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5 Lessons for Supply Chains from the Financial Crisis

For many supply chain executives, the Financial Crisis has been one of the toughest challenges in their careers. Firms across industries were required to deal with huge demand-supply mismatches caused by collapsing demand. However, the supply chain community found innovative ways to deal with the challenges of these tough times. Here are five action areas supply chain managers should be aware of—before the next crisis.

By ·

Firms have always been challenged to adapt their supply chains to their success in the market. During boom periods, firms are eager to avoid costly backlogs, to align manufacturing capacities with growing demand, and to ensure raw materials from new suppliers. Meanwhile, supply chains are accelerated, costly air freight is accepted, and large batches are produced because goods will be sold at some stage. In contrast, during difficult times, firms must address shrinking customer orders, face increasing competition, and see decreasing margins. Accordingly, priorities for supply chains differ significantly. Firms must focus on cutting costs, reducing capacities, consolidating suppliers, and freeing up cash by taking out inventory.

Difficult times frequently relate to an individual firm’s situation: These could include poor top management decisions, cost pressures from a new competitor, or demand being hit by poor customer service. However, difficult times are also frequently caused by changing economic climates.

During the Financial Crisis that started five years ago, an unforeseen contraction in demand across numerous industries challenged supply chains globally beyond anything observed in the past. As the economy continued to drift downward, a significant turning point occurred on September 15, 2008, when Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest U.S. investment bank at that time, declared bankruptcy. The collapse of Lehman Brothers sent a shockwave through the financial world and triggered an unprecedented decline in the global economy.

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Firms have always been challenged to adapt their supply chains to their success in the market. During boom periods, firms are eager to avoid costly backlogs, to align manufacturing capacities with growing demand, and to ensure raw materials from new suppliers. Meanwhile, supply chains are accelerated, costly air freight is accepted, and large batches are produced because goods will be sold at some stage. In contrast, during difficult times, firms must address shrinking customer orders, face increasing competition, and see decreasing margins. Accordingly, priorities for supply chains differ significantly. Firms must focus on cutting costs, reducing capacities, consolidating suppliers, and freeing up cash by taking out inventory.

Difficult times frequently relate to an individual firm’s situation: These could include poor top management decisions, cost pressures from a new competitor, or demand being hit by poor customer service. However, difficult times are also frequently caused by changing economic climates.

During the Financial Crisis that started five years ago, an unforeseen contraction in demand across numerous industries challenged supply chains globally beyond anything observed in the past. As the economy continued to drift downward, a significant turning point occurred on September 15, 2008, when Lehman Brothers, the fourth largest U.S. investment bank at that time, declared bankruptcy. The collapse of Lehman Brothers sent a shockwave through the financial world and triggered an unprecedented decline in the global economy.

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SeptemberOctober 2013 · All Topics
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