Many companies are wary of using supply chain consultants or only look towards the big global companies for assistance. Although we are a small professional team at Bisham Consulting, we have decades of practical experience in multiple sectors, allowing us to provide a more personalised service to our clients. Here we share what you need to know before hiring a supply chain consultant.
What Does a Supply Chain Consultant Do?
At the beginning of the year, ahead of the World Economic Forum (WEF) Davos Agenda virtual meeting, business leaders were asked to share their insights on global supply chains in 2022. Issues mentioned include sustainability, inclusion, changed buyer-supplier relationships, use of digital technologies, and transformation and leveraging of supply chain networks. These are issues that every company, whether large or small, is facing on some level.
One way to overcome these challenges is to engage a supply chain consultant who can help with the following services: –
- Assessment of supply chain risks
- Performance evaluation of current and future supply chain networks
- Review and optimisation of transport management and logistics networks
- Recommends improvements in supply chain digital technologies
- Assists with inventory management and demand planning
- Warehouse automation and design assessment and advice
- Evaluates procurement strategies, processes and models to maximise the contract value
- Third party logistics (3PL) outsourcing advice
- Develops an effective supply chain strategy
- Project management and implementation.
What Is The Process Supply Chain Consultants Follow to Achieve The Above?
Collects data. A supply chain consultant is adept at getting key information, doing it quickly, analysing and presenting it with insightful observations and conclusions.
Identifies problems. With their understanding of every element of the supply chain, consultants identify problems people within the company don’t notice as they are too close to the operations.
Make recommendations. After identifying the problems, a supply chain consultant will evaluate all possible solutions and make recommendations, keeping cost in mind.
Assists with implementation. When required, consultants assist companies until project implementation is completed.
Common Misconceptions About Supply Chain Consulting
Many people, unfortunately, have misconceptions about supply chain consulting. They think consultants are a waste of time, expensive, and add no value to the business. Some feel consultants have insufficient knowledge about the environment they are entering. However professional logistics and supply chain consultants such as Bisham Consulting have experts that have previously held senior roles in the global logistics industry who understand potential problems and risks.
Do you feel outsourcing will increase your business costs?
Each company is different and outsourcing is the right decision for some but may not be the right choice for others. The intent of supply chain consulting companies is to recommend what benefits each individual company with the objective of decreasing costs and increasing efficiency, competitiveness and profits.
What are some of the questions a supply chain consultant will ask to identify potential gains?
- Does the current supply chain support your general business objectives, or is it inhibiting your company’s performance?
- Is there waste and poor efficiency in the existing system that can easily be reduced to improve financial returns?
Some of the factors we look at to see what impacts business costs are:
- Excessive or inappropriate inventory
- Transport expenses
- Physical infrastructure condition
- Service levels
- Labour and resource use
- Innovation and use of advanced technologies.
Are you worried external supply chain consultants will force you to accept their strategy recommendations?
Collaboration is key to the relationship between companies and supply chain consultants. You know what your business objectives are, and an expert supply chain consultant will consider that by drafting a supply chain strategy that supports your business objectives. A consultant should always add real value to your company by working with you to study the strategic, operational, technical, and commercial aspects of its supply chain. Regular workshops are a key part of the process to ensure the project is in line with the client objectives.
The Best Supply Chain Consultants Care About Your Money
The best supply chain consultants care about your money as if it is their own, and the resilience of your business to ensure future income. The Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI), in collaboration with the Department for International Trade and Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS), collaborated to provide companies with supply chain resilience guidance as there have been many global supply and demand shocks the last few years.
A supply chain consultant will advise you on the impact the climate, global economy, and geopolitical environment could have on your business and how to make it more resilient. That is why one of services offered by Bisham Consulting is supply chain risk assessment. Companies need to understand the vulnerabilities and potential risks to their supply chains before they can build business resilience. We identify three types of risk which we assess before we advise clients on how to mitigate them. The three types are:
Network risks. This list can get very long but the main risks include supplier failure, supply chain IT failure, strikes, floods, fires, and more.
Organisational risks. These risks are often experienced by companies and include lack of information sharing, change of senior management, no early warning mechanisms, key individual illness, no relevant data to support decision-making, and more.
Business environment risks. Macro-level events such as loss of market to competition, trade disputes, a slowing global economy, and more.
At Bisham Consulting, we care about getting results and will only make recommendations that we would implement ourselves. As a supply chain consultant with decades of experience, we work with you to make your company more efficient, profitable, competitive, and resilient.
The Hidden Traps of Supply Chain Cost Reduction
Clients often say they don’t have the budget to hire a supply chain consultant. They also want changes to make an immediate impact and want a return within 12 months. Bisham Consulting believes that operations are a cost centre and not a profit centre, but we show clients how much savings is possible with optimal supply chain performance.
Management often falls into the trap of using the supply chain to cut costs, but this is not necessarily the most effective choice. What are these cost reduction traps? Are there good cost reduction strategies that companies should consider? Good cost reduction strategies include using software applications to automate data management and improve demand planning and forecasting. Companies can also reduce touchpoints and review inventory management and warehousing processes. Traps to look out for include:
Reducing costs at all costs. Traditionally, companies across all industries implemented cost reduction at any cost, including in their supply chain. However, this impacts their ability to maintain a competitive business and diminishes returns in the long term. Instead, they should consider investing for greater efficiency, thus saving costs and increasing future returns.
Cutting transportation costs. Before you consider cutting transportation costs, identify what percentage of the total costs it accounts for, and whether the effort equals its impact on overall operating expenses.In the current business climate, goods transportation and other factors have a bigger influence on supply chain inflation than in the past and needs to be finely managed by companies.
Ignoring sustainability. Companies often view sustainability as a box-ticking exercise and a waste of time. Consumers are becoming more aware of the impact of their choices and expect companies to take them seriously. The Chartered Institute of Procurement and Supply (CIPS) offers guidance on sustainable procurement and supply chain management, as not practising sustainability could cause reputational damage and financial loss.
Why Start Using a Supply Chain Consultant?
There are times when every business experiences challenges that cannot be resolved with internal knowledge. External consultants identify issues in an objective manner, make cost-effective recommendations, and even assist with efficient implementation of approved proposals.
How much time will the supply chain consultants take, how involved do you need to be, and how does the process work long-term?
There is a reason for the saying ‘time is money’, especially in business, so you need a supply chain consultant that understands how your company and industry work within the shortest period possible. Bisham Consulting professionals have global and local experience across the automotive, manufacturing, wholesale and retail, healthcare and pharmaceutical, FMCG, and technology industries. This knowledge means we understand the tactical supply chain decisions required for improved demand planning and operations planning. Our expertise saves you time.
We know how busy people are with the everyday running of a business and don’t occupy their time with long, standard questionnaires. After initial meetings to understand your needs and concerns, we work independently and use our practical and commercial experience to identify what must be done to make the company more efficient, profitable, and competitive. However, regular workshops or conference calls are held to ensure the client is involved and informed at every stage. If a client is comfortable with the suggested supply chain improvements, the consultant’s work is completed, but if needed, can assist further with implementing the recommendations.
The Value of Small Supply Chain Consultancy Firms
Many companies feel they have an effective supply chain strategy until uncertain times reveal the vulnerabilities within supply chains, whether global or local. To compete in volatile and unpredictable times, businesses are compelled to review their supply chain strategy and practices. A Harvard Business Review (HBR) article suggests that to promote supply chain resilience, big companies should also take care of their suppliers, especially the lower-tier ones.
Attempting to fulfil changing customer expectations while adapting to economic and natural disruptions means there is often not enough time to identify problems and rethink the company’s supply chain strategy. Here is where the value of a small supply chain consultant lies. A small consultancy such as Bisham Consulting offers a more personal, agile service where problems are highlighted quickly for speedy resolution, accompanied by supply chain strategy recommendations. They are also less expensive than big, global consultancies.
A supply chain consultant will look at every element of the supply chain before making recommendations. To view all our products visit the Services Page