October 6, 2021

Ask the Experts: Today’s Four Biggest Supply Chain Challenges

The discipline of supply chain management is complex, high-stakes and fast-moving. But what are the absolute biggest challenges supply chain stakeholders face today? Here’s what these Elemica experts had to say.


Matt McAluney,

Elemica Chief Commercial Officer

“The prevention of supply chain disruptions is definitely top of mind these days, not just for supply chain or logistics professionals but for all business stakeholders and consumers in general. Pick an industry. Semiconductors. Packaging materials. Paint. Industrial machinery. For a number of reasons, the most visible being stressors relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, long lead times and stockouts are rife. In the developed world, it’s rare to have money and not be able to buy what you want or need, whether you’re an individual consumer, a business, an institution or a nation. Sometimes you can do everything right and still get into a tough spot. But digitizing your supply chain goes a long way toward preventing or assuaging disruptions. From automated sourcing solutions to streamlined logistics, vendor managed inventory, advanced analytics and other capabilities Elemica is in the trenches helping the world tackle one of the major business issues of our lifetime.”


Cindi Hane,

Elemica SVP of Global Enterprise Solutions

“Dozens of supply chain issues all boil down to the same ongoing mission-critical challenge: maximizing profit margins. Whether markets are changing, you can’t ship product, competitive pressures are high, corporate pressure—whatever the reason, there is unprecedented demand to lean up SG&A activities and maximize profits across practically every nation and industrial sector right now. We’re working with some of the world’s leading companies to automate supply chain functions in a way that streamlines operations to reduce admin while simultaneously improving KPIs. Order-to-cash. Procure-to-pay. Manufacturing QA/QC. We’re helping customers go function by function to re-engineer how things are done—digitizing and automating what makes sense and taking some of the burden off of opex budgets.”


Arun Samuga,

Elemica Chief Technology Officer

“I’m actually going to take a step back with my answer. Supply chains offer many challenges, and these differ by organization; thousands of variables are at play. Consider that there are approximately 41,000 public corporations listed on exchanges around the world, representing around $80 trillion dollars’ worth of market value. Some of them have global-class digital supply chain operations—connecting thousands of enterprises and streamlining dozens of business and operational functions. But many still struggle with basic supply chain visibility. Seeing inventory levels. Knowing order status. Getting delivery notifications. Just being connected to trading partners and being able to see what’s going on so they can improve decision quality is beyond their current supply chain technology infrastructure. I think, on the aggregate, achieving basic supply chain visibility worldwide is one of the biggest challenges. It’s OK to start small, but tens of thousands of companies have not yet started at all.”


Chris Lenig

SVP, Global Professional Services and Support

“Of course, for me and what I do I’m always considering buyer perspectives. Not everyone thinks about their level of supply chain digitization when they consider the customer experience, but I think protecting customer service levels is probably one of the greatest challenges in supply chain management. It takes a lot of “attaboys” to make up for just one “oops.” Order accuracy, quality standards, living up to your promises on delivery and getting the invoice right. All of these nuts and bolts functions really form the basis of the customer experience. Buyers may love your customer success and sales team. But without weeding out the manual processes and automating these functions wherever you can to ensure accuracy and prevent problems, all of the love in the world for your reps isn’t going to help you keep that account.”


Bonus Expert:

Mae Ellen Crisp Sengbusch,

Elemica Supply Chain Practice Manager

“Taking an even wider perspective as just a global citizen, I think we shouldn’t forget that climate change is one of the biggest challenges facing not only supply chain professionals, but every person and organization on the planet. The supply chain technology field isn’t much of a focus for those in the general public who care about climate change, but we help end user companies join in the fight against climate change in a pretty big way. Our platform lets customers schedule pick-ups that reduce truck idle time, optimize delivery routes for fewer road miles, consolidate or eliminate loads. In addition, we can deploy technology that enforces supplier and materials sustainability requirements, as well as enabling the visibility to track end-of-life data for products and materials in support of a circular economy.”