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Supply chain leaders to address immediate risks for long-term sustainability

Supply chain and procurement leaders can better address long-term resource constraints by focusing on the immediate risks that threaten business viability, according to new research from Gartner, Inc.

The research findings showed that leading supply chains motivate action by focusing stakeholders on urgent, tangible issues, rather than attempting to mitigate exposure to long-term constraints directly. This approach proves to be more effective in finding solutions to actually address long-term limitations.

During Gartner Supply Chain Symposium/Xpo in Barcelona, Gartner experts presented research that identified three key barriers preventing supply chain leaders from taking sufficient action to address constrained resources. Gartner identified the top current resource constraints that threaten business viability via a survey of 143 supply chain leaders completed in January 2024 (see Figure 1).

The findings indicated that supply chain leaders can leverage short-term, immediately apparent impacts to business viability to gain stakeholder buy-in for action. In doing so, these actions provide a basis for designing solutions that will also address long-term resource constraints (e.g. labor, raw materials, capacity) that are set to be exacerbated by worsening climate change impacts in the years ahead.

“It’s difficult to motivate action on long-term constraints when leaders are focused on the clear and present dangers in front of them,” said Laura Rainier, Senior Director Analyst, Gartner Supply Chain Practice. “Rather than wait for a mandate that may never come, supply chain leaders can work with the short-term pressures facing the organization to design solutions today that will address both current and future constraints.”

By centering their strategies on current business viability concerns and de-prioritizing long-term constraints, supply chain leaders can deliver strong results with even small changes made in the right areas.

Gartner’s research focused on three key categories of action where supply chain leaders should shift their strategies:

  • Motivate Action by De-Prioritizing Long-Term Constraints – Rainier told attendees that it’s especially important for supply chain leaders to focus on generating action through addressing short-term risks that stakeholders are most focused on. Even established long-term strategies are likely to be de-prioritized in the event of supply chain disruptions. In the near term, supply chain leaders should focus on obtaining investments and stakeholder buy-in that address the constraints their organizations are already facing.
  • Reprioritize Long-Term Constraints to Design Solutions – Effective supply chain organizations can exert significant influence in product design that can impact considerations from material use to labor efficiency. By engaging with relevant internal and external stakeholders, supply chain leaders can ensure both present and future constraints are considered as part of the design process. They should start with a focus on designing resource constraints out of new products, phasing in more sustainable and viable products for the future.
  • Leverage the Marketplace to Learn and Innovate – Leading supply chains innovate new solutions by creating opportunities to learn and leveraging their standing as customers to overcome resistance. Further, they rely on external partners to overcome technical and regulatory barriers. Leading companies forge partnerships with innovators, startups and solution providers with a clear goal in mind, using pilots to identify and overcome barriers to that goal.

Gartner

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