In June of 2018, I wrote a blog explaining what Supply Chain was What is Supply Chain? • Profit Point (profitpt.com). Thanks to the COVID-19 pandemic, I thought that I would never have to explain what a supply chain was again. The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), toilet paper, chips and vaccine shortages and distributions issues gave everyone in the world an education about global supply chains. Imagine my dismay when I saw the Lake Superior State University’s 2022 list of banished words and “supply chain” was on it.
The Lake Superior State University 2022 Banished Words List
The Banished Words List is an annual release from Lake Superior State University of based on a crowd-sourced list of most misused, overused, and useless words on the last day of every year. Apparently, this is a tradition that dates back to 1976 with the first banished word (phrase) being “at this point in time”. Among the latest list where “supply chain” was deemed a banished word (phrase) were “Wait, what?” and “You’re on mute”.
Don’t Blame the Supply Chain for Low Inventory Levels
Wait..what? How did we get here so fast? (Asking for a friend.) I believe some companies are now using “supply chain” as an excuse for their failures to plan, schedule and manufacture their products. The groups holding onto MS Excel spreadsheets (see blog by John Cutler) with limited access or visibility throughout the organization, are struggling to plan and replan and adjust to the new normal that we find ourselves in (i.e. lead times on raw materials changing daily or even multiple times per day).
Not to worry. Advanced planning and scheduling tools to the rescue! A lot of these companies already have the tools in place but the adoption rate has been low. Now is the time to get those systems adopted and get the data that feeds those advanced tools cleansed. I’m going to be spending the next several months helping one of my clients to do deep dives on their data and clean up systems that they have been using for decades.
Somehow, with turn over and poor job transitions and training the data is in bad shape. I will help them clean their data and put policies in place to maintain the data on an on-going basis. It’s going to be about 4 – 5 weeks of work for each site but at the end of the day the time spent will be worth it. Instead of fighting the tool because you inputted bad data, the schedulers will have a tool that helps to give them quick answers to what if questions that schedulers face every day sometimes multiple times per day.
So, How did “Supply Chain” Get on the Banished List?
Circling back to the original question on how the term supply chain got on the banned list less than 2 years since everyone learned what it meant and how it works, there are legitimate issues in the global supply chain that have been exposed and need to be corrected.
If companies have good tools in place and are using data that is accurate, they should be able to get back to normal inventory levels soon. That being said, deep dives are required to get to the root cause of the supply chain issues that each company is facing. Supply Chain professionals within companies and consultants like myself need to get on Zoom, Teams, Webex or whatever your preferred teleconference system is, and get your teams/clients motivated to solve the easy to solve supply chain problems…just make sure you’re not on mute.