Following our recent clinic on supply chain hotspots, Sally Vivian provides insight on the outcome and gives five tips for those dealing with managing their hotspots.
What have we learnt from running the hotspot clinic? Not knowing what questions or issues individuals or companies would have, it has been an interesting few weeks! Judging from the variety of questions raised in the clinic and subsequent responses, identifying hotspots in supply chains is a popular topic. Whilst the individual questions posed were quite varied, based on these and some of the other discussion themes on the forum, I have identified some common threads:
1. Be systematic
Whether your organisation is largely office based or directly involved in manufacturing, the process for identifying supply chain hotspots remains conceptually the same. Mapping the supply chain and conducting some form of screening process to understand impacts and prioritise actions are crucial.
During this screening process, a first step is to make sure you understand the footprint of your organisation. At this stage a quick high-level study often proves useful and provides a "reality check".
2. Select your priority targets carefully
It makes sense to focus actions where the biggest impacts occur, but also think about where the biggest opportunities for improvement exist. For example, ask yourself a series of questions:
- What can you control or influence?
- Are there alternative practices or materials available to improve efficiencies and reduce your environmental impact?
3. Know what you are trying to achieve
The criteria that you apply to prioritise areas for action are important. Make sure these, and the boundaries you apply, reflect your desired outcomes. What was right for someone else may not make sense for you, the process and outcomes need to work for your organisation.
4. Get early momentum
Often there are ‘easy wins’ linked to your sphere of control. There is nothing wrong with tackling easy things first. This can help gain internal buy-in from other departments and provide more momentum for other actions.
5. Make sustainability part of the normal business discussion with suppliers
It is essential to maintain open dialogue with your suppliers to achieve mutually beneficial outcomes. The right engagement will help build better and more sustainable long-term relationships. But internal engagement, through enlisting the participation of your procurement department or whoever engages with and manages the contracts of your suppliers, is also critical for actions.
Hopefully this clinic has helped both the observers and those who posed questions, and the advice has been useful. Thank you to all those who responded and participated in this forum. Please feel free to contact me offline if you have any questions or if you’d like to further discuss this subject.
Check out the Q&A in Ask the Expert: Supply Chain Clinic or watch Identifying Social Hotspots in Your Supply Chain: Practical insights.