Optimize Your Marriage

Demand, customer satisfaction, on time delivery. Supply chain or marriage?

Love and Supply Chain
Love and Supply Chain. Getty Images

You have your demands.  You know what you want and when you want it.  You expect your partner to deliver on those needs – and if your partner can not do that, you expect your partner to communicate that to you.

On the other side of the equation, you know what you’re able to provide.  You know when you can provide it and have a sense of what providing it will cost you (in terms of time, effort and any other resources).

  You also know, for the most part, what your partner needs.  You know this because of either history or the season or because your partner has communicated those demands to you.  And if those demands change, you expect your partner to communicate those changes to you.  How else can you be effective at supplying what your partner needs?

Is that a description of your marriage or your supply chain?  Supply… demand… delivery…?  It could be either.

Exactly. 

The same tools that should be used to optimize your supply chain can be used to optimize your marriage (and your other personal relationships!).  The question then becomes – in my marriage, “Am I the customer or am I the supplier?”  And the answer – as always in life – can be found in supply chain.  For you see, you are both.

Supply chains are defined by perspective.  Where you sit on your supply chain continuum informs how the others in your supply chain are categorized.

  If you work at Mattel, Wal-Mart is your customer.  But on the weekends, you become a customer and Wal-Mart becomes your supplier.  Again, perspective.  In supply chain, you, like Wal-Mart, are typically both a supplier and a customer.  And so it is true in your marriage.  In your marriage you are both a customer and a supplier – i.e. you both want your demand to be fulfilled and you need to fulfill the demand of your husband or wife.

  And supply chain is here to help.

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) – Customers can be demanding and inconsistent.  They may not always know what they want, and therefore change their mind frequently.  But they expect that you know what they want and deliver it.  Supply chain managers are experts at making customers feel like they’re getting what they want all the time, when really the supply chain pro is forging a win-win relationship.  In your marriage, when you are the supplier and your spouse is the customer, keep in mind the tools that make CRM successful.  Communication, for one.  Be proactive about keeping the information flowing back and forth.  Even if your customer/spouse isn’t prepared to communicate with you, you need to schedule a conference call, on-site meeting or date night to sort things out.  It’s during the times when you, as a supplier/spouse, feel like there’s an information black-out, that it’s really important to communicate.  These information black-outs are typically when re-opening lines of communication can reveal critical data that may save your account/marriage.  Information black-outs might mean that your customer has been attempting to find a new supplier to replace you.

  Re-open communication, find out why and save your account/marriage.  Is it your product quality, your costs, your on-time delivery or is your customer/spouse looking for other supplier options?  You won’t know without a viable CRM program. 

Supplier Relationship Management (SRM) – On the flipside, when a supply chain manager is engaged in SRM, the supply chain manager is the customer.  When your spouse is the supplier and you need to manage the relationship from the customer perspective, again, supply chain tools can help.  However, one of the main tools used in SRM isn’t one I’d recommend in a marriage.  The use of metrics to prove your supplier/spouse isn’t meeting your expectations probably ought to be avoided.  A bar graph full of red might get the message across but it may not endear your spouse to try harder the next time, like it might a non-metaphorical supplier.

  Your supplier/spouse is trying to supply you what you want, when you want it but you, as the customer/spouse, need to understand your supplier/spouse’s capacity.  You would never ask a supplier with a 1,000 widget per day capacity to ship you 10,000 widgets per day – and therefore you need to understand what your supplier/spouse is capable of prior to setting your demands.  (This capability study really should take place during the sourcing phase of a marriage – sometimes called “dating.”)  When you’re performing SRM in a marriage, you communicate your needs regularly and clearly.  And when your supplier/spouse is going to fall short of meeting those needs, they should feel like they can communicate that with you ahead of time. 

Optimized supply chain works because of the communication between supply partners and customers.  Optimized marriages can work the very same way.