Beyond the Daily Firefighting

One of the many challenges of a supply chain leader is to ensure that strategic priorities and initiatives are accomplished while the important tactical and operational urgencies are addressed on a daily basis.

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One of the many challenges of a supply chain leader is to ensure that strategic priorities and initiatives are accomplished while the important tactical and operational urgencies are addressed on a daily basis.

In the last posting I described the classic situation in which a procurement professional is responsible for “the whole ball of wax” for a commodity; namely, both the strategic and tactical responsibilities for that commodity. Inevitably, since the operational and tactical requirements need to be addressed in a timely manner without fail, the strategic activities (which typically offer the greatest long-term value to a company) do not get the attention they deserve.

In our experience, the best way to address this business reality is to segregate the strategic from the tactical (see the Figure below). This makes sense for a number of reasons:

  • the processes are very different (e.g. compare strategic sourcing with all of its components, to processing requisitions)
  • the performance metrics are different
  • the skill sets required for success are different
  • it ensures dedicated resources for each activity

A side benefit of proceeding in this fashion is that your personnel – once aligned with the activity that best suits their capabilities and interests - are often less stressed out and more productive.

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About the Author

Patrick Burnson, Executive Editor
Patrick Burnson is executive editor for Logistics Management and Supply Chain Management Review magazines and web sites. Patrick is a widely-published writer and editor who has spent most of his career covering international trade, global logistics, and supply chain management. He lives and works in San Francisco, providing readers with a Pacific Rim perspective on industry trends and forecasts. You can reach him directly at pburnson@peerlessmedia.com.

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