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Looking to the future: Moving from a Supply Chain to a Supply Network

March 2023

The world of Supply is in crisis, and to stay relevant, it needs to reinvent.

In recent years, compounded by ongoing global volatility, Supply encompasses much more than just delivery. Its new role focuses on resiliency, responsible sourcing, customers, consumers, and stakeholders, to name a few. It is so much more than the classical, in-house Supply Chain, that was prevalent at the turn of the century.

This update to the role of Supply has triggered a debate regarding the relevance of the term Supply Chain in today’s world, as industry experts query whether it should be replaced in favour of something more comprehensive such as: Supply Network, or Supply Ecosystem.

The idea behind this change is that the imagery of chain, invoking a linear / sequential process with predictable outcomes, is old-fashioned and although has its place, cannot encompass all businesses that are focused on growth and flexibility, and have diversified their processes.

Instead, the image of network or ecosystem is more accurate, as Supply in today’s world is anything but linear and sequential. Links are scattered everywhere, and connections are constantly evolving.

The benefits of a Supply Network

A Supply Network in an enabler of business growth. Unlike a Supply Chain which was typically approached by businesses with the primary goal of keeping that cost to serve as low as possible, investing in and building a Supply Network allows companies to seize fleeting but powerful instances of competitive advantage.

Furthermore, Supply Networks make sense in today’s world. They form a part of your organisational structure and allow your business to spread its risk by adopting many different suppliers, retailers, and customers. This helps you to mitigate, as best as possible, against global crisis’ that continue to plague the headlines. It will likely be while before any of us forget the impact of the Suez Canal blockage, the toilet roll, pasta, and flour stockouts from the early Covid-19 lockdown and even the 2023 shortage of fruit and vegetables triggered by poor harvests, the outcome of a climate crisis which wouldn’t sound out of place in a history textbook.

Overall, Supply Networks allow for greater collaboration and thus greater efficiency. They form a series of interconnected chains that allow for greater flexibility and scalability.

Looking to the Future

Supply Chains are arguably the biggest consumer of energy across the world, and consequently, Supply has a key role to play in the world moving forward. Since the pandemic, this position has been elevated and Supply Chain leaders not only deserve but require at seat at the table.

The volatility we face on a regular basis is unprecedented, with the pandemic, the war in Ukraine, transportation issues, rising energy costs and mass resignations being but a few of the disruptions we have faced in recent times.

So, the best place to begin your evolution process is with an End-to-End Planning Solution, which can not only offer you comprehensive visibility, but also dive down into the detail, providing clear cut answers and real-time modelling, allowing you to maximise your resiliency, continue to meet orders and customer demands, whilst expanding your output to ensure your business continuity.

Supply has become about much more than simply moving goods. It’s time for Supply to adapt to new world and we can start with a new definition. From there, it will be lots of hard work, adjustments, and re-inventing but ultimately the cocktail of crisis’ is not going away.

Issues in Demand, in Supply, in environmentalism, climate impact, geopolitics, and economics remain in our future. It’s no longer appropriate to apply old methodologies to today’s world

If you want to be a proactive business rather than a reactive business, it’s worth considering a Supply Network future as opposed to a return to the business-as-usual, Supply Chain past, starting with a comprehensive Advanced Planning Solution.

Trusted by our clients

“Greencore is involved in multiple categories, supplying a diverse range of products with different characteristics that require very different manufacturing processes. We selected sofco as they have an End-to-End planning and execution system that can be configured easily to fit these disparate demands. Our approach is much more sophisticated and collaborative now.”

Chris Chestney

IT Business Partner, Greencore

“What impressed us most about the sofco people was they understood our business, listened, and would bring a lot of experience to the project. They brought solid solutions to the issues we presented them with. It was clear from the outset that we were going to be able to work well together as a team and deliver this project. That is exactly what has happened.”

Barbara Van den Berg

Project Manager, Van Geloven

British Bakels

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