Who could’ve predicted that 2020 would bring such unforecasted pivots and unimaginable challenges? That supply chain professionals would have to respond to a crisis that had a global impact on supply, demand, and people while also adapting to an influx of new technologies?
2020 delivered another year of change, innovation, and growth for supply chains. The COVID pandemic has lasted longer than anyone could have imagined, and throughout it, our supply chains, I believe, have shown resilience. Here in the U.S., there were shortages of many different products early on, as millions of Americans shifted to working and learning from home. Instead of consuming food and paper goods in schools and restaurants, they began shopping from home. That huge shift in demand was met by our supply chains, which exhibited the resilience to get back in business and minimize disruption.
The experiences of the past nine months are undoubtedly shaping how organizations and professionals alike are planning for the year ahead. Savvy supply chain professionals are learning from the past to prepare for events in the future. Last year certainly provided opportunities for learning and improvement, even for all of us that have been in supply chain for decades. We've never seen anything like this, but certainly we will learn from it. We will develop new partners, and we will move ahead with even more resilient, flexible, and agile supply chains all around the world.
What are the lessons I take away from last year? First, all the professionals in supply chain management know they need to be ready for the unexpected, to prepare for scenarios that are unlikely, and to respond with agility and flexibility to ensure our customers are served. And yes, at the lowest possible total delivered cost, which is one of the main foundations of modern-day supply chain management. Together, as we start 2021, look at your supply chains and the magnificent people who lead and manage them. Review with them the takeaways and lessons from the past year. Examine the unique opportunities and ways of serving customers that were born out of necessity and determine if they can be employed and leveraged in the new year. Appreciate that the creativity your people showed in responding to the unpredictable may have resulted in a new way of doing business.
A new year allows for reflection. Take the good from last year and start with optimism this year, remembering that people are the most important aspect in any supply chain. While tools and technology will always be evolving and available, leadership is difficult to replace. We have seen significant leadership throughout this pandemic. It is always the people that make it happen. Stay connected with your teams, industry peers, and the supply chain community. Tap into CSCMP, your professional association, for a network of peers that can support and inspire you through good times and bad. Invest the time to engage and make the most of opportunities like CSCMP’s annual EDGE conference and local roundtable events. You will make contacts that will be there when you need them; you will be a friend, peer, and business resource for others.
Stay connected with your professional association, CSCMP. We remain unwavering and dedicated in our mission to advance our discipline and your career. We wish you well.