If ever the critical nature of the supply chain process was exposed in an obvious way, it was last year. Grocery store shelves were emptied of meat, produce, canned goods, and, yes, toilet paper and paper towels. The general public learned what supply chain professionals have long known: a supply chain break disrupts the ability of those at the receiving end of goods and materials, whether a household or a business, to function normally – or at all.

In succeeding months, supplies have returned to near-previous levels, albeit with some continuing variations. While many factors aided in that recovery, no doubt thousands of individuals made a significant contribution to diagnosing and treating problems. We call their collective wisdom supply chain IQ. It’s an important element of supply chain operations, and one that’s often overlooked by organizations, to their peril.

First, the supply chain itself

In this case, we’re discussing the part of the supply chain that an organization owns and controls. It begins the moment a company receives materials and ends when products reach customers. The supply chain is the ability of the organization to move goods around with the right level of visibility and efficiency.

The five strategic pillars of the supply chain are:

1. Network footprint – assets that make up the supply chain and their location.

2. Information systems and how they’re integrated.

3. Processes and delivery models.

4. Organization – the structure of the company’s supply chain management system.

5. Customers – interaction with them and how the organization uses that information to optimize the first four pillars.

Read on at Global Trade