The Rest Will Follow

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supply chain role in setting transformation in motion

Taking off from our recently concluded 2023 SCMAP Supply Chain Conference last week, how do we enable our role as an industry in setting transformation in motion?

The answers are obvious, considering that we in the organization have been talking about it for years, if not decades. We foster stronger collaboration within our operations and among our partners. We embrace innovation with the view of going above and beyond what our customers want. We upgrade our competencies continuously to ensure we remain responsive to these needs. We promote transparency to allow for an even playing field.

This was made clear in the keynote session of our conference. We were lucky to have representatives from both the public and private sectors demonstrating not just what has been done and what is being done, but what more can be done.

Roni Balbieran is a long-time friend of the organization and works closely with the Department of Trade and Industry, providing his insight into the agency’s initiatives to improve our supply chain networks. Speaking on behalf of Asec. Mary Jean Pacheco, he illustrated the many things that were made possible by strengthened collaboration. It’s easy to forget that a few years ago, organizations like us had difficulty having a seat at the table, even if only to voice our concerns regarding logistics and supply chain issues. Now, we – organizations and, critically, the companies they represent – don’t just have that seat, but an active role in shaping initiatives that will ultimately benefit our profession.

Take the recently approved food logistics agenda. This would not have been possible if not for the inputs of different industry stakeholders, not to mention the enabling efforts of logistics and solution providers, retailers, producers and the government itself. Perhaps it helps that the goal here is more defined – address food security and rising prices by shortening the connection between farmers and consumers – but these efforts would ultimately impact not just our agriculture sector, but would also improve logistics for other sectors. These initiatives would build on top of each other and improve our supply chain competitiveness – our moving up the Logistics Performance Index is one sign – if we continue our efforts.

Our other keynote speaker this year is Margot Torres, who leads McDonald’s here in the Philippines, and is also a familiar face in many cross-industry initiatives. She may not be directly involved in supply chain, but as leader of one of the biggest fast food chains in the country she definitely has a keen awareness of how to satisfy customers – or, in the case of the “shortage” in French fries the brand saw last year, redirecting them to other options to manage supplies and expectations.

Her talk stressed on the importance of collaborating with internal stakeholders. We all know that making our supply chains stronger is no longer just the domain of those working in logistics. Different disciplines have to work together not just to make our supply chains responsive but also agile and flexible, not just in activities that directly impact our bottom line – say, actually selling our products – but also in being of value to the communities that host us, such as McDonald’s ReClaimed initiative.

One of the things she said, though, struck me the most. “Some changes may make sense for your business efficiency, but it does not make sense for your customers.” Perhaps it’s me having co-written our magazine’s cover story on the customer experience (if you haven’t read it, check it out online) but it’s something that should resonate with all of us. Being in supply chain means toeing a fine line between making our business profitable and serving our customers’ needs. Whatever aspect we work on to transform our operations – addressing risks, embracing technologies, taking care of the environment – we have to do it with our customers’ needs first. The rest will follow.

On behalf of the SCMAP team, I would like to thank our speakers, sponsors, partners and delegates for supporting our conference this year, truly making it the most prestigious in Philippine supply chain. See you next year, I hope? But first, to take a breather… and to submit my next column on time.

Henrik Batallones is the marketing and communications director of SCMAP, and editor-in-chief of its official publication, Supply Chain Philippines. More information about SCMAP is available at scmap.org.

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