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What businesses can learn from the Chelsea Flower Show

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Supply chain challenges

The primary logistical challenge begins months before the show – everything from the growth and safe transportation of the thousands of flowers and plants, as well as the sourcing and delivery of supporting features such as huge rocks and extravagant sculpture – need to be considered.

Then there’s the second challenge of catering for the Chelsea Flower Show’s estimated 165,000 visitors. During the 2015 show alone, 10,823 glasses of champagne were served, as well as 7,720 glasses of Pimms, 28,447 cakes, pastries and cookies and 64,144 hot drinks.

For all of this to come together and run smoothly, it’s crucial that clear milestones are set with all involved parties, so everything arrives on schedule, and that anything needed at the last minute can be delivered without incident. It’s an active process, where revisions may have to be made, and everything needs to be meticulously planned. 

Transparency is key

Efficient supply chain management cuts across functional silos and organisational boundaries. As with the Chelsea Flower Show, supply chains involve agents, importers, manufacturers, subcontractors, raw material, component suppliers and freight forwarders among others. There are many moving parts, but also lots of data involved with each. Effective management involves consolidating disparate sources, allowing users to get one consolidated view, so they can truly track their supply chain from start to finish.

In a highly competitive and increasingly global economy, businesses need this level of agility and responsiveness. Companies that achieve this are better able to exact greater organisational control and possess the flexibility needed to take advantage of small windows of opportunity, such as seasonal consumer demand. In turn, organisations are more likely to enjoy competitive advantage if they are able to effectively managing supply chains – for example, by reducing inventory whilst maintaining responsiveness to market demand.

Have a look at some of the unusual lessons you can learn:

Preparing for complexity

There is inherent complexity in today’s supply chains with multiple systems often being used to manage interconnected processes. This can make getting a clear view of the end-to-end process quite challenging. Supply chain management is fundamentally about balancing a number of priorities which often compete. For example, how do you reconcile product availability with managing inventory levels, and production efficiency while maintaining quality?

Supply chain practitioners will talk about volatility being one of the major issues – ultimately businesses need to make sure their products are available for customers to purchase. This means identifying and reducing risk in the supply chain and building resilience in the network. An effective and efficient supply chain will always be a real differentiator for any company, and many studies have shown the correlation between supply chain performance and financial results. Data and the ability to collaborate around it will always be central to a successful supply chain. The sources and complexity of data continue to grow exponentially, making the management of the KPI’s which underpin supply chain performance even more challenging, but also more important.

Grow your data capabilities – and watch the business bloom

As with the organisers of the Chelsea Flower Show, businesses face difficult decisions in a supply chain that is demanding, time-sensitive and ultra-competitive. It is imperative each have the best visibility possible to leverage any competitive advantage they can, maximising the potential of their decisions. Poor intelligence will inevitably result in adverse outcomes, to the point where attempts to prioritise cost reduction and enhanced customer service can actually end up generating the opposite outcome.

Those who hope to lead the industry must find a way to harness their data and put it into use. The ability to achieve a single view across multiple sources and to query data freely is imperative. Organisations that can easily navigate their data and gain a single-pain view across their infrastructure are likely to be the ones to best meet demand and capaitalise on new and emerging opportunities.

David Telford is senior director, sector group and industry partner lead at Qlik.

Discover the mum-friendly gift service ensuring you buy anything but flowers.

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