12 Days of Supply Chain Struggles

3 Minutes Read

On the first day of Christmas, my supply chain gave to me…

A whole lot of complicated problems. Managing supply chains is hard work at the best of times, but navigating this year has been an absolute minefield. So congratulations on making it through! To celebrate the amazing job you’ve done, we’re looking at the many minefields you’ve had to work around to get to this point.

Day 1 - Lack of Visibility 🔎

When polled at a recent event with GDS, 62% of supply chain leaders stated that their number one challenge was a lack of visibility. That’s a huge proportion of supply chains that are missing the end-to-end visibility that’s needed in complex times. Particularly as we’ve moved away from ‘just in time’ shipping to ‘just in case.’ Now, anything that gets missed can have significant impacts. Getting data-driven visibility is a key strategic move for 2023. 


Day 2 - A Single Carrier Strategy 🚚 

To beat the complexity of modern supply chains, many businesses have embraced a single provider strategy. This makes sense– fewer providers to manage does make for less complexity. Unfortunately, it also makes for less flexibility. And smarter, more agile supply chains have proven to be the clear winners through 2022’s turbulence.


Day 3 -  More port strikes 🚢

To be fair, it’s not just the ports that are striking. Trains, postal services and ports are just a few of the industries that have seen higher-than-normal strike days as a reaction to the cost of living. And these strikes can cause delays that cost companies millions. In order to be better prepared for this, some companies are using digital twins to plan their responses to these types of scenarios.

Read more: What is a digital twin for supply chains?


Day 4 - Changing expectations 🌟

Customers have started expecting a whole new level of service from supply chains. Both the speed and cost of service and the sustainable elements of delivery have big impacts on buying decisions these days. Which means they have big impacts on your goals, metrics and provider procurement too. Building resilience to global changes as well as customer changes is the key here.


Day 5 - No Iiii-Teeee 🤖

Getting supply chain projects onto your IT team’s roadmap can be, well, all but impossible. From totally misaligned objectives to a lack of understanding about the importance of these projects, there are all sorts of reasons you might be seeing this problem. A lot of the time, this can lead to projects that could really upgrade your supply chain not getting the support they need. Time to start looking for ways to get moving without their help?


Day 6 - Increasing complexity 🤯

2022 was the poster child for increased complexity. Geopolitical unrest, global shortages, strikes, more lockdowns, climate crisis impacts. Anything that could become complicated did. Adding in the fact that customers are demanding more than ever and you’ve got one complicated supply chain. But you’re still going! And, with a little help from AI simulations, maybe next year won’t feel so complicated.


Day 7 - De-globalisation 🌍

For years, businesses have been operating under the idea of globalisation and spreading the supply chain widely. However, global complications of the past few years have meant a lot of closed borders. Which has meant a lot of scrambling to bring all elements of the supply chain closer to home. 

More and more organisations are turning to near-shoring which presents a vast restructuring of global supply chains. The benefit to this is that it offers an opportunity to try doing things differently now.

Watch more: [Video] Supply Chain Leaders | Graham Slack | 4 biggest supply chain trends


Day 8 - Historical data 📜

We know now that historical data is not enough. Trends from 2019 would be almost indecipherable in today’s landscape. And yet, many supply chains are still working on that basis. It makes them slower to adapt and means that any disruption in the industry can really throw them for a loop! Smarter supply chains work with real-time data that shows things as they actually are and then layer scenario planning on top of it.


Day 9 - Recruitment trouble 🕵️‍♀️

One of the big problems supply chains have been facing over the past couple of years is recruitment. It’s been difficult to get new team members in and retain the ones you already have. But you and your team have pulled together and kept going and, hopefully, growing!

Read more: How businesses can support (and retain) women in supply chain


Day 10 - Another recession 📉 

Whether we’re ready or not, the UK (and much of the rest of the world) are headed swiftly for recession. This means less room for new projects and your focus is likely returning to cutting costs. However, according to this podcast from Gartner, CFOs are seeing supply chain transformation projects as good investments during this recession.

Find out more: The supply chain manager’s guide to navigating the recession


Day 11 - No time for thinking 🤔

You fight fires day in and day out. And you’re good at it. But you also know your supply chain better than anyone and there are some half-formed ideas you’d love to work through to make it even better. But all that fire-fighting takes a lot of time and energy. Here’s hoping the new year brings a little room for strategy and innovation!


Day 12 - New sustainable goals 🌲

With the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive and other ESG initiatives gaining traction over the coming years, green goals are starting to impact all parts of a business, particularly supply chains. Supply chains make up about 80% of a company’s Scope 3 emissions, so you’re probably already starting to feel the heat on this one.

Learn more: [FREE E-Book] Decarbonise your supply chain now

And, despite all those struggles, you made it through and made your supply chain work. So don’t let your supply chain give you more problems next year. Make your supply chain smarter with 7bridges and start using data to power it.



Do you relate to any of these struggles? Feel free to drop us a message.



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