Knowing when to apply change in the supply chain

01 December 2017

When a company is performing well and there is nothing obviously wrong with the supply chain model offered, the question is: should we change for change’s sake?

No one should dispute making organisational changes when the service or business environment demands it. However, change for its own sake often provokes scepticism.   

Communication and collaboration can be the victims of organisational stability. However, success of the supply chain is inextricably linked to its performance.

Therefore, at times, restructuring encourages people to form new networks and makes the organisation more creative as a whole.  But how do we know when to change? Do our managers know if there is anything wrong with our business model? Should we continue with our existing service, or do we need to contemplate some lifestyle changes?   

As was recently reported in the NZ Herald by Michael Barnett of the Auckland Chamber of Commerce: “If NZ is rising into the 21st century with vision but without action it is a daydream, whereas action without vision is a nightmare. This sums up Auckland’s and the nations dilemma.”   

Therefore, we should always consider what are our best signs of success and growth. One of the most important factors must be driving profitability based on customer service and satisfaction; this is all dependent on the supply chain.

Our customers must be a primary focus when considering supply chain strategy and performance management. Success combined with cost effectiveness can be gained by improving, streamlining and optimising the supply chain. In this regard, we must acknowledge sustainability issues. Applying sustainability to the supply chain has become the subject of heated debat.

The concerns of transport by road, sea or air is their emission of toxic gases into the atmosphere. We cannot underestimate the realities of global warming when we are crafting our supply chain management strategies.

Change for the sake of change may not be the best strategy whenever new executives come into an organisation. Nevertheless, if their platform for change is in more mature supply chain relationships, business improvement often focuses on the collaboration and integration between organisations rather than on internal improvements.

We therefore should first consider the opportunity to view the world through a broad range of lenses for different sectors, industries and modes; seek some different opportunities for success; and make certain that we are all singing from the same hymn sheet.

Brian Stocking
Associate Director
Centre of Supply Chain Management
The University of Auckland Business School