The challenges presented by a implementing a lean supply chain

Running a lean supply chain part two: supply chain solutions

A truly lean, optimised supply chain will be amenable to flow modelling, which in turn should produce shorter lead times, reduced inventory (and the consequent improvement in working capital numbers), and lower waste all along the supply chain. Your supply chain management team should be looking at the chain systemically, looking for improvements that can be made at any point and not just within your department or even within your organisation. Collaboration with all of your supply partners will be required for a full analysis, so you will first have to get a real, meaningful buy-in from all of them on the process.

So how can you achieve a lean supply chain

You will need to develop a deep, detailed understanding of the purpose of each link on the supply chain, and the business challenges they face. Visual modelling can be helpful here.

One of the most challenging tasks will be building consensus and leadership alignment for just what this optimised supply chain will look like. True consensus, a common vision of what you collectively have and what you are actively working towards is vital to improved performance. This will be a delicate balance.

Look for fast and easy victories at first. Even small successes build optimism for a complicated process, and the goodwill of the stakeholders is vital to your eventual success. Make sure the more reluctant partners gain sooner rather than later.

Develop your own people, and integrate them into the lean supply chain process. Never stop working to understand the ‘total cost of fulfilment’ as your collective processes change, and implement these models as tools in your supply chain management processes.

90% of the challenges you face will be political ones. A false and cynical consensus will be worse than no consensus at all, because time and resources will be spent by the partners or departments who have y bought in to the process. You need to truly commit to a new way of doing business before attempting to implement a lean supply chain, or you will inevitably fail.





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