Tag Archives: supply chain tools

Stop Ignoring Twitter As A Supply Chain Tool

Using social media as a supply chain tool? Don’t dismiss Twitter – it can add real value for your organisation.

twitter supply chain

Many procurement teams and companies have realised the crucial role that social media plays in their marketing efforts. However, while Facebook and LinkedIn are often used effectively, Twitter is frequently relegated to an afterthought – and it shouldn’t be.

From brand awareness to customer engagement and trend monitoring, Twitter provides many opportunities for supply chain organisations to stand out from the crowd.

In addition, the microblogging platform can be an asset that extends beyond your marketing efforts and shapes your overall business strategy.

Below are just a few ways Twitter can be a game changer for your company:

Use Hashtags To Showcase Thought Leadership And Discover New Supply Chain Trends

Twitter’s hashtags are a great way to get a pulse on the supply chain industry. In fact, there are 228 tweets per hour that include the hashtag #supplychain. Some of the other most popular supply chain hashtags include #Procurement, #SCM, and #Logistics.

Use these hashtags in your posts to showcase thought leadership and uncover potential business development opportunities. You can also follow these hashtags – and others – to uncover new trends, technologies and best practices that you can use to implement in your organisation.

Tools like Hashtagify make it easy to find hashtags relevant to your company and industry.

Recruit The Right Talent

Recruiting and retaining top supply chain talent is becoming more competitive, so companies need to find new ways to recruit the best in the industry.

Showcasing your company’s corporate culture through Twitter can entice the right supply chain talent to apply for job openings at your organisation.  

Not only can Twitter help find the right talent, it can also help your organisation research and vet candidates. Your organisation will understand the candidate’s perspective on the supply chain industry, as well as get a better sense of whether or not the candidate would be a good fit in your organisation.

Discover Potential Demands And Risks in Real Time

Twitter acts like a real-time news ticker, which can help supply chain professionals prepare for unexpected demands and risk. Twitter is able to add rich, real-time insight to operational data that can help your organisation make timely and better-informed decisions.

According to IBM, Twitter is a valuable indicator of demand for certain sectors of manufacturing. For example, if a major influencer discusses one of your products on Twitter, the awareness of your brand may skyrocket, causing a large demand for your company’s product without any warning.

By monitoring your products and services on Twitter, you’ll be able to learn about the demand as soon as you can. Social listening on Twitter can also help your organisation prepare for low-probability, high-impact risks such as natural disasters that could disrupt your supply chain.

Showcasing your knowledge, connecting with top talent and keeping your finger on the pulse of the supply chain are powerful ways to gain a competitive advantage over the competition, and Twitter makes it simple. Be sure to integrate it into your social media strategy.

Ed Edwards is Audience Outreach Manager at THOMASNET.com. He leverages his extensive experiences in engineering, manufacturing and procurement, to educate procurement and engineering professionals on how to streamline and improve their work.

Ed provides customised training to organisations’ engineering and sourcing teams and helps buyers with their challenges and finds them new opportunities.

Unpicking The Kraljic Matrix for Procurement

In 1983, the world was introduced to The Kraljic Matrix. But is it still as relevant to procurement today?

kraljic matrix

September 1983: Peter Kraljic publishes an article that will deeply change both the working methodology and concept of many Procurement departments.

The article, published in the Harvard Business Review was titled “Purchasing must become Supply Management”. It introduced a concept that has been a key tool for procurement ever since: The Kraljic Matrix.

In this article, Kraljic advocated and argued for the need for profound transformation of the Purchasing Department into a much more strategic role. He included several examples of large organisations that had already done so, and achieved excellent results.

In order to support the required change to a more strategic role, Kraljic introduced a decision matrix. In this article, we will explain how the matrix works, and how organisations can apply it in their procurement department.

Defining The Kraljic Matrix

The Kraljic Matrix classifies the sourcing scope (also known as acquisition perimeter) from a company according to two factors.

1. Financial Impact

Measures the impact on both the manufacturing costs of the product and its impact on the profit margin.

Look at the example of manufacturing a Lego brick. Plastic would have a high financial impact, both because it accounts for most of the product cost, and because the current volatility of oil (the price of which impacts directly on plastic cost) greatly affects the profit margin.

2. Complexity of Supply

Sorts the market complexity to achieve a stable and uninterrupted supply. In this case, we must consider whether there are monopolies, logistic issues, volatility, or impact of technological changes.

An example of highly complex supply would be the chipset manufacturer for mobile phones Qualcomm. The company took over Intel and Nvidia, giving them a monopoly on the market, and the ability to refuse to supply certain organisations.

Whereas some organisations, like Samsung, chose to manufacture their own chipsets. However, not all companies can do the same.

The Kraljic Matrix

By combining both factors, we produce a chart with four perfectly differentiated groups:

  • Leverage Items

Standard commodities with an abundant source of suppliers. They are usually highly standardised, and easily available, products. Supply risk is low, though there is a high impact on costs and benefits. For example, plastic or raw material for Lego bricks.

  • Strategic Items

These are critical products for a company, and are the key focus for the Procurement team. There is high risk against supply, and a high impact on cost. For example, the Qualcomm chipsets for mobile phones.

  • Non-Critical Items

Those products that have a low impact on costs, and the supply of these is low in complexity. A good example would be, for example, standard screws in a computer factory.

  • Bottleneck Items

These are products with limited source of supply. Their supply risk is high, but do not have a major financial impact. For example, an integral part of technology hardware, the power pack for a laptop.

Analysis and Strategy

Once you have classified the products, you can define the strategies to be applied on each group in order to optimise supply. While each item will likely have it’s own specific strategy, the categorisation in The Kraljic Matrix points to a common direction and goal for each, and shows common pros and cons for each group.

kraljic-categories
Adapted from ‘Purchasing Must Become Supply Management’ – Peter Kraljic, Harvard Business Review, 1983
  • Leverage Items

We are in a so-called “buyer’s market”. Because of this, we need to negotiate to achieve the best supply conditions from a dominant position. Procurement can do this through the use of tenders, reverse auctions, setting specific target prices, or framework agreements.

  • Strategic Items

In this case, the need to mitigate risk is mutual between the supplier and the buyer. The goal here is to ensure long-term availability. Therefore, procurement needs to consider suppliers as an equal and look for a “win-win” negotiation that benefits both parties.

In these cases supplier development strategies, partnerships, and supplier innovation are recommended.

  • Non-Critical Items

There are products with low economic impact and low complexity of supply. This makes them usually the lowest priority in a sourcing strategy.

Habitually supply agreements are negotiated based on high volumes, or Kanban type solutions are implemented. A good example is the screws in the computer factory described above. These would be bought in bulk, but have a variety of suppliers available in the market.

  • Bottleneck Items

These are the opposite to Leveraged Items – we are in a “Supplier’s Market.”

In this case two parallel strategies must be followed. The first is to secure supply through framework agreements, providing for penalties for the supplier due to lack of supply while maintaining good relationships with existing suppliers.

The second, which should be done at the same time, is for procurement to work with R&D or Engineering departments to establish alternative products that can be used. This enables the organisation to reduce supply risk, turning bottleneck items back to non-critical items.

Some Advice to Heed

Although the information provided by The Kraljic Matrix may seem very generalised, it’s purpose is to help set up a basis of supply strategy.

By classifying sourcing activities using the Matrix, organisations can get a clearer picture of its available resources, priorities for negotiations, and objectives it wants to achieve.

The article wouldn’t be complete without some advice. The Kraljic Matrix is a dynamic tool – it changes, so it needs to be reviewed frequently. Markets have become more dynamic, and the supply situation can change significantly in short time periods.

Being able to adapt to these changes is a critical success factor for Procurement. Therefore the tools used to develop strategies must also be dynamic and flexible, which is why the Kraljic Matrix can provide great value for organisations.