Winning supply chain strategies

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“In Italy for thirty years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, bloodshed—but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance,” says Orson Welles in The Third Man. “In Switzerland they had brotherly love, 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock.”

This came to mind as I was writing my speech for this year’s European Supply Chain Excellence Awards ceremony.

Looking back over some of the key themes of the past year, I was struck quite forcefully by the fact that business conditions have been tougher than most people expected. Time and again during the year, I found myself writing about strategies for reducing costs, improving supply chain resilience and the need to manage risk.

And a study has just come out suggesting that a combination of natural disasters, changing consumer demands and economic uncertainty have led many organisations to conclude that their supply chain operations are no longer fit for purpose.

It argues that while a radical overhaul is necessary to improve performance, many UK organisations are adopting short-term tactics in the hope it keeps their supply chain ticking over.

These are valid points. But we should not lose sight of the tremendous achievements of supply chain professionals over the past year.

Sitting on the Awards judging panel, it was very clear to me that in these tough conditions many companies have indeed been driving forward supply chain performance and efficiency.

And there is also evidence of organisations rethinking their supply chain strategies and coming up with innovative approaches to old problems.

With the European Supply Chain Excellence Awards, we have always made it our mission to seek out and showcase best practice – encouraging companies to be proactive in developing their supply chains.

And that is exactly what we saw in 2012. Congratulations to all the winners.

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