Steven Bowen, CEO of supply chain consultancy Maine Pointe, recently discussed the importance of synchronization in the pandemic context with Josué Muñoz, VP of global supply chain demand & systems at Colgate-Palmolive, and Michael Burnette of the University of Tennessee’s Global Supply Chain Institute.
The Forbes Council podcast interview touched on the topics examined in a recent GSCI/Maine Pointe white paper titled “Supply chain synchronization: Orchestrating a winning strategy,” including supply chain synchronization, digitization, quickly accessing and acting on data, and how the pandemic has accelerated trends that were already in progress.
“Synchronization is when the company defines the core business driver – that thing that drives the most total value for the company– and links that with the physical supply chain, the business processes, and the people systems,” Burnette noted.
A business driver is something that, when it improves, the business sees improved results – and when it degrades, the business sees worse business results. A core driver in the fashion industry could be innovation, while for consumer goods, it might be consumption.
Muñoz said that Colgate-Palmolive started its own synchronization strategy 10 years ago, and that it involves understanding what drives the supply chain, connecting business elements to the chain, and responding holistically to signals from the environment.
“We are on a constant rebalancing,” he added. “We started 10 years ago on this journey of synchronization, but the journey evolves; every 4 to 5 years, we have to step back, look at what we’re doing, see what has changed.”
The pandemic has, of course, caused many companies to work on rebalancing their supply chains – whether that means an expanded group of suppliers, reshoring, or other strategies. Some of these trends were in motion beforehand because of the trade war between the US and China, but the pandemic has certainly accelerated matters.
Muñoz said that Colgate-Palmolive has been constantly rebalancing, though the pandemic has caused heavier swings.
Bowen noted that the pandemic has exposed cracks and vulnerabilities in day-to-day operations – necessitating reviews and redesign to boost supply chain resiliency for the next disruption. This resiliency must be quantified, with capacity re-evaluated and networks created to counter unforeseen events, according to the Maine Pointe CEO.