Issues in the internal and external supply chain don't happen overnight; they unravel over time. While, in theory, that may sound obvious, you may be surprised by how many leaders try to resolve major supply chain issues without getting to the root of the problem.
It was never a problem until it is.
When it becomes one, you can’t seem to get in front of it because it continues to be more and more problematic as the company continues to grow. When new employees come in, current employees shift around, altering processes, and people will find workarounds to solve the issues. Technology solutions can include resources like Excel, Word, Google sheets, or even downloading external applications, which create a Shadow IT problem. Before you know it, every employee is handling the business in their own way, creating inefficiencies. Most of these issues can remain under the radar for decades. They will surface when change is necessary, and the current model is no longer supported. Ideally, getting in front of it before that happens allows us to help you make informed decisions with minimal impact on the business.
Good indicators usually begin as small signs.
There can be a range of signs such as technology breaking down or customer information that isn't consistent. It could be due to human error when manually reporting pertinent information. But if it happens over time, we like to call it a symptom in my business. Many small symptoms contribute to a much larger problem. Eventually, you will find yourself frustrated more often than not when dealing with these “symptoms” like constantly putting out “fires” or spending hours fixing issues on accounts or client inquiries. You’ll find yourself pausing necessary to-do items to process a report or provide someone else with the information they need. At this point, I hope this is the beginning. The difference between you and any other business is understanding something isn't right and investigating how to solve the issue.
As a business leader, it's unrealistic to think these issues, which are now exacerbated by the pandemic, can be solved with a quick fix. I know how frustrating an operational gap is to an emerging business, but the truth is, unless we find the source of the issue, we will never really solve the problem. You must be thinking about all the issues seen and unseen because if there are any issues, they will have direct and indirect effects on the rest of the supply chain. We must evaluate the business as one operating entity.
Identifying the problem
When I talk to clients about our approach, I begin by explaining the operational assessment. I spend quite a bit of time talking about the level of granularity, and why we must spend an enormous amount of time in the discovery process. During the beginning stages, we not only get to know the team but also work to understand the current state of the business. Our strategy is designed to answer questions you have and questions you didn’t even know to ask. What we uncover during the discovery helps our clients make impactful changes that lead to permanent solutions.
About the author:
Cornerstone Paradigm Consulting, LLC is an industry-agnostic global business operations consulting firm, going beyond the symptoms to get to the root cause of your business issues.