Relay Team Speed

In track and field, most people differentiate the sprinters versus the distance runners.  Most references in business or in life are the same, we always assign the individual to either be planning for the long haul or they are only concerned with now.

 

What if I told you that in order to speed up your supply chain, it's more like a relay than either reference above?

 

The supply chain is end to end.  It's everything from business intelligence to the plan itself, the schedule, the order, the execution, stock transfer, storage, the inventory turn, shipment to customer, and so forth.

 

Agility requires you to be connected end to end.  Typical companies aren't connected enough to have all functions on the same page.  Without each function moving quickly and handing off the baton to the next, problems exist in the supply chain.

 

Do you carry extra inventory because you don't solve your schedule adherence problems?  How long does a production line deficiency go unrepaired and does inventory linger?  Do you carry extra inventory because it's easier than finding a model for your item level forecast that works?  Does your business have too many records for your planners to manage and you carry waste and excess inventory to avoid the effort of investing in an improved system? How many of you have opened another warehouse to get more space to carry more inventory rather than to evaluate what would be required to take inventory out of your supply chain in the first place?

 

In most companies, those questions above fester because of laziness and a lack of continuity.  One function isn't moving quickly in the right direction and executing a clean handoff to the next function.

 

In Lean methodology, the first rule of Kanban is to never pass a defect downstream.  Stop the line, fix your problem, and start the flow up again.  If you're going to get faster, you have to have KPIs at each stage of the supply chain and the broader teams have to be doing their part to minimize defects flowing down.

 

If you drop the baton, you'll lose the race.  Build the best relay team.  Achieve the best time.  Win the race.  Your competition will be jealous when your team leaves them in your dust!