These days, there’s a lot of requirements for supply chain success. Even a supply chain that is carefully architected, supported by the best technology, and managed using the most modern (collaborative) process is not guaranteed to succeed. But whether the supply chain is in the public sector or the private sector, there is one fundamental requirement of success that does not change: talent.
I was reminded of this when reading a recent post over on the HBR blogs about the intelligence challenge where the authors, who were all Marine Corps Intelligence Officers in Iraq who now advise clients through the Mayflower Strategy Group, noted that the way ahead, for those who want success in the public sector and the military, is to emulate the lessons learned from the recent slim-downs in the private sector where the winning organizations were those that spent money on obtaining best-in-class collaboration tools and top talent to deploy them.
The reality is that there is no one (network) architecture, technology, or process that will guarantee success in today’s global supply chain that is wrought with risk from end to end. That means an organization’s best chance of success is having top talent in place who can quickly react to unpredictable occurrences and prevent minor hiccups from becoming major disruptions. A good supply chain runs on good people, so make sure you have some. And be sure to give them the best tools and training available, as they can never be over prepared.
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Robert Rudzki, a regular contributor to Sourcing Innovation, recently edited a great two-part series on the nature of energy as a purchased item (Part I and Part II) by Ted Eichenlaub over on the Supply Chain Management Review that should be added to your reading list if energy is a reasonably significant cost of your operations, as the price of energy is only going to increase in years to come.
In these pieces, Ted, who is a senior advisor in the energy practice at Greybeard Advisors, elaborates on the increasing complexity of energy buys in today’s Procurement environment as the commodity cost of energy is only one part of the total cost of energy to the end-user.
Some important points to keep in mind are:
- Price and Volume
Energy is expensive and its price is volatile. In order to take advantage of price volatility, the buyer must know what price will achieve the desired cost ledger performance, the volume requirements, and and the nature of the volume.
Hedging can be used to reduce price volatility, but it can also increase price volatility if the hedges are not made by an expert.
- Credit Worthiness
A supplier may be unwilling to grant a major long-term contract with price that is very likely to below the price it could command in a month or two if it thinks there is a good chance that the buyer might not be around to utilize the full volume of energy that the buyer is committing to.
- Standardized Contracts
Most suppliers use standardized contracts and there is little room for negotiation beyond price and volume.
- Worldwide Sources
The energy might be produced locally, across state lines, or internationally (in Canada). Depending on where it is produced, and where it is purchased, there may be documentary requirements, energy credits, or other concerns that need to be taken into account.
In addition, there are concerns regarding transportation and delivery, regulation, and responsibility that also need to be understood. For more information, check out the two part series on the nature of energy as a purchased item (Part I and Part II).
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