Who Needs a Strategic Supply Chain Plan?

Moving from transactional to transformational supply chain leadership

The AHRMM 2012 Healthcare Provider Executive Supply Chain Survey and Executive Thought Leader Forum reported that the use of written strategic supply chain plans is on the rise. In fact, 4 in 10 C-level executives and supply chain leaders indicated that they have such a plan to guide their passage from transactional to transformative supply chain leadership.

These same executives felt that this transformation was mission critical for supply chain leaders to prepare for healthcare reform. No longer can supply chain leaders be fixated on the tactical aspects of their job; they now need to look at the “big picture” and become strategic thinkers. The best way to do so is with an annual written strategic supply chain plan defining the strategy (or, direction) tactics and resources that you will employ, on any given year that aligns with your healthcare organization’s own master strategic plan.

Your strategic supply chain plan can be based on a calendar year or fiscal year – it doesn’t matter. For example, if your hospital is planning to establish an Accountable Care Organization (ACO), the focus of your strategic supply chain plan needs to be on supporting such a venture. One colleague of mine, who is in this exact situation, put in his strategic supply chain plan this year to upgrade his value analysis analytics tools and then reorganize, re-train and reenergize his value analysis team to support his hospital’s goal of incentivizing their surgeons to reduce their PPI cost. These tactics came about because he realized, as he developed his plan, his current data mining tools and value analysis team weren’t up to this challenge. This also enabled him to budget for these upgrades in a timely fashion. Coincidently, your annual budget preparation should flow from the decisions that you have made in our strategic supply chain planning process.

SWOT analysis
The starting point for all strategic plans is to appraise the strengths and weaknesses or gaps in your supply chain operations and cost reduction programs, and then devise new tactics to eliminate the gaps that are uncovered. This is often called a SWOT analysis (strengths, weakness, opportunities and threats) that can be accomplished through customer and vendor surveys, benchmarking of your peers best practices and visits to other healthcare organizations.

Next, you want to define your vision, mission and objectives for the New Year in terms of what your aspirations are, one, two, and five years out. You will need to ask the following questions: What savings, quality and safety goals are real and achievable? What policies and procedures are required to align them with your healthcare organization’s master strategic plan? What talent or skill sets do you need in your employees so they will be creative enough to meet the challenges in the New Year? What problems or hurdles can you anticipate that would threaten the success of your strategic supply chain plan?

Although somewhat time consuming, this important strategic supply chain planning process will position your supply chain department or division to be successful, rather than just let things happen in an unplanned and disorganized manner. If developed properly, (and revised annually) your strategic supply chain plan will provide you and your department or division with a roadmap for your supply chain operations to follow over the next few years, thereby, increasing your probability of success. Just as important, this is what your senior management is saying they are looking for in their supply chain leaders: someone who is visionary, proactive and transformative!


Robert T. Yokl is president and chief value strategist of Strategic Value Analysis® In Healthcare, which is the acknowledged healthcare authority in value analysis and utilization management. Yokl has nearly 38 years of experience as a healthcare materials manager and supply chain consultant, and also is the co-creator of the new Utilizer® Dashboard that moves beyond price for even deeper and broader utilization savings. For more information, visit www.strategicva.com. For questions or comments, e-mail Yokl at bobpres@strategicva.com.

Robert T. Yokl About Robert T. Yokl

Robert T. Yokl is president and chief value strategist of Strategic Value Analysis® In Healthcare, which is the acknowledged healthcare authority in value analysis and utilization management. Yokl has nearly 38 years of experience as a healthcare materials manager and supply chain consultant, and also is the co-creator of the new Utilizer® Dashboard that moves beyond price for even deeper and broader utilization savings. For more information, visit www.strategicva.com. For questions or comments, e-mail Yokl at bobpres@strategicva.com.

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