• Sunday, April 14, 2024
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How to map your supply chain

UN Global Compact Network partners Dangote Group

Supply chain mapping is the visualisation and connectivity of your multi-tier supplier network. From raw material to finished goods, it encompasses every process in your cash-to-cash conversion cycle.

It is your backbone for driving outcomes, allowing you to detangle the networks within your networks, gain visibility, and push for transparency. It helps you to recognise information gaps, locate high-risk points of failure as well as areas for opportunity and covers areas such as logistical issues, availability of supply, financial, geopolitical complexities, quality, and regulatory compliance. And can help drive initiatives such as sustainability strategies and social responsibility programs. Without supply chain mapping, it will be nearly impossible to have visibility and some level of transparency in a complex geopolitical world that we have of late. It is a basic and mandatory tool that every business must have.

The more buy-in you get from your suppliers, the more you’ll be able to achieve. Make sure to include the right people and give them a good view of what it is you, and they have to gain from supply chain mapping

Today, there are many supply chain mapping solutions available. Which is best suited for your business will be dependent on the complexities of your supply chain, your goals, and your budget. For single-tier domestic supply chains simply looking to increase visibility and highlight vulnerabilities, process-driven methodologies such as Supply-Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) may suffice. For more multi-tier, global supply chains looking for real-time action informing data, there are many cloud-based solutions. And then there are companies like UPS Customer Solutions who offer supply chain mapping services.

Read also: Ukraine war furthering supply disruptions

Although there is no supply chain mapping rubric that is suitable for every business, or budget, we’ve listed a few first steps to get you on your way.

First steps
● Establish a list of stakeholders you should include in the project. Remember that your mapping the entire supply chain, from the cradle to the grave, as well as covering different areas of business such as quality and finance.

● Educate stakeholders on what supply chain is, what the business has to gain, and the implications for each department. Let them know what would be expected of them, as well as what they have to gain and push for buy-in (and budget allowance!)

● Source possible solutions, get an idea of the options you think may be best suited for your business. Questions to ask yourself: How many tiers do you need visibility on? Domestic or global? What would you and your stakeholders like to accomplish?

● Gather estimates on cost, resources required, timelines and project scope

● Once you establish stakeholder buy-in, hold a whiteboard meeting, and do some information mining. Remember that the goal is to visualise your supply chain, so map, whether on a whiteboard, a pad of paper, or on your laptop.

Here are a few key questions you should be asking:

● What supplies are most critical to your continuity of business?

● What would you like ongoing, maybe even real-time visibility on?

● What are your growth plans, and how will they impact your business? Do you expect to be shipping to or from a new area? Will volumes increase significantly on a certain raw material? Are you expecting a new customer with new quality or regulatory requirements you haven’t handled before?

● Where do you foresee your vulnerabilities to be?

● Who are your major players, and who are you supporting?

● Where do you foresee roadblocks?

● What don’t you know?

Supplier management

The supply chain mapping process can be a great opportunity for relationship strengthening collaborative efforts, but it’s important to establish this from the onset. As the project can take a significant amount of resources, it’s imperative you help suppliers see what’s in it for them. Which is the same as what’s in it for you, visibility and resiliency in their supply chain.

The more buy-in you get from your suppliers, the more you’ll be able to achieve. Make sure to include the right people and give them a good view of what it is you, and they have to gain from supply chain mapping. Some of your initiatives may require higher-level management to get involved, as there may be non-disclosure policies or agreements that will need to be discussed. As there may be some reluctancy to share information, suppliers should be made aware that they can maintain confidentiality and control who has access to the information they supply.

One of the main benefits to suppliers is that they may access their own risks and vulnerabilities and gain visibility and resiliency themselves. And of course, your wins are always there wins, be clear about the pressures you are facing as well as your goals and how you think supply chain mapping will improve your competitiveness.

As businesses adapt to our ever-changing world, so should our supply chains. Meeting the demands of today’s consumers requires the adaptability and flexibility of a master yogi. Those who learn to wield new tools will aim farther, go faster, and reach their targets.