Keep it simple and Stick to basics
This time I am going to share something that I have observed over a period of years working in industry and now as a consultant in supply chain domain. And, it is not based on just one or two experiences, but something that I have really seen at many occasions. I am sure, most of us would have experienced it too, that business users don’t need and talk those ‘big and heavy’ words or jargons. On the contrary, they look out for some simple solutions to take care of their business problems. The problems could be and in fact, are multi-dimensional and fairly complex but what they need is a ‘simple and basic’ solution that works fine for their set of constraints.
In my opinion, lot of times, people tend to talk in air without actually understanding issues that the client is facing, and use such heavy jargons as if that’s one quick pill that will solve all the problems. I personally feel, that we should be extremely careful and cautious of ‘just’ talking jargons; I am sure if we just stick to our basics, it will be more than enough for most of the problems that people face in business. Let me share few instances that made me felt so…
Till very recently, I was working on an assignment with one of our client which is a leading global organization in its industry, much ahead of its peers consecutively for so many years. The client is running an organization-wide global supply planning program to standardize its various processes that are fairly local in nature, and build a strong alignment with other critical stakeholder functions such as Demand planning on one end and Sourcing on the other. As it sounds, scale of the program is really big covering almost all the business units, product portfolio and geographies it operates in. And therefore, when I interacted with the business community of this organization, I was expecting to hear and use all those ‘heavy’ jargons such as supply chain agility, responsiveness, collaboration with partners, supply chain visibility, performance management, global data synchronization and what not… But when I heard them and had detailed discussions to understand their problems and issues, I realized that I was actually wrong. Even though the organizations grow bigger and bigger, the business issues stay well grounded and contextual in nature, with each client having its own way of working around a set of problems and constraints. Therefore, in my opinion, it is very important that the language we talk is well understood by our clients, and that to me will happen only when we stick to basics and provide solutions that are simple.
I will not get into further details but I would just like to provide few examples here to convey my point of view. For instance, you may have heard and talked too much about ‘supplier collaboration’ but I don’t think a business user is going to share set of issues that he or she is facing in that language. The issues could be related to may be, what all information we need to publish to suppliers? can we build the capability to publish only a selected set of information to only a selected set of suppliers? what is the most user-friendly format that can be designed to capture all the information? how do we set the process and timeline around locking a supplier response etc etc. Now handling such specific business issues is far different than you can imagine when you talk about ‘supplier collaboration’.
Another interesting example could be about ‘supply chain agility’ – I don’t think you are going to hear business users talking about having an agile supply chain. What most likely you will hear is (from a supply planning perspective): how quickly can I do a rough cut capacity analysis on products for which I have received a big customer order? how quickly can I do MRP run, cut processing time for breakdown and generate component level forecast? how do I build the capability to identify products for which I have component shortfall etc etc…
So, no doubt, it is good to appreciate all those ‘great’ words. But in reality, for the business issues that a client has been facing day in and day out, I feel one should definitely stay grounded, stick to basics and keep things simple. Please feel free to comment and contribute; your ideas and experiences are welcome to enrich our opinions on this subject.