Some supply chain improvement strategies and tactics can be used in both large and small companies, some that frankly don’t apply at all, and still others that need to be adapted for an SMB environment. How often do you ever see that spelled out in any article or presentation focusing on the strategies of the Fortune 500? Almost never.
A couple of quick examples on the unique needs of SMBs might help. On the supply chain technology front, SMBs have a hard time affording large license fees for software. Now, the option of Software as a Service (SaaS) or “on-demand” applications have the potential to bring strong software functionality to the SMBs at an affordable cost – and one that can be more directly tied to the benefits received.
In regard to inventory control, multi-echelon inventory planning due to more direct distribution networks (e.g., fewer echelons or layers) isn’t as applicable, although inventory planning help is often needed.
On the flip side, SMBs have significant advantages over big companies in leveraging supply chain management. In fact, SMBs can use supply chain management to actually drive corporate strategy, rather than just be a support function, which is the case in many large enterprises.
It is time that we focus on the SMB/mid-market companies and help them with their supply chains. While it is interesting to hear the Wal-Mart and Dell supply chain success stories, there is a lot of room to work to improve the supply chain body of work for SMBs.
I’d love your reaction to this perspective, and any topics on supply chain for SMBs that you would like me to address in this column. You can ping me at the Feedback button below.