Change, not cost, should be the focus

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We all have a natural reluctance to change – what has served us well in the past will do well again in the future. It’s difficult to embrace and it’s hard to engage teams in orchestrating change as inevitably it involves processes that are unfamiliar, untested and above all else new.

However, as we are reminded in this 200th anniversary year of the birth of Darwin, “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

Faced with the most challenging economic conditions for many years companies are, perhaps unsurprisingly, preoccupied with cost containment. But cost cutting alone will not be sufficient to ensure survival; it will be the organisations that adapt fastest to the new economy that will win out. And that means being innovative and agile.

When times are good it is easy to allow poor processes to continue unaltered, the focus is on growth. When times are harder, those failings need to be addressed. But, importantly, it is the customer that has to be kept squarely in mind.

According to the findings of a new report from IBM “The smarter supply chain of the future”, increasing customer demands were a major issue with two out of three companies struggling to identify customer needs accurately. And the study found that while 63 per cent invited supplier input into their supply chain planning, only 53 per cent included customer input.

In many ways the present climate, albeit uncomfortable, may present the opportunity to implement change that best aligns supply chain performance with customer expectations. But it will take an agile organisation that is capable of embracing change, with a clear understanding of the customer and 20/20 vision across the supply chain to achieve a result best suited to its business environment and one fit for survival.

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