Supply Chain Evolution: Is It Time To Rethink Your Strategy? Recent shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions have only intensified the need for businesses to review and strengthen their sourcing strategies

By Robert Rebeiro

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In today's dynamic and rapidly changing business environment, the supply chain has never been more critical. Recent shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic and geopolitical tensions have only intensified the need for businesses to review and strengthen their sourcing strategies. Kerim Antoine Kfuri, president and CEO of The Atlas Network, shares his insights on this critical business component and the challenges faced by many.

Kfuri notes, "I've learned the hard way that 'learning by doing' in the world of sourcing products from overseas can be an overwhelming and costly endeavor." The intricate process involves determining the ideal sourcing strategy, vetting providers, understanding various laws, and navigating cultural nuances. Such complexities have serious ramifications, as Kfuri stresses, saying they "not only impact a business's balance sheet but can make or break any business regardless of its size."

Historically, the emphasis was on sourcing. Managers would orchestrate the flow from raw materials to finished products. However, the recent disruptions in the global landscape necessitate a broader perspective. "Business owners and supply chain managers must think beyond costs and suppliers," Kfuri suggests, highlighting the importance of making supply chain management an integral part of a company's broader strategy.

Don't Wait - Collaborate

Achieving an effective supply chain operation is a herculean task. Even seemingly straightforward processes can have complications, given the many stakeholders involved. "Even the most straightforward supply chain has multiple moving parts and involves a large number of stakeholders and government agencies," Kfuri observes, emphasizing the unpredictability of daily operations.

For companies feeling out of depth, Kfuri offers a solution: collaborate with third parties. He states, "No matter how small the business is, by looking to a third party to enhance supplier relationships and oversee risk management, any business can start working like a Fortune 500 company."

Diversification is Key

A diversified supplier base is vital, Kfuri opines. He points out the importance of trust and shared values in these relationships, saying that such strong foundations ensure everyone can "collaborate quickly and efficiently on issues that need to be addressed." If one supplier faces challenges, having alternatives ensures the supply chain remains uninterrupted.

Diversification also promotes innovation, with Kfuri noting that suppliers might introduce new efficiencies. "Flexibility and innovation are critical to continued growth," he adds, underscoring that suppliers should align with a company's goals and challenges.

To achieve this adaptability and resilience, businesses should meticulously pick their suppliers. Kfuri advises relying on both qualitative and quantitative data, stressing the importance of quality control and saying, "Choosing a third-party partner committed to supplier collaboration will help you leverage insights to continually improve your means of production."

However, the key is finding the right partner. Experience, commitment to best practices, and a vision for a holistic sourcing ecosystem are paramount. Kfuri concludes by emphasizing the significance of trust and communication, saying, "Manufacturers belong on the factory floor; you shouldn't have to be everywhere at once, establishing and vetting suppliers as you focus on operational success."

In essence, Kfuri's message is clear: In a volatile world, a resilient and adaptable supply chain is indispensable. To navigate this complexity, businesses should prioritize diversification, collaboration, and open communication. As he aptly puts it, these strategies will yield better outcomes for any supply chain.

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