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Can Manufacturers Afford to Be Customer-Driven?

Posted By Jeff Moad, September 26, 2011 at 5:30 PM, in Category: Global Value Networks

In this era of prolonged slow growth--or rapidly repeated recessions--can manufacturers afford to continue focusing exclusively or even primarily on customer demand signals when managing complex global supply networks? According to several participants in a recent roundtable discussion among members of the ME Manufacturing Leadership Board of Governors, manufacturers must do more to consider a wide range of signals from across their networks, not just customer demand signals. Increasingly manufacturers will need to track signals generated by their suppliers and by changing market conditions. When, for example, the cost of a given commodity goes through the roof, it might be time to stop taking orders, not time to figure how best to meet customer demand.

As one board member put it, "It's not necessarily always the right thing to do just what the customer wants."

Of course, driving this push to consider a wide range of supply chain signals--not just customer demand--is the need to reduce costs and improve profitability.

Is your company recognizing a need to move its supply chain management away from an exclusive focus on meeting customer demand? It so, what's driving that, and what are you doing about it? What other signals are you beginning to look at?

Written by Jeff Moad

Jeff Moad is Research Director and Executive Editor with the Manufacturing Leadership Community. He also directs the Manufacturing Leadership Awards Program. Follow our LinkedIn Groups: Manufacturing Leadership Council and Manufacturing Leadership Summit


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