I got married on June 28th. After 7 years together, we decided to make it official. To be honest, I never had much interest in planning a wedding so I had lots to learn. As exciting as it was, at times the task was daunting: venue, guest list, colors, theme, bridal party, transportation, music, photography and of course the dress. Throughout the nine months we took to plan, I realized there are a lot of similarities between wedding planning and supply chain management. Here’s my top 4 list on the parallels between the two: 4. Disruptions To no one's surprise, I learned that wedding planning does not always go smoothly. Just like supply chain management, there will always be disruptions –it could be a small disruption like your parents invite people that weren't on your original invite list or a larger one, like what a Saskatchewan couple experienced last week on their wedding day… a tornado! Despite this, their photographer was able to think quickly and capture some breathtaking photos. Lesson learned: There will be bumps in the road but you can’t dwell on them; they need to be dealt with rapidly and maybe even a little creatively. For business, competition continues to grow. Responding rapidly to changes is critical, whether it is ordinary daily order changes to large and unexpected supply chain disruptions such as strikes, blockades and regional tragedies. We can no longer predict the future with acceptable levels of accuracy, and so the success or failure of supply chains is dependent on how quickly and effectively stakeholders can understand and respond to evolving situations. Once you know the impact, you need to act quickly to simulate the various scenario alternatives and find the best solution. The timeliness of resolution is a key factor in mitigating any potential damage to your operations. Risk management We contemplated who we would ask to give a speech. For example, do you ask your husband’s friend to make a toast even though you know there’s a very good chance he will say something offensive? We decided to decrease the risk of any bad behavior by our friends and kept speeches to a minimum by only asking the best man and maid of honour to speak. In supply chain, it is not just about avoiding risky situations, supply chain risk management has a component that many companies fail to consider; the ability to respond:
- Even the best thought out mitigation strategy may fail when the time comes to implement;
- events that you couldn't have imagined (or considered too low a probability to worry about) during your risk assessment may in fact come to pass; and very importantly,
- small events, which may be considered insignificant on their own, but that taken in sum become a large risk consideration if not managed effectively.
It is important to be proactively alerted to urgent issues before they turn into major problems. Collaboration Because there are so many aspects that go into successfully pulling off a wedding, it’s really important to have a good working relationship with all your vendors. One challenge that we ran into with our venue, is that every time we spoke about our wedding plans we were passed along to a different wedding coordinator to help us… and more often than not, it wasn’t the person that would be there to help us the day of. This was a little unnerving because without telling our coordinator firsthand, it felt like we were playing telephone. Getting on the same page is key since these are the people that are going to help you execute your big day. Just like collaborating with all your vendors, guests, bridal party, those in supply chain now need to coordinate with a number of tiers in the value chain network. Because of that, supply chain visibility and supply chain coordination has been reduced and often made the brand owners dependent on suppliers for their business and operations performance results. To be truly effective, supplier collaboration needs to go far beyond the tactical exchange of data. Key suppliers must actively review information and directly contribute to the decision-making process so that companies can exchange early warnings and collaboratively resolve supply chain risk issues. Better supplier collaboration improves the flexibility of a supply chain and the profitability of the enterprise. Talent We hear a lot about supply chain talent and how important it is to build up less experienced supply chain professionals to operate an effective and efficient supply chain. The same could be said for those getting married. We certainly needed and appreciated our friends and family that supported us throughout the wedding planning process. Without their support and advice, we wouldn't have been able to pull it off, or at least not as well. Just like we received a lot of sage wedding and marriage advice from married friends, colleagues and acquaintances, many organizations are creating formal supply chain talent-management programs to help transfer knowledge to cultivate growth. Often, these programs aim to engage both the mentors and the mentees by providing opportunities for a connection and growth. And now, more and more colleges and universities are offering undergraduate- and graduate-degree programs in supply chain management to better prepare younger supply chain professionals to enter into the field. All that said, I can officially say we did it! And I can’t wait to give advice to future engaged couple thinking about planning a wedding. Happy Wednesday!