This week I had the opportunity to speak with hundreds of people at Dreamforce 2012. I was surprised at the responses we received when we asked if they had any supply chain needs, most commented that their business did not have a supply chain. According to everyone’s favorite online resource, Wikipedia, “A supply chain is a system of organizations, people, technology, activities, information and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer.” Customers can be internal or external and therefore every business has a supply chain of some type. Supply chain touches every part of a business and if a supply chain is inefficient, the business and consumer suffer.
Some businesses have complex supply chains and others are fairly straightforward. An example of a complex supply chain would be that of a Value Added Reseller. They sell goods and services. The goods they sell can either be from inventory or ordered from a supplier catalog. Goods can be drop shipped to multiple sites and all this needs to be managed to ensure profitability. An Example of a simple supply chain would be that of a procurement department in any company: employees ( internal customer) request supplies, equipment, etc. Buyers need to source the best pricing/service and make sure the item is approved by a hierarchy in an effort to manage the company spend. Somewhere along the line people began equating supply chain with the shipment of goods.
An efficient supply chain can reduce organizational spend, increase profitability and improve consumer satisfaction. If more businesses and their employees were aware of the importance of the supply chain and focused on creating a more efficient and transparent supply chain, I think they would be much more successful. The supply chain is exactly that ‘A Chain” and if the chain is broken, it affects everyone.