SCMAP Perspective is our fortnightly column on PortCalls, tackling the latest developments in the supply chain industry, as well as updates from within SCMAP. On this column, we further explore efforts to increase awareness of the importance of supply chain.
The master plan
Celebrity chef Jamie Oliver has this thing he calls “the master plan”. It outlines just what you should be doing in the two days leading up to lunch on Christmas day: when to prepare the turkey, the stuffing, the potatoes, the sauces, the table – you get the idea.
Granted, it’s a British-style Christmas lunch, and this doesn’t exactly apply to us Filipinos, more accustomed to noche buena the moment the clock strikes midnight on Christmas day, but the same idea applies. Our family had white sauce pasta with ham and peas – under doctors’ orders my mother was not to eat any seafood, to her dismay – and while we had some ingredients, we shopped for some others. Three days before Christmas eve, we bought everything we needed for the pasta, and then some: cans of cream of mushroom soup; some more cream for the refrigerator cake; to boot, a bunch of gifts for my younger cousins. By the 23rd, the dessert was already in the freezer; by the 24th, I was dicing up three white onions for the pasta, which I was assigned to cook. We would later realize we should’ve gone for two, and added some olives – but then, we were experimenting. (Don’t tell anyone else that.)
A lot of planning goes on in anticipation for Christmas day. It’s not just in households, but also in stores, in factories – all players, all ends. Many supermarkets decided to open for 24 hours in the week leading up to Christmas day. They tell their suppliers – those producing all sorts of food products, from meats and vegetables, to processed items, as well as those producing household items – of their plans. Those producers are ready: they have already mapped out how much more they’re going to manufacture; perhaps they have already tapped extra trucks to make those deliveries on time. They have already coordinated with their suppliers and their partners in logistics and retail.
Supermarkets may be extra busy in the lead-up to Christmas day, but behind the scenes, it’s been busy for weeks, all executing plans that have been on deck for months, if not years.
A continuing opportunity for 2018 is making people understand just what supply chain is, and how important it is not just for businesses but for everybody in general. I personally believe a better understanding of supply chain’s basic elements lends to smarter decisions whenever you’re doing your shopping. At least it helps you understand why some items can be more expensive than others. Framing supply chain in the context of that “master plan”, that chain of events leading up to noche buena, brings what usually is an intimidating concept much closer to home.
Of course, businesses stand to gain a lot from understanding supply chain, but most Philippine companies are not well-equipped for this. Multinationals and larger businesses understand this, of course; smaller enterprises, perhaps, not so. The first Logistics Efficiency Indicators survey conducted by the Department of Trade and Industry last year showed that only 31% of manufacturers have a regularly updated logistics plan, with 19% saying they don’t have one at all. Many factors play into this: some may not understand the need for such a plan, while others may think it is unnecessary, or too expensive to implement. But it is becoming more clear for these small companies that, for them to remain competitive, a better understanding of supply chain – one which lends to better planning and coordination with stockholders – is key.
It is heartening to see the DTI intensify its initiatives to further supply chain awareness among smaller businesses. This adds to many efforts from the public and private sectors to make the country more competitive when it comes to supply chain, from education and training initiatives, to infrastructure development, and strengthening ties between stakeholders. In 2018, we should work further towards this end. And perhaps we can also revisit the National Logistics Master Plan, which was slated for launch in 2016 but has somewhat stalled since? Multiple initiatives are good to see, but without a plan to tie them all together, we might just miss this opportunity to truly be world class.