talking to a business leader whose son-in-law was graduating from college with his business degree. The comment from the graduate was that he was willing to start at the bottom and work his way up….the bottom of the board room that is, and working up to CEO in 5 years! And you know what? I hope he’s right. It’s this type of change and challenge that enables businesses to grow and prosper and not get stuck in their “typical” methods and ways of doing business.
One activity that a company often sees as routine and never changing is in their supplier base. As Dr. Seuss writes in the book (as only he can):
You won't lag behind, because you'll have the speed.
You'll pass the whole gang and you'll soon take the lead.
Wherever you fly, you'll be the best of the best.
Wherever you go, you will top all the rest.
Except when you don' t
Because, sometimes, you won't.
Many companies know their immediate suppliers, if for no other reason because they write them checks. Sometimes large and frequent checks. Businesses tend to keep track of those things. But there are many companies that don’t manage their suppliers adequately or at all, putting their business to unanticipated risk. Much like Seuss’s last two lines above, “Except when you don’t; Because, sometimes, you won’t.” This brings up the interesting question of what is a good supplier management system? What does a good one look like? What does it measure? How far should it go?
Joe Torrago, MAMTC Director and Supply Chain Program Manager, recently wrote a blog on the topic of Supply Chain Optimization that you can check out here. As Joe states in the blog post, “Without knowing where it begins, it means you don’t fully know the risks of your supply chain or the constraint in your supply chain. Don’t you think it would be a good idea to know where the risks and constraints are in your supply chain? After all, you don’t want your customers, the other end of your supply chain, to feel the effects of risks and constraints that you didn’t know about.”