Ouch! Did I touch a nerve there? I think I did judging by the reaction but a good debate is always worth having. I have been challenged to expand on my top ten moans and explain precisely what I mean and why the criticism is not always fair. Here goes then!
- They are always late with Innovations.
Networks are always notoriously tight and once commitments have been given to customers the launch dates become cast in stone. The problem arises when the artworks are not in place in time or the language translation on a pack is not quite right. Inevitably this delays the arrival of the product while the launch date stands.
- They lose sales as they do not have the right stock in the right place.
Supply Chain people do not guess what stock should be in place. Stocks are (or should be) placed against an educated forecast based on knowledge of market demand. While this is a joint responsibility nobody should know a customer demand signal better than the Sales and Marketing teams. Forecasting in FMCG is usually poor.
- The first answer is always “no”.
Maybe because the best answer is “no”! I have seen many examples where Supply Chain people have succumbed to pressure and agreed to a change in plan and then they have lived to regret the decision.
- They can never cope at month-end; not enough trucks and time.
Well, how about not pushing 3 weeks of sales in the last week to chase your bonus? No warehouse, transport and logistics system can cope with huge month end peaks as seen in some FMCG companies. Do consumers suddenly buy more products at the end of the month, no!
- Why do they hold so much stock?
The stock was ordered for a reason. Sometimes launch quantities are grossly over forecasted and stock cover for several months has to be stored somewhere. Promotions that do not go as planned sit in warehouses gathering dust and then there are customer returns. Seldom agreed in a contract, customer returns are always tolerated by Sales without regard for the impact on the business.
- Repacks and co-packs are always delayed.
See point 2. If the number of promotional packs was reduced the Supply Chain might stand a better chance of providing the right stock. Have you seen how many promotions compete in different channels and even in the same store?
- They stopped me getting a bonus this month.
Tough! Invariably nobody else except Sales people benefits from sales bonuses (now, there’s a thought!). The motivation to secure a bonus causes disruption in even the best run companies. “If sales are good it’s because of me. If sales are bad then it must be someone else’s fault”.
- They are a huge cost and what do we get for it?
Try working without a Supply Chain and see what happens. Better still why not move some Sales and Marketing colleagues into SC for a while to see how “easy” life is. Sales and Marketing colleagues always appear to get the higher salaries the fast track promotions. Can you imagine a Salesman working in SC helping to generate a bonus for someone else?
- The SC people are just not good enough, they don’t understand.
Indeed, nobody is perfect. Many years ago SC was not seen as a decent career path but not now. Professional qualifications are now available in SC, e.g. APICS and increasingly blue-chip companies are funding training towards such qualification. If you think they do not understand then pop along too an S&OP meeting and help them understand.
- Why do they insist on this Supply Chain S&OP nonsense?
I won’t even answer that question. Anyone who thinks S&OP is still a Supply Chain problem is working for a company that is going nowhere fast.
I feel much better after that!