How Would You Explain Supply Chain to Your Grandmother?
My grandma recently asked me to explain what is supply chain, and this is how our conversation went 👇
Granny: Tell me, my boy, explain to me again what you do at work?
Me: I work in supply chain.
Granny: What, chain?
𝗠𝗲: Supply chain, Granny. A supply chain is a term that describes all the processes from suppliers to customers. This includes planning, sourcing, manufacturing, distribution, and delivery of products or services from the point of origin to destinations.
Granny: I don’t speak Latin, my boy. What are you talking about?
So I tried a different approach..
𝗠𝗲: Look, Granny, each time you go to the supermarket to buy your preferred coffee you find it available, right?
Granny: No, I don’t.
𝗠𝗲: ok, well, most of the time it is there?
Granny: Hmm, before the COVID-19 pandemic, yes. But now it is a struggle.
𝗠𝗲: Let’s assume we are before the pandemic, have you ever thought about where your coffee comes from and how it got to your cup?
𝗠𝗲: It’s not just you, Granny, who is drinking coffee. Each day, 2.25 billion cups of coffee are consumed worldwide. The process of making coffee beans is lengthy. It involves growing the beans in one country (like Brazil or Vietnam) and then the beans are blended and roasted in another country. Afterwards, they are packaged somewhere else in the world.
Granny: Wow, that’s a very complicated journey.
𝗠𝗲: Exactly. In between this process, the beans go through international transporters, export sellers, and retailers like grocery stores, where you buy each day. Coffee brands need to work with all their partners: suppliers, intermediate sellers, logistic providers, etc., to plan everything to get your cup of coffee each day.
Granny: So what do you do then exactly in supply chain?
𝗠𝗲: I help these companies find the best and most efficient way to run all these operations.
Granny: My boy is a genius.
𝗠𝗲: I don’t do that myself, I have a lot of amazing colleagues who are helping me. We also use some advanced software to do that, and that’s where the company I work for comes in.
Granny: Oh, so you’re like a superhero for coffee then?
Me: Haha, I guess you could say that, Granny.
Granny: And what about when something goes wrong in the supply chain? Like if the coffee beans don’t get roasted properly or they get lost during transport?
Me: Well, that’s where things can get really tricky. We have to work together with all the different partners to figure out what went wrong and find a solution to fix it.
Granny: It sounds like you have a lot of responsibility on your shoulders.
Me: Yes, but it’s also really rewarding when everything comes together and we’re able to deliver a great product to the customer.
Granny: I bet! You know, I used to work in a factory when I was young. We didn’t have all these fancy computers and software like you do now. We had to do everything by hand.
Me: That sounds really tough, Granny. I’m grateful for all the technology we have today that makes our job easier.
Granny: Young people have it easy these days. But I’m glad you’re using all those gadgets for a good cause, my boy.
Me: Thanks, Granny. I’m happy to be doing my part to make sure everyone gets their daily cup of coffee.