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Supply Chain's Role in Product Management

Product management, at its core, revolves around the transformation of a mere concept into a tangible, market-ready product. Often, we observe the glittering success of a new launch and the seamless experience it promises. And, we remind ourselves our success was a collection of accomplishments from myriad teams. This blog article focuses on the importance of supply chain involvement in nearly every stage of product development. Imagine crafting a groundbreaking product, only to stumble upon logistical barriers or material scarcities during its roll-out. The product may be exceptional, but without the backing of an efficient supply chain, it becomes a story of what might have been.

To companies ingrained in the rhythm of introducing or sourcing products and ensuring they reach the consumer as envisaged, any deviation can be calamitous. It isn't just about ensuring timely delivery; it’s about preserving the sanctity of the promised consumer experience. A delay or mishandling due to unforeseen supply chain challenges not only affects revenue but can erode trust, brand perception, and long-term customer loyalty.

To forge harmony between product management and the supply chain, companies should assess the current role their supply chain plays in product management. Are the nuances of distribution - such as special handling, service life, and infrastructure needs - considered during the ideation phase? Can the supply chain adapt swiftly to unique product needs and launch schedules? And perhaps most critically, is there a mechanism to incorporate projected demand for new or refined products into Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP), Integrated Business Planning (IBP), and/or Sales & Operations Execution (S&OE) processes? This line of thinking helps preempt bottlenecks, stockouts, and surpluses.

Addressing the above concerns isn’t merely an exercise in risk management; it’s the blueprint for a robust supply chain. One that isn’t just reactive, but predictive. A supply chain that understands the product’s essence can pre-empt challenges, innovate, and offer feedback that enhances the product. It's the difference between an organization that constantly fire-fights and one that navigates challenges with foresight and alignment.

Consider a company - let's call them Acme, Inc. They envisioned a product that required temperature-sensitive transportation. Rather than designing the product in isolation, they collaborated with their supply chain team from day one. By understanding infrastructure needs and handling requirements early on, they adapted the product slightly without compromising its integrity. When launch day arrived, not only was the product ready, but so were the customized cold-chain logistics. The product reached customers on time, with the expected quality, crafting a success story that is unlikely to have occurred without close collaboration between supply chain and product management teams.

In product creation and delivery, every department plays a vital role. But to be seamless in the eyes of the consumer, the supply chain must not be a key player; it should be an integral part of the composition process. By fostering this collaboration, businesses not only mitigate risks but set the stage for groundbreaking successes that resonate with the consumers. The path to ensuring product success, is undeniably built on the bridge between product ideation and its journey to the customer's hands.

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