Global supply chains are on the move. Executives have been hit with the harsh reality that the risk (supply chain, geopolitical, cyber, IP, etc.) is far higher than they realized when they outsourced with an eye to cost. In addition to that 80 pound gorilla, they also have suffered with delays, disruptions, and uncertainty in serving customers due to lengthy distances and logistical risk. Thus, supply chains are on the move. Strategies need to be rethought, the end-to-end supply chain assessed, and future customer needs evaluated to get in front of this changing landscape. SIOP (Sales Inventory Operations Planning) is a key process and toolset for successfully navigating this transition with profitable growth fueling the process.

Risks Abound in the Global Supply Chain

Risks abound in the global supply chain. From Russia-Ukraine to China’s extreme risk including threats to Taiwan to the increasing cyber risk, executives are struggling to navigate the global supply chain. A few critical points that “tell the story” of risk include:

  • Russia-Ukraine war: The war has disrupted the critical commodities of oil and natural gas. Europe put sanctions on Russia which left them in a bad situation in getting enough energy to power their current lifestyle as well as critical manufacturing, logistics and infrastructure needs. Thus, Europe has been scrambling to address backup sources of supply. In the interim, Russia sold oil and natural gas to China and India. The end result is price escalation in addition to “supply on the move”. Oil and natural gas is used in countless products from medical devices to glasses to phones, thus impacting the global supply chain.
  • The China risk factor: China is simply a mountain of risk. China is the number one manufacturer in the world and accounts for almost 30% of the world’s output. Thus, from internal issues (severe water and energy shortages with “solutions” of permitting two coal plants a week) to threatening Taiwan (putting 90% of the world’s advanced computer chips and 60% of the world’s standard computer chips at risk) to monopolizing rare earths (produces 60% and processes 85% of the world’s rare earths) to buying up critical infrastructure around the world (such as controlling both ends of the Panama Canal) and controlling the South China Seas, China wants to control the world’s supply chains.
  • Talent & Technology: Resources are limited around the world. For example, according to EY and an iMocha report, 81% of organizations are experiencing a shortage in skilled tech workers. Similarly, the risk of cyber attacks and supply chain security issues increase with each passing day. For example, according to Deloitte’s report 2023 Global Future of Cyber Survey 2023, 91% of organizations report experiencing one or more cyber incidents or breaches.

And now Israel is at war. Volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity (VUCA) is at an all-time high in recent history. The bottom line is that risks have reached a level that is unacceptable to many executives.

SIOP to Devise a New Path Forward

SIOP (Sales Inventory Operations Planning), also known as S&OP is a process that will help you navigate changing business conditions (such as these extreme risks). SIOP starts with a view into your future customer demand (sales forecast, customer orders, quotes, CRM) and translates that into manufacturing and supply chain requirements. The process will highlight capacity constraints (production, storage, resource), upcoming bottlenecks, forecasts for investment (equipment, inventory, resources), make vs buy decisions, and customer/ product profitability opportunities.

For example, when consulting with an industrial manufacturer that was concerned about risks in the end-to-end supply chain, and so used the SIOP process to visualize what should be done. Based on their demand plan, they were able to see impacts to their supply plans and where risks were in their current manufacturing and supply chain. Thus, they assessed and took action to transition to backup sources of supply, expand their supply base into India, pre-purchase critical commodities to give them time to assess their future needs, and they expanded regional manufacturing by sourcing offload suppliers. By taking these actions, they were able to secure supply to meet their aggressive growth plans.

Assessing Strategies

In our book, “SIOP (Sales Inventory Operations Planning): Creating Predictable Revenue and EBITDA Growth“, we discuss how SIOP will fuel transformative strategies for growth while mitigating risk.

  • Supply chain footprint: SIOP looks forward to future customer requirements and determines how to reallocate manufacturing and change the supply chain footprint (reshoring, nearshoring, regional manufacturing, additive manufacturing) to support key customers and grow the business while mitigating risk in how product is manufactured, distributed, transported and delivered in the order fulfillment process. Vast changes are occurring. For example, Apple is moving from China to India, Dell is moving from China to Vietnam, HP is moving from China to Mexico, and Intel is building a ‘mega’ factory in Germany and expanding capacity in the U.S. with its first new manufacturing facility in 40 years.
  • Supply chains on the move: As the supply chain footprint evolves, the global logistics landscape must change to support it. Thus, as I said at the IMUI international conference, shipping routes will change and evolve with changing business conditions and risks. For example, in addition to keeping up with manufacturing changes, as China becomes risk laden and the South China Seas becomes uncertain at best, companies will continue to move manufacturing and/or change shipping routes. As delays consume shipping routes such as the Panama Canal, companies will find alternatives, and as strike risks impact supply chains such as the West Coast ports, shipping routes move (and the East Coast gains in this example).
  • Examining links: SIOP opens the door to examine every link in the chain. From enabling margin analysis by product groupings, customers, markets and regions to examining the customer experience, the SIOP provides for holistic as well as departmental strategies.
  • Margin vs risk: SIOP also provides the data and process for evaluating cost reduction opportunities, pricing strategies, sales channel and marketing options, operations and supply chain alternatives, and inventory and capacity fulfillment options while assessing customer value-add business risk.
  • Talent & Technology roadmap: Last but not least, SIOP translates demand and supply plans into talent and technology requirements. More importantly, the resource requirements can will be impacted by the technology roadmap, and so the best SIOP strategies proactively address talent and technology to optimize, digitize and thrive. There are simply not enough resources at any company. Only those that automate, utilize technology and innovate will survive, let along thrive.

As risks abound, the best in class will utilize the proven process of SIOP to proactively navigate changing conditions in a manner that is not only supportive of profitable growth but is also focused on critical risks and long-term success.

Innovation: A Forward Take on Risk

Beyond the uncommon common sense strategies to ensure predictable revenue and EBITDA growth, executives must develop a culture of innovation. The world has become not only complex and convoluted, but also a maze of geopolitical risk dependent on advanced technologies. These advanced technologies escalate risk further as they are dependent on commodities in risk abundant regions of the world and carry the threat of cyber attacks. Thus, the smart are innovating. Only forward-thinking innovators willing to do what most executives will not do (such as invest when everyone else panics) while remaining calm, resilient and strong will thrive for decades to come.

Did you like this article?  Continue reading on this topic:
SIOP/ S&OP Playbook: Creating Predictability & EBITDA Growth