Tips for the riskiest job in the world: Supply Manager

Ask yourself, what is the riskiest job in the world? Deep-sea Fisherman? Fighter pilot? High-Rise Window Cleaner? Long Distance Truck driver? Nope. None of them. It is the Supply Manager job in the [OEM-ODM-EMS] electronic industry! It is high risk and extremely stressful and here I will explain why I believe it to be the riskiest job in the world, plus there are a few tips to help Supply Managers in their journey.

Is Supply Manager the riskiest job in the world?
Photo via Visualhunt

The riskiest job in the world?

Let’s face it, Supply Management jobs in the electronic industry are responsible for the ordering and restocking of thousands of parts in the most challenging and volatile manufacturing supply-chain that exists. It’s humanly IMPOSSIBLE to monitor and control everything; create orders, send pull, push and cancel requests, negotiate and escalate the right parts at the right time; whilst under pressure from production, the sales team and customers.

Your mission is to respond to constantly changing demand, fueled by unpredictable lead-times in supply and only one part need fall through the net and you’ll be held responsible for… hmmm, the production breakdown of half the European automotive industry?

That’s a tough responsibility.

To be honest, when I was Manufacturing and Logistics Director at Sagemcom, I often felt like the captain of a boat caught in a dense fog, obliged to keep moving forward.

Highly risky, highly stressful.

Is Supply Manager the riskiest job in the world?
Credit: Philippe Hercher

Some tips to ease your pain

The job is difficult enough, so you can only benefit by following some best practices. Chances are, if you’re not following any of these then you’re living a daily supply-chain nightmare.

1. Request ERP clean data

This is mandatory, otherwise you are living the mantra: “Shit in. Shit out”. Lead-times have to be automatically updated on a weekly basis as a minimum. Don’t rely on some manual processes by someone in your organisation, compiling Excel files from a variety of vendors to update the ERP every quarter, or more likely only when that person has any time. Old contracts should be disabled. Never accept MOQ, MOD or MPQ errors. And triple check your LBO [Last Buy Order] process. You. Can. Not. Afford. Any. Breach.

2. Apply safety lead-times

This is a very quick win, but is not as easy to explain. Here is a short article which can help and here is an Excel simulation.

3. Automatically rank priorities (push-pull-cancel per item)
This is incredibly important. You need to have a daily, automated report on how critical every part is. You should rank priorities not for only shortages but also rescheduling and cancellations. Do not only rely on the intuition and experience of your team; although initial feelings are often true, it is not enough.

4. Automatically rank planning feasibility (per BOM)
Same. Have an automated report to calculate the feasibility of every production plan. Ask to reschedule as early as possible in feasible plans. If not, you’re only working to increase your stock level.

5. Automate every thing else that can be automated
Anything that can be automated should be automated. Example: you’ve placed an order on manufacturing part number 67643–0910 and you get a vendor confirmation on 0676430910. This is a very classic Molex matching pattern. Find a way to automatically avoid the inevitable error that will arise at factory reception.

6. Automate the use of outside data
This is the icing on the cake AND the cherry on top (a big cherry for big data!) Today, you can request your vendors to provide daily data on lead times, prices, commodity status. You can access APIs to get alternative packaging MPN, end-of-life status, public lead-times, public stocks. You’re imagining leveraging this data for tips 1 to 5 above? My advice: start small with easily feasible projects.

These are the basic tips. I’m going to write more blogs here in future, expanding on each tip in the coming weeks. So, stay tuned!

Before you go — a video to finish on a positive note. Some jobs are still crazier!


Want to see Precogs in action?

Contact us to find out how Precogs lowers costs
while improving purchase processing and efficiency.