Right now, product companies of all shapes, sizes, and industries are facing continued value chain disruption. (If you haven’t yet, make sure to read the first part in this series to understand the importance of safeguarding your value chain.)
Many teams are probably caught in the middle of a storm with an endless to-do list just to stay above water. (Thanks for taking the time to read this, by the way). Others are watching out for the tell-tale signs of potential disruption looming over the horizon.
If your business is in the eye of the storm right now, ask yourself:
- Are you launching a new product?
- What processes are you reviewing?
- Have you evaluated your value chain risk?
- Do you have the right processes in place to minimize issues proactively?
Here are the main 3 survival guidelines that business should use to assess their exposure (and what to do about it):
1. Strengthen collaboration with partners
Suppliers, contractors, designers, manufacturers—all different labels for the same concept: your partners. Without them, what value can you bring to your customers and the marketplace?
Every partnership is a two-way street, and that means taking ownership over how you do business with them. What steps do you go through to communicate updates? How many emails do you exchange to implement one change with one partner? What about that same change with 10 partners?
Partners aren’t eager to lose relationships with businesses that are easy to work with, and that especially applies to collaborative relationships.
When partners are asked to weigh in on designs or changes, a common journey is to exchange several, maybe dozens of emails confirming the updates, adding the right attachments, and manually bringing those proposals into your product management system.
All this back-and-forth and swivel-chairing data between systems increases your time-to-market, and eats up precious time for your partners to earn revenue.
That’s why the way you collaborate with your partners is a key risk factor to consider. If you’ve ever had to tell your boss the product launch is delayed because of a mistake made somewhere in a dozen email exchanges—you might want to consider a new approach.
If your partners are open to it, we recommend a secure, self-serve portal that ensures proper access to selected data any time of day, from anywhere in the world.
With this collaboration tool, you can securely share data throughout the entire product development cycle, whether you need to provide access to select components, partial subassemblies, or top-level BOMs and DHFs.
The key is collaboration as opposed to long, clunky back and forths. They’re called your partners for a reason. Help them help you get the job done.
2. How are you evaluating your suppliers?
Hand-in-hand with strong partner collaboration is establishing a quick, easy process of evaluating your suppliers. The hope is to enable you to efficiently evaluate suppliers and their offerings through a consistent and repeatable process.
To maximize this process, we highly recommend you consider opening an electronic portal for your suppliers to eliminate redundancy of data entry. A built-in supplier portal will help you evaluate your existing AVL (approved vendor list), but also to quickly identify and onboard new potential suppliers in a streamlined process.
It’s important to determine if your management system can take critical business factors into account such as margin, when tracking performance over time. It’s common to overlook historical performance data if you don’t have the platform to do so—causing you to miss systemic supplier problems that may need addressing.
You’ll want to start with the best-in-class processes: what gets measured gets managed. Here are the key steps you’ll need to establish:
When it comes to supplier disruption such as component shortages or shipment delays, this process helps you assess and manage risk well before it leads to a major delay in time-to-market.
Even if you are simply unsure about a supplier, a clear, fixed process can help you easily conduct re-evaluations whether reacting to systemic issues or periodically measuring performance. The Propel platform, for instance, can take it one step further and help you track and identify each part that each supplier provides.
If your uncertainty about the supplier performance later turns into a tangible crisis, then you may have saved your business a critical loss in time-to-market and revenue.
Lastly, consider leveraging risk management data sets, ideally integrated directly into your supplier management system. A huge benefit of a supplier management system such as Propel’s is its ability to integrate automatically with risk assessment data. Tools like SiliconExpert help you use data to make the right decisions when it comes to component risk, compliance, availability, and cost, which lead to time and cost savings.
3. How does your system stack up? Platform is king.
Here’s the thing: even if your partner relationships are solid and your suppliers are top notch—nothing will prepare you better for potential disruption than a future-proof industry cloud solution.
With shared insights across product and commercial teams, contextual collaboration to speed process flow, and product-market engagement to drive financial success—you can weather any storm.
As suggested by MIT Sloan, when you use a single source of truth as a decision-making hub, you can retain context and understand impacts to your overall business and specific verticals or revenue streams.
A partner collaboration portal and a supplier evaluation tool are just the tip of the iceberg. Here are some other competitive assets with the right product management platform:
- Configurable reporting: make your data work for you.
- Automatic alerts to mitigate risk before disaster strikes: poor supplier reviews, over-time trends, potential delays, and more.
- End-to-end visibility: from concepting and design all the way through brand marketing and customer service.
- Enhanced IP security: limit access, securely collaborate, and minimize human error when handling sensitive data.
- Key processes and metrics like Case Management, customer satisfaction, Net Promoter Score (NPS), and responsiveness—all of which provide in-depth market feedback to respond more effectively to demand and lessen waste.
Taken together, all of these processes and tools serve to protect and improve your value chain. Supply chain is traditionally limited to one-way product development that ends when the product ships, but the right software solution can add value after the product is delivered by feeding market data seamlessly back into your development iterations.
When your team is trained to use one common collaborative platform, you can provide division leaders and executives with the context they need to accurately assess the situation and take action swiftly.
With aggressive new Covid-19 variants, inflation at a 40-year high, an ongoing war in Europe, the next major disruption could be right around the corner. Don’t gamble the success of your products, or worse, on the fate of your company.
You can add resilience to your value chain today with product value management (PVM) platforms that support robust partner collaboration, seamlessly assess supplier risk, and speed time to market with nimble decision-making capabilities.
Don’t just stay afloat, thrive. Here’s how to get ahead of the next disruption.