5 of the Biggest Challenges in the Supply Chain Right Now, According to Industry Leaders

During a recent SCLA Executive Think Tank group discussion, I asked my fellow supply chain industry leaders what challenges they're facing now that are "keeping them awake at night." Several individuals raised points that are worth sharing with the broader community as we continue to navigate back to smoother sailing in 2021.

The good news is that our SCLA Economist, Dr. Walter Kemmsies, had several positive economic updates to share, which suggest that all of these challenges can eventually be met head-on—and overcome. It won't be without extraordinary efforts from our supply chain professionals, however. Of course, we're used to working hard!

Nearly all of these challenges are tied to the ongoing COVID-19 recovery, though many of us are also attempting to keep up with the shifting political climate in the United States. It's a lot for anyone, but there's no question that our best supply chain leaders are dedicated to learning, growing, and innovating as we establish our "new normal."

1.   New Executive Orders from the White House

My colleague Rear Admiral Mark Heinrich, CEO of Oakleaf Software, shared that he is working to stay up-to-date on President Biden's new executive orders to understand how these policies will affect the supply chain. Those related to the environment will affect the supply chain's cost concerning such regulations as CO2 generated per mile—and more. RA Heinrich spoke about remaining on the leading edge of creating a green supply chain to ensure compliance with changing regulations.

Photo by Startup Stock Photos on StockSnap

Getting Back to Work Post-COVID: How One Large Company Has Already Safely Achieved This Milestone

I recently published an article on LinkedIn about the idea of "distributed work," which is dramatically reshaping organizations of all sizes both inside and outside the supply chain industry. (The term refers to employees being physically distributed in various locations distant from one another, and it includes those who are working from home due to the pandemic.)

Based on research presented by my colleague Todd Steffen, Vice President of Supply Chain & Real Estate Advisory Services at Colliers International, distributed work is already shaping the "workplace of the future," and that was my focus in that earlier post. Some employers have embraced a distributed workforce and will continue to do so long after COVID-19 is a distant memory.

Distributed Work is Not for Everyone

But what about organizations that still function best through in-person work in a centralized location, such as corporate offices or distribution centers? As the pandemic continues to significantly disrupt in-person work, these companies have had to get creative—or face big problems and losses.

During our most recent SCLA Executive Think Tank group discussion, we heard from our friends at Jockey International, Inc., the Wisconsin-based intimate and lifestyle apparel maker. They have shown us that it doesn't have to be a struggle to bring their teams back to the traditional workplace. Tim Taylor, SVP, Chief Supply Chain Officer, and HR Executive Lisa Johnson shared all of the things that Jockey has done right to get back to work safely.