Supply Chain Performance

Webinar Recap: 3 Things Manufacturers Should Focus On to Overcome Supply Chain Disruptions in 2023

If the past three years have taught us anything, it’s that regular disruptions are now part of everyday life for manufacturers and supply chain teams. Direct materials buying teams face these challenges every day as they navigate supplier communication, purchase order (PO) processes, and data accuracy/visibility.

In our recent webinar, SourceDay’s CEO Tom Kieley and CMO Sarah Scudder sat down with a distinguished panel of experts to talk about these disruptions and how to protect revenue, cash flow, and employee burnout. 

Let’s see what the experts had to say!

Revenue Protection

Alex Mesanza, Direct of Global Supply Management at Corning

Revenue protection means suppliers understand what the business is trying to accomplish, and they are fully committed to the business’s success in their industries. 

To get there, establish two-way communication with suppliers. Share long-range supply and demand forecasts, and make sure suppliers communicate their capacity and capabilities over time. As issues arise, stay cool under pressure. Make sure you have multiple supply sources and bring them closer to the point of consumption in the event transportation disruptions occur. Establish relationships deeper in the supply chain—with supplier’s suppliers and with multiple points of contact in your organization. All of this serves to build robust working relationships so you are prepared when inevitable challenges arise.

Stephanie Shrader, Senior Director of Procurement at Light & Wonder

Develop strong supplier relationships. It’s easy to fall into a transactional workflow with suppliers, but that’s not enough. Strong relationships could be the difference between getting a needed part that’s difficult to find or being last in line when you face a shortage.

Bi-weekly or monthly meetings with suppliers are a simple way to touch base and make sure everything is running smoothly. Invest in a solution that provides real-time supplier scorecards. Develop strong best practices within your ERP system so you get the information and visibility you need. In the end, this is all about being proactive vs. reactive so you can protect the purchase of parts and materials and be prepared to address challenges instead of rushing to catch up after the fact.

MVK, Chief Procurement Officer at Coupa

Focus on three aspects: people, process, and technology. 

First, people. Bring internal and external stakeholders together, and work to be the middle-person between them. Understand demand patterns with your internal stakeholders and marry that with what is possible in the external market. Bridge the internal and external.

Next, process.You must establish processes that give you an understanding of what options you have, what the downstream ramifications are, how quickly you can make changes, and what all of that means for business continuity. Procurement is much more than running RFPs and getting good rates on parts. 

Finally, today’s technology makes it possible for procurement to drive a competitive edge through strategic work. Invest in the technology to bring procurement closer to the heart of the company.

Tom Kieley, CEO at SourceDay

The number one theme I hear week-over-week is that companies can’t trust their ERP and MRP data. They don’t know what’s coming from suppliers or partners, and their demand planning suffers. Invest in technology that gives better trust and collaboration through accountability and allows multi-sourcing very quickly when needed. Data quality is paramount to forecasting and decision-making. Don’t neglect it.

Cash Flow Protection

Alex Mesanza, Direct of Global Supply Management at Corning

First, focus on deep relationships with suppliers. Identify your truly strategic suppliers and dedicate extra time to them. Second, manage inventory in such a way that you have just enough to cover operations, but not so much that you end up with obsolete inventory that ties up cash for months or even years. You must be able to negotiate with suppliers on payment terms, vendor managed inventory, payment terms, or consignment deals. All of these will have a huge impact on cash flow.

MVK, Chief Procurement Officer at Coupa

Inventory is key. Demand is coming down in today’s environment and as a result, many companies are holding high levels of inventory. Many retailers are holding double or even triple the inventory they would normally carry, which ties up cash. Are there other outlets you could potentially sell inventory? Can orders be pushed out? Inventory levels are also tied to data quality. 

Stephanie Shrader, Senior Director of Procurement at Light & Wonder

Without data integrity, you are in so much trouble. It’s the biggest roadblock to any organization’s operational side. You need visibility. You need a way for buyers to relate to the suppliers and vice versa without relying on emails. 

If your people aren’t trained to enter data correctly, if there aren’t well-adapted processes that really work for all departments like planning, operations, scheduling, order management, sourcing, and finance, then you should expect data errors and ordering mistakes. Technology makes it possible for all of this data to be fed directly into your ERP and MRP so that procurement knows exactly what to order, how much, from whom, and when.

Employee Burnout

Alex Mesanza, Direct of Global Supply Management at Corning

At the end of the day, protecting your most valuable assets—your people—should be your number one priority. You need individuals who are not only talented and know the procurement space, but who also have soft skills like managing through challenges, shifting priorities when needed, etc. If you lose these folks to burnout, you’re going to be in trouble. Invite feedback and listen carefully to their daily challenges, then take steps to seriously address them. Today’s technology can reduce daily PO workloads by 30% for most buyers, so if the workload is reaching burnout levels, look into giving them new tools to ease the pressure.

Make sure to communicate openly and clearly about why decisions are being made and where they fit in the bigger picture. When employees know how their efforts contribute and how important and valuable they are to the company, they will stay connected.

MVK, Chief Procurement Officer at Coupa

Unless you have the right technology, you are going to struggle to find talent. Nobody wants to be stuck in Excel, nobody wants to be stuck in the ERP, nobody wants to be stuck in some antiquated old technology. Top talent expects companies to have modern-day infrastructure, modern-day technology.

Stephanie Shrader, Senior Director of Procurement at Light & Wonder

People don’t quit because of the work they have to do or how much. People quit because of who is leading (or not leading) them, and they stay for the same reasons. They stay because they know you have their back, or you take the next step for them, or you help them get into the role or department they want to work in. Losing even one employee can be highly detrimental to a team, and you definitely don’t have the time or money to spend on turnover and training.

If you don’t care about and serve the people who work with you, regardless of position or department, then you’re in the wrong job. If you aren’t invested in making their lives better in the amount of time you’re together every day, then you may as well go find an independent contractor position where you can focus only on yourself. This is all about motivating, inspiring, and leading.

SourceDay provides automation, collaboration, and data accuracy for direct materials supply chains and their suppliers. Ready to learn how you can reduce your buyers’ daily PO workloads by 30%? Drop us a line here and we’ll give you a look.