Supply chain: the humdrum business of shifting widgets

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There is nothing as likely to provoke professionals as seeing their profession belittled, so when the “Financial Times” last week described supply chain as “the humdrum business of shifting widgets from one location to another” (FT 22nd March), I was not surprised to find my phone ringing off the hook with demands from irate readers to “do something about it”.

The gist of the article was that, as a result of the events in Japan, the “non-humdrum world” had just discovered how important supply chain is and how damaging disruption can be.

It’s regrettable that it takes an event as terrible as the Japanese earthquake to alert the world to the importance of supply chain.

While it’s easy to castigate outsiders for their ignorance, it’s also worth asking if supply chain professionals could do more to foster a wider understanding of what the business is all about.

Much of the effort up until now has been to get board level recognition of the critical importance of supply chains in modern business. Perhaps it is time to make the case to the wider world.

After all, I don’ see too many articles in the “Financial Times” that describe the CFO’s role as “the humdrum business of counting numbers”.

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