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Supply Chain Challenges, Freight Transportation

Collaboration? Yes.

Alex Stark | February 13, 2013


I recently returned to the cold and snowy northeast from an industry event in Florida.  The main topic (and it seems like it is the main topic at all these events) is collaboration.  More specifically, how goals in conflict hinder collaboration efforts between manufacturers and retailers.

The opening remarks were delivered by Rick Blasgen, President and CEO of the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP).  Rick provided a global look at our industry and stated that for collaboration to truly gain traction, all parties need to get together and put everything on the table.  All parties need to understand their partners' goals and incentives.

Couldn't agree more.  This misalignment of supply chain goals is certainly the biggest culprit to achieving collaborative nirvana.  We all are aware that the goal of supply chain management is to reduce organizational inefficiencies.  Basically, make/distribute the right product, at the right time, to the right location, at a minimum cost while maintaining a desired level of service.  Simple, right?  However, years of the traditional ways of compensation and benefits, processes, and distribution channels inhibit the full scale adaptation of the collaborative movement.

Now, that's not to say it's not happening.  There are pockets of successful collaboration, and that is a good sign for our industry.  It's difficult and requires deliberate planning.  It's easy to dismiss collaboration as a buzzword – overused and under delivering.  Yet, I believe that if we keep talking about it, sharing success stories and moving forward, we'll start to see a fundamental shift in the way we operate our supply chains.

While I was traveling, the groundhog didn't see his shadow – so spring is around the corner.