Understanding the impacts of changes to the supply chain on both the organization and the stakeholder’s standpoint is a crucial portion of the planning stage for any project. While it may seem that a small forecasting model adjustment or different warehousing layout change might appear to have minimal impact throughout the organization, that is most likely not that case. We often have tendencies to focus only on how a change will affect the immediate group and occasionally some of the secondary groups. For example, changing the warehouse layout may have a long-term improvement on pick efficiency, but will there be short-term setbacks of employees learning the new system? If this is the case, perhaps a secondary impact will be a delay in how long trucks are waiting to be loading. That is possible, but what a lot of groups forget to think about is who else that delay could impact. There is potential for that one change to then impact the end customer deliverable and then the sales team having to explain why a shipment was late. Many of these “issues” could become opportunities if a “heads-up” to the sales team about the change and explanation of the long-term benefits of the project were given. This can then better prepare them to deal with the bumps and bruises of a new process, as well as help them pass that information to their customers if needed. These are just some of the reasons why ensuring strong stakeholder communication within supply chains is so important.
Stakeholder communication plans should be part of every project’s initial focus. This is an opportunity to not only communicate better with external groups, but also brainstorm solutions and help teach other groups about the current state process and why it needs addressed. As supply chain professionals, we are uniquely situated to understand the end-to-end process of getting a product to the customer’s door. It is a responsibility of the supply chain to help educate other areas of the business and help identify key areas for improvement. The supply chain is able to make a great deal of change that can ripple through the organization for increasing benefits. I have personally seen small changes within the planning process greatly reduce waste—stabilize production, reduce inventories, and increase customer on-time in-full delivery (OTIF).
One key to success for these business developments is to foster strong communication within groups of professionals regardless of their familiarity with one another. This is a great opportunity for the team to demonstrate leadership by example and involve all the players that may not always be involved with a chance to weigh-in on the matter. This can help build stronger teamwork and new innovation within a company as well as improve the overall sense of communication throughout the organization. As far as externally, there is a really great opportunity to work closely with suppliers or customers to determine if there are common issues or creative solutions to problems that would benefit both parties.