We talk a lot about the business imperative to drive efficiency and value from the supply chain and we measure our success in terms of cost, ROI & creating value. At the Qonnections 2016 event in Orlando last week, we heard about how the not-for-profit organization Direct Relief are driving efficiency in their supply chain but with a fundamentally more important KPI of saving lives.
Direct Relief is is a humanitarian aid organization, active in all 50 US states and 70 countries, with a mission to improve the health and lives of people affected by poverty or emergencies. CEO Thomas Tighe described the challenges they consistently face managing a complex supply chain in typically high stress situations where speed and accuracy within the supply chain is incredibly important. Thomas described how “people talk about the fog of war” when describing situations where it is difficult to make decisions because information is not easily available or it is difficult to see the important facts because there is frankly too much informational noise.
Thomas explained how Direct Relief experience this same phenomenon when dealing with emergencies where supplies need to be made available where they are needed to save lives you need confidence and visibility in your supply chain.
There is added complexity in that the drugs that they make available have very specific transportation requirements which need to be managed to ensure that their integrity is maintained. “Being able to answer accurately what supplies have been sent to a disaster area and when they will arrive is critical information that people in the field need to know,” said Thomas.
Similarly, the Ebola epidemic put humanitarian supply chains to the test according to this article by Manola De Vos. The epidemic which ravaged Western Africa, represented an extremely time-pressed emergency where the slightest gap or delay in the logistics response resulted in an instant increase in suffering and life loss.
It is a positive human trait that when disasters and emergencies strike, our instinct is to want to help and with increased understanding of Corporate Social Responsibility and acting for the greater good. Organizations and individuals with specialist skills rally around to offer help and support. Unfortunately we’ve seen too many examples of where failures in the supply chain have meant that that these efforts have not yielded the required outcomes – in the context of the impact of failure this literally becomes a question of life and death.
Managing complex data from multiple sources and providing a picture of the whole story is fundamental in being able to drive an efficient supply chain – we all are proud of how we drive improvement in a business context – Thomas is rightly proud of how his organization has used these principles to continually and effectively save lives around the world – it puts it all into context.