A Different Look at “Collaboration” in Supply Chain Management and Logistics
Are we beating “collaboration” to death so people are not listening any longer?
In Supply Chain Management and Logistics, we talk about collaboration very often. But, are we saying the word “collaboration”, maybe too often? We feel that collaboration is lacking between the supplier, warehouse, customer/shipper, the logistics provider and the ultimate customer. So many supply chain and logistics professionals say, “The customer only asks for cost reduction and quick delivery.” There is a better way to a “win-win” partnership through collaboration rather than pounding on the table. Some say it will take more time for people to start collaborating. It is in its infant stages. We are not ready for it. But, we should be….
Let’s look at collaboration differently, using a new word: Harmony.
Why Is Business Harmony Important In Supply Chain Management and Logistics?
Many people are simplifying their lives and the way that they do business. As we evaluate our priorities we are very aware of how important harmony is in our business relationships. Harmony is not to be taken for granted, nor is the great need for outstanding customer service.
The number one factor in feeling comfortable with any supply chain management or logistics provider is customer service beyond your expectations. If good customer service is lacking, it will ultimately chase you away from whatever business altogether. But if you are able to communicate any problems then it may change the decision that you will make. Communication is vital in being in harmony within the supply chain management and logistics arena with a supply chain, logistics provider, supplier or your customer. Goals, service level agreements (SLA), and key performance indicators (KPIs) should be negotiated and resolved so that all parties in harmony are marching to the same sheet of music.
Both the client and service provider have an obligation to meet a need. Basically, your service provider needs you to pay them and you need them to fill a need that your business has. Often times, issues can be dealt with proactively, to keep everything running smoothly. In this case, the business doesn’t have to spend the resources in looking for another service provider, and it helps the service provider do a better job overall.
Top Reason why Business Harmony is Important in Supply Chain Management and Logistics:
- Keeps the lines of communication continuously open. Perhaps assign a representative in your company to be the point person with a representative of each link of the supply chain.
- Harmony creates a team mentality and is a “win-win” partnership.
- Builds mutual respect for all members of the supply chain.
- Encourages personal and professional growth: as you review your service level agreements and key performance indicators, new ideas will evolve.
- We all need mutual support: With this team mentality, we feel like true partners.
- We continue on the road to Continuous Improvement through Harmony
- It is a good idea for the members of the supply chain to have an “open house.” Tour each other’s facilities and let key people ask questions. This cements a solid relationship. New ideas can emerge from these open houses: “Oh, I didn’t know you did this…or….”I can help you with that.”
- Open Houses: Include IT discussions: integration/customization, transportation/TMS issues, import/export, if applicable, reduction in lead time ideas, and extended LEAN initiatives.
- If any VoC or voice of the customer issues are on the table, they are a priority. These issues will improve customer service if implemented.
- The partnership becomes solidified. Trust is being built. Perhaps we can “open our books” for each other, and look at solving our critical issues together.
- Look for solutions: If we are always looking for a solution, then no problem is too big. Look for the solution with continuous, open communication first.
- Expect setbacks and mistakes to happen. Reality will always be there. But, working together, you can learn from any setbacks or mistakes and correct them so they do not happen again in the future. Write Standard Operating Procedures (S.O. P.s) so solutions are on record, or for current or new people to review.
There is a big benefit for everyone in having harmony in business relationships, and especially when it comes to supply chain management and logistics. With harmony, there isn’t a risk of lack of communication and therefore the needs of everyone in the supply chain are met, especially customer needs and wants. A win-win relationship is formed when all parties are willing and able to share respect and appreciation.
One thing that is constant in life is change. Be ready for changes to occur in your supply chain and deal with them as a team. Adjust where need be, to the advantage of all parties.
“If you wish to live in harmony, you must respect every person and, in non-essential matters, yield!”
― Dada J.P. Vaswani