Lead Times and the Supply Chain Shortage
There are many signs that society is headed in the direction of “back to normal.” Virus numbers are going down in many parts of the country (and in some parts of the world), people are going out more, and there’s an increased demand for many products and services. Those encouraging signs are becoming clearer as time goes on.
But there’s another sign that also indicates that business and consumer demand is growing, and it’s not as encouraging for many companies: Growing shortages across a large number of sectors. From semiconductors to lumber, entire industries are facing unprecedented price increases and delays, as the materials simply don’t exist to create enough products to meet immediate demand. Compound these shortages with global transportation issues, and many businesses, their vendors, and suppliers, not to mention their customers, are facing challenges at the exact time when patience and understanding is also facing a shortage. Lead times are growing, supply chains are facing increased stress, and businesses need to deal with the fallout while keeping their customers happy.
As a result, companies face multiple obstacles due to these issues, and they’re impacting a wide range of industries. The domino effect of raw material price surges and shortages are being felt across many unrelated businesses. The record price of steel, for example, affects home appliances and vehicles. Semiconductor shortages also affect vehicles and home appliances and computers, light bulbs, and any modern business that requires up-to-date infrastructure to compete in their industry.
Specifically, IT hardware and network asset needs affect every aspect of your business, and supply chain shortages and longer lead times can delay your work product from getting into customers’ hands. While you can’t eliminate these problems, there are a couple of ways to protect your company and make business obstacles easier to navigate.
Educate Your Customers
It’s no secret that leads time and supply chain issues are affecting companies all over the world, but your customers don’t know exactly how it affects them. New and existing relationships can actually be strengthened by having honest conversations about what factors are going into your lead times, what supply challenges you’re facing at the moment, and what’s anticipated in the future.
News reports will explain that shortages exist, but rarely offer the deep dive into specifics that show how and where the problems manifest. It’s up to you to not only explain the effects of rapidly-increasing demand on a short supply, but detail freight cost increases (and air cargo shortages), customs scrutiny, and plant shortages overseas. All of these elements exacerbate a growing problem and are being absorbed at the same time. Increased lead times are usually the unfortunate, but logical result of any one of these issues. Put them all together, and the impact is inevitable.
While your customers might not enjoy hearing that news, they’ll recognize that you aren’t hiding from the problem, you have a grasp of the factors going into it and you have a good idea of how it will impact them. They’ll also know that you’re eager to communicate with them, answer questions, and deal with challenges in a transparent manner. That means providing specifics when delays are likely, so there’s no confusion as to what a delay really entails. If the normal lead time has gone from 3-4 weeks to 12 weeks (as is the case for many materials), let them know. And be realistic with your timetables, so an optimistic evaluation doesn’t turn into an expectation for your clients.
It’s a fair assumption that not all of their business partners are acting so forthright. A simple “we can’t get it to you in time” might be all the explanation they get with other companies. By having honest conversations, you’re standing out from the competition and proving that you stand by your customers during challenging times. And since there are always new challenges in the business world, those are qualities customers will remember down the road as well.
Utilize the Imperium Advantage
While you deal with customers in an honest manner on the front lines, you should also be working behind the scenes to alleviate the issues as much as possible. That’s where Imperium Data Networks can help.
Our business solutions include working with clients on their IT projects, specifying needs, and identifying the best use of your resources. By making faster decisions and planning ahead, we can adapt to increased lead times and reduce their strain on your business. If we can’t change the current lead times on raw materials, we can streamline your decision-making process and save time in that manner. Imperium Data Networks is the trusted expert that can provide accurate delivery estimates and make sure your plan accommodates the current climate regarding lead times while keeping you as close to your own timelines as possible. Your goals get accomplished with fewer interruptions, and your clients are less burdened by delays to your own projects.
We can also help reduce shipping issues by keeping a healthy inventory of critical spares in our warehouse. With so many shipping delays, you don’t want to be missing a critical component to keeping your operations running smoothly. Imperium anticipates your requirements and often has the exact parts you need when you need them. While no system is perfect, we have worked hard to ensure our inventory matches customer needs and can provide some valuable peace of mind when spare parts are required for whatever reason.
Supply chain shortages and growing lead times aren’t going away immediately, so it’s important to address them now. You can keep your projects in motion, and your clients informed, by working with us to develop a sound strategy moving forward. Use our contact page to get your questions answered.