Supply Chain Strategy Consulting

Creating a supply chain strategy is very similar to creating a business strategy.  The difference in our supply chain consulting services is we start with an “operational” mindset and finish with a supply chain framework, built on optimization functionality. 

Supply chain strategy is a plan based on facts.  Facts include qualitative and quantitative data.  However, a strategy is not always correct.  Steve Jobs once said, “you never connect the dots going forward, you can only do that when looking backwards.”  Business strategy tries to look forward but more than anything, it seeks to align the organization to a plan. 

As a supply chain consulting firm, we follow a supply chain informed, four-step process for developing a strategy.  Note the similarities and difference between how we approach supply chain strategy and how a management consulting firm approaches a generic business strategy.

  1. Baseline Analysis
  2. Strategy Map
  3. Key Supply Chain Decisions
  4. Implementation

Baseline Analysis

The baseline analysis step is the most rigorous step of the strategic planning process.  In this step, we gather information to understand both internal and external factors that impact the business. 

Analysis often performed:

  • Define the problem statement:
    • What are the current challenges or areas for improvement?  What metrics would track improvement in these areas?
  • Headline & Obituary
    • Headline: what would be the headline if the company was written up in the Wall Street Journal for revolutionizing the industry?  What does success look like? 
    • Obituary: what would the byline of the article be if the company failed and had to close as a result? 
  • SWOT Analysis
    • We perform a detailed review of strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats facing the business.  Our aim is to determine how can we exploit our strengths and opportunities while mitigating our weaknesses and threats through supply chain management (SCM).
  • Porters 5 Forces
    • Porters 5 Forces provide insight into the competitive landscape which supports both business strategy and supply chain strategy development
    • We review each force and consider them in our strategy development: threat of new entrants, supplier power, customer power, threat of substitution, and degree of competition

Strategy Map

Our consulting services often use the supply chain framework, Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model.  This provides a simple basis for creating supply chain process optimization and view your supply chain on an end-to-end basis.

  • Plan – Processes that balance demand and supply to develop a course of action that best meets requirements.  When planning, sustainability, automation and global supply chain functionality often need to be considered. We use forecasting to understand customer demand and (if needed) plan for disruptions including shifting lead times. One well-known business tool that enables robust planning is Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP). A well functioning Sales & Operations Planning process integrates demand forecasting, financial forecasting and supply chain and operations capacity.
  • Source – Sourcing processes that procure goods or services, and manage suppliers, to meet planned or actual demand (procurement / sourcing).  Sourcing teams often need to support a global supply chain.  In additions, stakeholders are requiring that companies have plans for sustainability in procurement operations and sourcing plans. 
  • Make – Processes that transform inputs to a finished good or service to meet planned or actual demand, and balance with procurement.  Automation is a key consideration in the Make step of the supply chain framework.
  • Store – Processes that manage inventory for use in manufacturing or to support downstream demand. Retailers, distributors and manufacturers in particular need to consider how their approach to Storage can help them deliver for their customers and aligns with their existing or future warehousing network.
  • Deliver – Processes that provide finished goods and services to customers. This includes all modes of transportation including gig-economy delivery, drones, planes, trucks, rail, barges, and ships.
  • Return – Processes associated with returning, or receiving returned products, for any reason. In today’s ecommerce driven economy, making it easy for your customers to return products is a critical strategic need for more than just retailers.

Our consulting firm’s Supply Chain Strategic Planning process is designed to gather facts and data and then build on the supply chain framework and pillars.  We consider these six supply chain pillar categories in order to create a competitive advantage for our clients’ business. 

A useful way to create a plan is to think hierarchically.  Strategy supports the mission, so documenting the mission statement is the first step… if it does not already exist.  This will be level 0 in the strategy map.  The way to achieve the mission is documented in the Level 1 Purposes, which are the pillars of the supply chain strategy.  The Level 1 Pillars enable the mission. 

With the pillars defined, we can create detailed supply chain operations to enable the strategy.  We continue to use the Strategy Map to hierarchically create these process definitions. 

Key Supply Chain Decisions

Before we move to implementation, we need to review key supply chain decisions used in supply chain management.  We want to ensure our supply chain strategy aligns to SCM best practices.  Topics our supply chain consulting firm typically review vary widely. We consider strategic concerns including new product development, economies of scale, how we collaborate and invest in a trusting relationship with our suppliers, supply chain risks, and optimization technology that enhances supply chain management. We also integrate operational decisions into our strategy including inventory management, customer satisfaction and order fulfillment, operations planning, and other more real-time concerns.

One key domain of supply chain decisions is to understand how your existing strategy aligns with market demand. An effective supply chain is a competitive advantage. Do your business goals measure if your strategy is working throughout the product lifecycle.


The organization must build processes and realign initiatives around the focal pillars.  You cannot do everything at once, so we will prioritize two of the six pillars as having the largest gap of where you want to be and where you are with your current supply chain operation.  All other plans must be set aside as the organization creates action items to achieve greatness for the focal supply chain pillars. Our first project with clients may be a demand forecasting project to support inventory-levels and other related decision-making, an analysis of suppliers for your key raw materials, or more broadly how supply chain design can help your company grow.

Supply Chain Consulting

It is important when choosing a Supply Chain Consulting Firm to understand their approach and your culture.  At Supply Velocity, we have been providing Supply Chain consulting services for over 24 years.  We use a blend of education with a focus on implementation.  We don’t come in and develop your strategy and then hand it over.  We work together to gather information and facilitate your team in developing the supply chain strategic plan.

Contact us about Supply Chain Strategic Planning