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Supply Chain: Off Course but Correcting

September 29, 2023

The Suez Canal had “a moment” on March 23, 2021 at 7:40am. The container ship Ever Given, moving too fast, along a narrow passage, with limited visibility, became lodged in the canal’s muddy bank. (Here’s the blow-by-blow.) You may remember the consequences, including $10 billion in daily trade lost, spiking fuel costs, and 400 ships stuck for nigh on a week. Upside: the ship’s woes provided fodder for the global zeitgeist, with metaphoric memes featuring inbox overwhelm and dark COVID humor. Downside: it remains a sobering example of how a single wayward event in the global supply chain can be so utterly disruptive.

Modest improvements

Ever Given aside, it’s not headline news that our global supply chain is fragile. But concerns are dropping. One 2023 Q2 survey of U.S.-based CFOs suggests that 13% cite supply-chain hassles affect their business, down from 36% last year, and far surpassed in 2023 by concerns about the financing environment (51%) and inflation (47%). Improved semiconductor supply in 2023 – struggling in 2022 – means that some auto sales are rising. Still, one survey showed that nearly half (45%) of global finance leaders were ditching the “just-in-time” model that prioritizes efficiency and low costs, in favor of a revenue assurance model that seeks flexibility and resilience. With rising costs, now’s the time examine your vendor base. Explore alternatives and contingencies, better quality, shorter lead times, near sourcing, and quicker delivery. Consider hiring a CSCO (Chief Supply Chain Officer) or Gen Z “digital natives” to help manage your supply chain tech innovations. Stay resilient out there! 

“A good plan today is better than a perfect plan tomorrow.”
– Andy Weir, software engineer and novelist

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