What New Mothers Can Teach Us About Supply Chain

New Moms Are Production, Delivery, Inventory & Customer Satisfaction Experts

Supply Chain Mom
Supply Chain Mom. Getty Images

Quick, who am I describing?  She’s an expert in manufacturing, delivery, inventory and customer service.  Is she a new mom or a supply chain pro?  Could be either-or, yes? 

Last week, I listened to a new mom discuss her process for making sure her 3 month old son had the bottles he needed as she planned to return to the office.  And it struck me – she was managing her supply chain more meticulously than many of us who are paid to do it for a living.

  Here’s what new moms can teach us about supply chain:

Customer Satisfaction – Many of us have customers who are demanding and inconsistent.  These customers may not always know what they want, and therefore change their minds frequently.  But customers like yours have nothing on the customers of a new mother.  In moments of frustration, you might be tempted to refer to your customers as “infantile”.  New moms have the luxury of calling their customers that without fear of reprisal.  And new moms know they won’t be able to rest unless they have achieved 100% customer satisfaction.  That should be your goal, too.  So how do you get your customer what it wants, when it wants it?  Learn from new moms.  Get to know your customers.  Collect and analyze the historical data and then forecast what they are going to want, even though they may not be able to tell you.  Sophisticated demand planning – i.e. knowing what your baby, I mean customer, wants before they do – that’s exactly what those new mom/experts are doing.

  Demand planning and forecast accuracy are good ways to start you on your way to 100% customer satisfaction, but you’ll also need…

Inventory Optimization – Once you forecast your customer’s needs, how do you optimize your inventory to meet that demand?  Again, learn from new moms, who have challenges that you’ll need to overcome to become a supply chain pro.

  They’re pumping breast milk and sometimes freezing it to extend its expiry dating.  They know that they need to have their inventory fresh and ready to go at a moment’s notice.  But they can’t have too much of it fresh, because it will go bad – and that means scrapping inventory.  What are your inventory challenges?  How do you keep enough inventory on hand – to keep your customers satisfied – without having too much on hand.  Holding too much inventory can mean that you’re overspending, or you’ll need a larger warehouse, or your insurance and other carrying costs are too high.  Or, if you’re a new mom, it could mean tossing a 4-ounce bag of spoiled breast milk into the garbage (a frustration only matched by a CFO watching his EBITDA shrink because of obsolete inventory).

On-Time Delivery – Getting your customers what they want, when they want it – that’s the crux of optimized supply chain.  Meeting your customers on-time delivery requirements is a result of demand planning, lead-time management and optimized inventory.  Or, if you’re that new mom, getting the baby fed at two in the morning before the crying escalates to wailing and then to fire engine.  No one wants their supplier scorecard or baby’s crying eyes to be bright red.

Production Planning – It’s one thing to manage production at a manufacturing facility.  It’s quite another thing to manage production when YOU ARE the manufacturing facility.  In order to have 100% customer satisfaction and optimized inventory and on-time delivery, it all starts with your manufacturing.  Are you making what you need, when you need it?  New moms understand production lead times and capacity planning – skills your production planners will need as an integral link in the supply chain.

As experts in manufacturing, delivery, inventory and customer service, new mothers can teach supply chain pro’s how to meet the demands of fickle, sometimes unreasonable, customers.  So the next time you see a new mother juggling her groceries, her newborn and her sanity – take a second to thank her for everything she’s contributing to the world and the world of business.