August 2021


Credit: Spirit Airlines
Spirit Airlines recently made public that they were conned out of almost $1 million. A material operations manager and a senior buyer conspired to send through overpriced items from a specific vendor and received kickbacks from the vendor for doing so.

While not an everyday occurrence for companies, it is common enough that if a company hasn't seen it happen, they either will in the future or lack the processes to know that it could be happening. 

I've seen this quite a few times using different methods and doesn't have to require employees to participate for the con to be effective. Usually, the reason it occurs and isn't immediately caught comes down to 2 root causes:

  1. Poor separation of duties. One of the most common issues is when the person who is requesting new supplier creation is the same as the person who approves those suppliers' invoices/POs. Not having a different staff member verify the supplier is legitimate as well as other people verifying dollar amounts are in the expected range (such as a Cost Center Manager looking at a report of all line items) are common holes that can be attacked.
  2. Insufficient processes for validating invoices and payment instructions. There should only be specific people who can update a company's Remit To address or payment instructions, and those people must have defined verification processes for each.
We've seen this happen not just when companies come to us asking to improve their processes, but it can even become apparent during an otherwise normal Corcentric technology implementation. Unlike many other companies, we review relevant processes during the implementation and provide recommendations on where to make improvements to achieve their Target Business Outcomes. Even in just the past 12 months, I've worked with clients during these implementations who do not vet new suppliers, do not have defined processes for updating bank account information, and do not have strong reporting for managers to review purchases.

These holes may not be obvious unless you are looking for them, but once found can be plugged. In the examples above, we come in with recommendations on how to fix it and then can work with the client to ensure they are properly deployed in order to maximize the reduction in fraud potential.

While companies like to think of staff as family, all it takes is one person acting maliciously for millions of dollars to be removed, and without the proper controls, the company may not realize it for years, and could never discover the truth.

Many companies across the U.S. have job openings they are desperate to fill; the same is likely true of your procurement team these days. The value of a highly effective approach to sourcing was certainly underscored by the pandemic, and companies small and large are now looking for great hires that can make them more efficient.

However, you have to consider whether you are doing enough to truly attract top talent. If not, you may find yourself struggling to compete as COVID-19 variants continue to take hold in the U.S. and beyond.

The following tips should help you get a little more out of your procurement recruiting process:

1) Write better job descriptions

First and foremost, the job descriptions you post on your own website and any career sites should be thorough without being overly long, and lay out exactly what you are looking for in a candidate, according to Planergy. To truly attract top talent, you will also want to make sure you clearly list the precise salary and benefits offerings you bring to the table.

Are you doing what you can to attract top procurement talent?Are you doing what you can to attract top procurement talent?

2) Look high and low

Your old recruiting strategies likely won't work if you have been too narrowly focused on where you source your candidates from, Planergy advised. For that reason, place listings on as many sites as you think will be relevant. While you certainly don't want to sift through hundreds of applications for a single opening, the specificity of your listing should help keep applicants to only those who are qualified.

3) Ask for recommendations

No one knows better than your employees what it takes to work in your organizational system, find new ways to innovate within those parameters, and what you're looking for in terms of a great candidate, according to Harver. For that reason, establishing a referral program that rewards people for suggesting great hires — whether they're friends, family or former colleagues — could help simplify your recruitment efforts dramatically.

4) Make sure your offerings are more than just competitive

When it comes to establishing baselines for salaries, benefits and perks, you can't just let the market dictate what you're offering, according to recruiting expert Scott Dance, writing on LinkedIn. These days, it's wise to go above and beyond the market, because that few extra thousand dollars per year — or more generous health insurance package — could be what differentiates you from your competitors, and makes you that much more effective and efficient as an operation. In that way, the best workers available end up paying for themselves.

5) Make it easier to apply

Finally, keep in mind that job seekers have likely gone through just about every application process imaginable — and therefore know what they like and what they don't, Dance added. For that reason, your application process should be as straightforward as possible. Allow people to just attach a cover letter and resume to an email, or fill out a quick form on your website. Making candidates jump through hoops is a great way to discourage the best ones from following through with their preferred method of application.

 The movement of goods from one point to another is complex - the transportation industry is a blend of the networks, infrastructure, equipment, information technology, and employee’s necessary to transport a large variety of products safely and efficiently throughout the nation and around the world. Although generally considered separate transportation entities, trains, planes, ships and trucks are actually part of an integrated network.

With such varieties in how company’s ship their goods, its impossible for two organizations to have the exact same supply chain profile. For this reason, to compare data from one shipper to the next, it can cause misguided recommendations and expectations. Benchmarking data versus industry wide historical rates or against other shippers does not account for future trends and predictive modeling.

In the Big Data Era, companies in a variety of industries, including transportation, more acutely feel the need to collect information most relevant to their businesses. They want to find a way to make decisions based on accurate information at the right time. To achieve this, the development of systems that can transform the data collected information from which to generate actions that benefit the business directly.

Some of these benefits may be:

  • Identifying growth opportunities – internal and external data analysis can help to shape and forecasting business results, allowing identification of the most profitable growth opportunities, as well as some differentiators for business
  • Improving business performance – data analysis facilitates agile planning, forecasting more accurate budgeting and improved planning is an important tool for decision making
  • Better management of risk and regulatory requirements – data analysis allows improved reporting procedures, identification of risk areas such as compliance violation, fraud or reputation damage
  • Using emerging technologies – can identify new opportunities for obtaining information relevant to business management, based on new technologies

Very few companies use the full potential of predictive analysis. On the other hand, this approach often comes into conflict with trying to keep under control and lowering IT costs. Therefore, identifying and capitalizing on available information and identifying information sources that can support the generation of new opportunities have become the main challenge.

Effective integration of predictive analysis in business management has a measurable impact on performance because it allows better planning, weather clearer and more informed decisions, resulting in increased profits, reduce risk and increase business agility.

Using predictive analytics is useful transport companies to ensure that all relevant functions involved in the process so as to obtain an overview and to minimize information leakage. Information about consumers are a typical example in this respect: sales have billing addresses data and record transactions, marketing has information obtained from the analysis of feedback coming from consumers and the logistics department has details on concrete deliveries. All this information can sometimes double or vary from one department to another.

A coherent analysis of all these data can be a challenge, but an accurate analysis and enhanced business can generate added value. 

Stop living in the past and jump on the predictive analysis train…or truck…or ship.

Just a few months ago, it seemed as though the national COVID threat was winding down. Reports of new cases across the U.S. had dropped to a few thousand a day, albeit briefly, before the so-called Delta variant — which is more infectious — started to become an issue, especially among the millions of Americans who remained unvaccinated. In recent days, new cases have climbed well past 100,000, and there likely is not an end in sight without some kind of additional intervention.

For these reasons, and because different parts of the world are experiencing their own "variant" surges, there is reason to be concerned about the effect such issues will have on the supply chain. Financial News Media recently reported that more than 4 in every 5 new coronavirus cases in the U.S. alone were the result of the Delta variant, leading federal authorities to once again urge all unvaccinated Americans to obtain the vaccine, with CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky calling it "the most powerful tool we have" to fight the disease.

How will the Delta variant affect U.S.-based procurement pros?How will the Delta variant affect U.S.-based procurement pros?

But as multiple states — especially those in the Southeast and Midwest — grapple with significant outbreaks, more research is being conducted to find new ways to deal with COVID-19, the report said. In addition to the well-known vaccines developed by Pfizer, Johnson & Johnson and Moderna in recent months, it should be noted that Biovaxys is also developing a vaccine, but it's only in clinical trials at this time.

Potential impact
To gain a true understanding of how such an outbreak in the U.S. could end up affecting the economy and supply chain, one need only look at what is now happening in the U.K., where the Delta variant now has a strong hold on the nation. According to the latest data from the IHS Markit/CIPS U.K. manufacturing index, private-sector growth hit a recent low in July after posting strong recovery numbers for most of the year, though it was still considered strong in comparison with recent months and, indeed, much of the last five years.

However, it was the second straight month in which the private sector increased at a slower rate, and that trend may be a point of concern after the economy worked so hard to recover after the widespread release of the various COVID vaccines.

In the meantime
For now, the global recovery is still continuing apace — not all major countries are dealing with variant outbreaks, after all — but as these variants gain a foothold in highly developed nations, the likelihood of economic disruption rises, according to The Wall Street Journal. Additional "waves" of the virus could be disruptive on a global level; while economists believe growth in the U.S. "peaked" in the second quarter, the global peak isn't expected to come until the end of the third quarter worldwide.

This may be an issue already affecting procurement pros in the U.S., and if it isn't yet, it likely will be in the near future. As such, any fallback plans you can craft now could help you significantly in the months ahead.

Across a number of industries, tight supply chains have led to higher costs that are being passed along to consumers in some way or another. However, one issue that many may not consider is that such tightness constricts the supply chain itself, and with so much demand to unwind, it's leading to extreme price increases across the sector.

These days, shippers of all shapes and sizes simply cannot handle the level of demand that manufacturers, retailers and consumers are generating, and it's resulting in significant cost increases for just about any kind of land, sea and air freight, according to American Shipper. For instance, to send items via shipping container overseas, the cost used to be $4,000 — but has risen to $18,000 in recent months because there are only so many ships and containers available. It's basic supply and demand, but it's putting the squeeze on just about everyone relying on shipped goods and materials.

Prices for shipping containers are rising sharply.Prices for shipping containers are rising sharply.

Moreover, these issues are only anticipated to get worse and become more widespread, the report said.

"The supply chain is a disaster," William Taylor, CEO of the heavy equipment manufacturer the Taylor Group, told lawmakers at a recent hearing held by the Senate Commerce Committee. "This situation is causing inflation to run rampant throughout the supply chain. So far, we have kept our lines running but are facing 30% to 75% price increases from our vendors and transportation companies. The worst part is that we have orders, but we don't have confidence in our supply chains to meet the demand. The same story is playing out in thousands of manufacturers across America."

What's the impact?
Apart from the obvious effect of companies and consumers alike paying more for freight, costs are also rising for raw materials and finished products because everything in the supply chain is so backed up, according to Reuters. In a recent survey of major U.S. companies, there were similar reports of higher costs for all kinds of things from major names, including PepsiCo, Caterpillar, Travelers, Hasbro and more.

Some of these price increases are relatively small — 2% for Harley-Davidson, 6% for McDonald's — while others, like the 16% increase implemented by Dow, are far more sizable, the survey showed.

Serious concerns looming?
Due to all these issues, and the fact that there is seemingly no end in sight for many of them, some experts are now warning that inflation is becoming a major issue in the U.S., according to CNN Business. Part of the issue here is that there are lingering COVID concerns around the Delta variant, which may force lawmakers to institute more lockdowns and potentially do further harm to the economy. However, some experts believe the variant could actually help reduce demand and, therefore, allow prices to cool off once again.

This is obviously something that supply chain professionals are already keeping a close eye on, but one way to avoid these issues may be to craft contingency plans that allow them to pivot to different suppliers as needed to minimize the effects of bottlenecks.

Procurement managers in just about every industry had a lot on their plate in the past year and a half, and there are still lingering issues that affect local, regional and global supply chains. That having been said, these decision-makers must start thinking about what their post-pandemic procurement strategies will look like, and how they will go from their current operations to that hoped-for approach to their jobs.

While the U.S. is certainly not out of the woods yet when it comes to the COVID-19 pandemic — and recent "Delta variant" infection numbers are clearly not encouraging — the end is potentially in sight, and procurement leaders have plenty of options for what lies ahead, according to Spend Matters. Prior to the pandemic, procurement was a crucial part of any organization but often not recognized as such. That likely isn't the case anymore, and the good news is when purchasing managers and team members speak up, others in the company are far more likely to listen.

With that level of organizational support, you can be more confident that your needs and concerns will be heard and addressed, the report said. Some of the changes you've made during the pandemic have likely already positioned your team well for a post-COVID future, but further tweaks will inevitably need to take place as well, and you have to be ready and willing to take those steps.

Crafting the right new procurement strategy might require a brief step back.Crafting the right new procurement strategy might require a brief step back.

What's next?
While you almost certainly spent much of 2020 in supply chain "response" mode and are now in "recovery" mode, looking to the future means you might have to take some steps back in the near term, according to Deloitte. To truly thrive, you face what may be considered a "reliance paradox" — your supply chain has to be resilient, and finding the right mix of strategies will likely take some experimentation. That, in turn, could briefly affect your overall supply chain operations, but everything you do should be pursued with the idea that you are insulating yourself from even greater difficulties in the future.

As long as your supply chain is highly visible and diversified, and you have a clearer understanding of your inventory and customer demand needs, you will likely be ready to handle any additional hiccups — even those that are highly disruptive to other businesses in your field, the report said.

Getting it right
For these reasons, McKinsey says you would be wise to focus on the following for boosting your supply chain resilience: rethink sourcing strategies by category, develop partnerships with better partners, accelerate data adoption and interpretation, and work to become more agile when the need arises.

The more you can do to bring all of your company's procurement efforts under a single, uniform strategy and department, the better off you will be when it comes to being able to meet all your needs post-pandemic — whenever that may be.

Supply chain problems in Eastern Asia (and beyond) are hardly new, but they have taken yet another twist in recent weeks. After production and shipping shutdowns, slowdowns and backlogs, industrial activity in China was just getting back toward pre-pandemic levels, and has once again faced difficulties — this time from major flooding in regions around the nation.

The Henan province in central China, only a few hundred miles from Beijing, is home to the city of Zhegzhou, which is not only home to robust economic activity, but a hub through which much of the country's transportation runs, according to Reuters. Lately, it has been positively inundated with downpours. The flooding that's resulted has made it challenging to ship much-needed materials, including coal from further-out regions.

"As Zhengzhou is a top national transportation hub and Henan province is a major producer of grains, raw materials and some manufactured products like iPhones, we believe the rainfall and flooding will have a material impact on business activity and inflation in the short term," Nomura analysts wrote in a recent note to clients.

Flooding in Henan will impact consumers all over the world.Flooding in Henan will impact consumers all over the world.

So far, rising waters have flooded subways, washed away vehicles, cut off roads (stranding thousands of drivers) and disrupted electric and cell phone service throughout the area, the report said. More than 100 million people live in the province — roughly equal to the combined populations of California, Texas, New York, and North Carolina — and many are already seeing prices for things like food and transportation rise.

A global impact
While the short- and long-term agricultural output of the region is likely to only affect this particular part of the world, the impact seen around the globe could be substantial, according to the South China Morning Post. For example, Foxconn, which manufactures iPhones for Apple, has multiple plants in the province, including two in Zhengzhou, where thousands of workers were recently placed on leave even as its largest facility remained open.

For now, the company says, there will be "no direct impact" on that large facility, which is home to the bulk of iPhone production, but the flooding has already displaced some 1.2 million people — and more rain is in the forecast, the report said. Some of the biggest floods in Chinese history have happened in and around Zhengzhou because the city sits on the banks of the Yellow River, between two mountain ranges that generate more rain and force water downward from the mountains.

Assessing the supply chain
Of course, China and other countries around Eastern Europe through which manufactured goods and raw materials are shipped overseas are still trying to unwind pent-up demand from the COVID-19 pandemic, according to Foreign Policy. These floods — described by weather experts as the kind of rainfall that happens "once in a thousand years" — only add another headache. Beyond disrupting production and transport, a number of factories, including those owned by Apple and Nissan, have been "wrecked."

This is something everyone in the supply chain needs to be mindful of, especially because major weather events of this type are only likely to become more common globally in the years ahead — everywhere in the world.


I recently needed to obtain a client relationship representative at five companies
for an RFP sourcing initiative I was executing.
I had no contacts in my on-line rolodex or direct connection through LinkedIn.
What a nightmare this simple task became.

My process:

Step 1 Reach out to people within the company I work for and inquire if anyone had contacts with the potential Suppliers. – No luck

Step 2, Look up each company website for a phone number to call –  the only option was  fill out a form and someone would get back to me – maybe… each website was seeking all kinds of information and there was no way to bypass this process and just state my request and press send…

I was not going to spend 10 minutes filling out fields for the supplier to decide if they wanted to engage in a conversation – how many employees, location, budget for the service etc.…

My frustration was building, Dang it – 
            All I wanted was a human voice to chat with and I would explain the purpose of my call.

Step 3, Go back to my email rolodex and reach out to former colleges that might have connections to any of these companies – No luck

Step 4, Go to LinkedIn and look up the individual companies to see if I could connect with a Client Relationship Manager or Customer Service Representative by sending a LinkedIn message – No luck. 

I was blocked!  I do not have a paid Premium Membership with LinkedIn which was required to contact members at 3 of the Suppliers the client wanted vetted.

             Of the two Suppliers where I could send a message to an employee… 
            one never responded (even though she did have over 300 connections).    

             The second person who received my message did respond 
            - with a link to fill out a form to see a demo – NOT WHAT I WANTED!

Do companies not want business??? My frustration was at a peak, plus I was baffled.

Have we become so automated that human interaction for business transactions has evaporated?

Every company website home page should have a phone number or contact us with direct contacts, 

this is my strong opinion… 

The result:

Two of the Suppliers that our client was interested in vetting for the RFP lost their chance to participate because I gave up

Eventually through colleges inquiring to colleges they know in the telecommunications arena; I was eventually introduced to each supplier representative.  To obtain the correct contact person for the remaining three companies took over 8 hours of time during a week.  This is not a good business practice/face to present – it shouldn’t matter if you sell a hammer or managed security services or network hardware gear – a Supplier is a Supplier and all businesses need clients to survive…The doors must be open for a potential client to walk in and in my case the walk in required a telephone conversation.

The postscript: After my initial conversation with each supplier I asked for the CEO’s email address and sent a message.  Since receipt of my emails all three Suppliers have either added a phone number or way to write an inquiry through their website that does not ask vetting questions…

About Corcentric: Procurement Services are EASY to engage!  888-909-3894 or email me and I will personally introduce you to the correct person in the appropriate department to answer your questions.

Corcentric’s Sourcing team is made up of subject matter experts; covering areas from Telecommunications hardware/software/voice and data services, to Managed Security Services and IPaaS solutions.  Our strengths include providing real-time insights to the requirement building, carrier identification phase including but not limited to just the sourcing and negotiation phases.  We take a strategic approach in facilitating and managing a RFP process where we identify opportunities that align with both the short-term vision and long-term objectives of our clients.  

Corcentric leverages our proven process and best practices, keeping carriers engaged and motivated about the opportunity.  By managing the carriers throughout the process, we ensure our clients have visibility into all viable options for its requirements in terms of carriers, technologies, contract, and pricing approaches.   As an outcome of the sourcing process, we provide our insights so that our clients make informed decisions regarding which carriers are best matched to their specific requirements and future state growth.

The hype around the petroleum-free future for motor vehicles of all types has been ever-growing in recent years, to the point that even the holdouts in the automotive industry are getting into the game. Major manufacturers are pouring billions into the development of fully electric vehicles these days, in an effort to be on the cutting edge of a technology consumers seem to be increasingly demanding. However, experts say that, in doing so, they are making all aspects of the automotive supply chain more complicated.

Today, fully electric vehicles account for fewer than 1 in every 20 vehicles sold around the world, but gas-powered vehicles are likely to be a thing of the past sooner than later, according to The Wall Street Journal. At major names like Mercedes-Benz and General Motors, there is no further development being done on new gas engines, in part because developers believe they are reaching the physical endpoint of fuel efficiency with these motors (fuel efficiency has roughly doubled since 1975). Instead, they are planning to transition current lines of vehicles to fully electric over the next decade-plus.

Plug-in electric vehicles will completely re-order the automotive industry.Plug-in electric vehicles will completely re-order the automotive industry.

But with that transition comes major change: When companies develop new engines, they typically tap hundreds of suppliers. Leaving all previously developed electric engines behind or asking automakers to pivot to meet all-electric demand is perhaps unfeasible, the report said. Meanwhile, it will likely require automakers to build numerous plants to produce battery cells, plans for which are underway — GM already has one built, with more on the way.

Diminishing supply chain issues?
From a supply-chain perspective, a growing share of battery cells and packs used in these vehicles are manufactured within the U.S., according to analysis from the U.S. Department of Energy. As recently as four years ago, the vast majority of production was done in South Korea and Japan, but the U.S. has overtaken every other country in the world combined in terms of production capacity.

"Since 2018, 70% of battery cell capacity and 87% of battery pack capacity produced for U.S. [light-duty plug-in electric vehicles] came from the United States," the DOE report said.

The current situation
When it comes to the big names in fully electric vehicles, Tesla stands out above the rest in the U.S., and it has been having supply chain difficulties of its own in recent months, according to CleanTechnica. While the company reported in July that it pushed some 207,000 vehicles off production lines in the second quarter alone, it encountered "global supply chain and logistics challenges" — some of which have resulted in cost increases.

Over the past few months, Tesla brought prices up 5% specifically due to "major supply chain price pressure" such as shortages of raw materials and microchips, the report said. That, in turn, led Tesla to stop producing its Model 3 electric vehicle in California in early 2020. However, things seem to be back on track for the automaker almost a year and a half later, even if issues persist.

Of course, Tesla is a relatively small automaker in the larger automotive world and, as more companies compete for the materials needed to produce electric vehicles, further complications could arise.

Due largely to the problems that cropped up throughout the coronavirus pandemic, strengthening the supply chain within the U.S. to better meet business and public-sector needs has come into focus in recent months. Indeed, lawmakers and other decision-makers at the federal level are now working on developing ways to undergird the domestic supply chain so the flow of goods can continue uninterrupted when external stressors arise.

The Senate Commerce Committee recently held hearings on this subject, with the particular understanding that the supply chain is a key component of a functioning economy, which therefore requires more support at the federal level, according to Transport Topics. Commerce Committee Chairwoman Maria Cantwell recently noted that the need for legislation on this is now clear, especially when it comes to issues around shipping petroleum, semiconductor chips and more.

Congress now recognizes the true importance of the supply chain.Congress now recognizes the true importance of the supply chain.

John Miller, senior vice president of policy and general counsel at the Information Technology Industry Council, said at the hearing, "A successful supply chain resiliency strategy must widen the aperture to consider a full array of relevant threats and considerations, not only to address identifiable, material, concrete national security risks directly tied to actionable threats articulated in [U.S. government] intelligence or vulnerability assessments, but also to consider other facets of resiliency including supply chain resiliency investments, U.S. competitiveness, availability and domestic manufacturing capacity."

Coming into focus
This hearing was held just a week before the House Armed Services Committee's Defense Critical Supply Chain Task Force released the findings of a study which showed the current supply chain the U.S. Department of Defense relies upon could be at greater risk than previously believed, according to Defense News. Why? Because "a significant amount of material in the Defense Industrial Base is sole-sourced from the People's Republic of China."

Consequently, the task force recommended that the DOD do more to understand the full extent of its supply chain and highly vulnerabilities that may exist within it, the report said. This is particularly true when it comes to materials used in a number of mission-critical manufacturing processes, including semiconductors, rare-earth elements, ballistic propellants and ingredients used to make pharmaceuticals.

Bills advancing
With so much focus on all these issues, it should come as no surprise that legislators are now introducing bills that would boost security and flexibility in the supply chain, according to MeriTalk. These include the Information and Communication Technology Strategy Act, Communications Security Advisory Act of 2021 and FUTURE Networks Act, among many others that are likely to receive bipartisan support.

The more those in the logistics and supply chain industries can do to understand the ways laws could change in the near future, the better off they will be when it comes to staying agile and ready to deal with any new regulatory requirements they face. That kind of extra preparation and flexibility will serve them well as the nation continues to shore up its collective weaknesses in the supply chain.

As with any other part of a great business operation, it's vital to make sure that all members of your procurement team are able to work in concert toward the same goals on an ongoing basis. Of course, that's often easier said than done because your company might have procurement efforts spread across multiple departments.

For that reason, those in charge of purchasing needs to be on the same page, increase their collaboration and work to continually improve relationships with one another. The following advice will help you do just that:

1) Recognize greatness in collaboration

You no doubt have a number of team members under your roof who get along well and work effectively together — it's time to celebrate their accomplishments, according to Blink. When you can give a few staffers, or an entire team, a small financial reward or public recognition for working together effectively to meet deadlines or budget goals, that provides a clear incentive and model behavior for the rest of your employees.

A great plan for teamwork helps your entire company.A great plan for promoting teamwork helps your entire company.

2) Improve communication efforts

Often, efforts to boost collaboration and teamwork fall short because your communication processes aren't up to snuff when it comes to meeting modern procurement needs, Blink added. Not only do they need to be able to improve communications with one another, but they also need to be able to provide and receive feedback to managers more effectively, so that all involved can make more informed decisions.

3) Clearly define goals and roles

Part and parcel with efforts to improve communication is the need to spell out exactly what is expected of everyone, according to Toggl. That way, there is no opportunity for uncertainty or for important aspects of your internal processes to slip through the cracks because there was a misunderstanding of who was supposed to be responsible for what.

4) Stamp out conflict before it starts

When working with even one other person, conflict regarding the best path forward and a clash of personalities is often inevitable. But you can't allow negative issues to fester, Toggl said. When you create an environment in which disagreements are handled amicably and, perhaps, brings in the opinion of more than one outside party, everyone will understand that they are being heard and treated fairly, but that sometimes, their preferred method for dealing with a problem may not be ideal in a given situation.

5) Focus on what you're doing well

It will be important to make sure your team members can always take a critical look at what they are doing and speak openly about what's working, what isn't, and why, according to Jostle. That way, you can streamline processes and ensure your operations — and ability to collaborate — remain top-notch.

6) Prioritize compromise

Finally, you have to understand that not all situations are going to work out exactly how any individual members of your team might want, and that compromise will be critical to keeping everyone on good terms, Jostle added. If you can arrive at a solution that works, it's a benefit to the entire team, even if it's not exactly how some might have envisioned it initially.

The microprocessor chip shortage seen around the world has grabbed plenty of headlines and ground numerous supply chains to a halt for months now — and it's expected to continue well into 2022. Of course, the countless companies that rely on the easy flow of these chips through global supply lines can't wait around for the better part of another year for things to get back to pre-pandemic norms. For that reason, industry groups are now urging federal lawmakers to lend a hand.

Earlier this year, Congress passed a bill known as the Chips Act, built into the annual defense funding bill, that would incentivize manufacturers to build factories that produce chips within the U.S., according to Bloomberg News. Crucially, however, the funding for those incentives and grants was never pushed through along with the bill itself, so officials from the Semiconductor Industry Association and 19 other organizations recently sent a letter to top lawmakers urging them to find the funding necessary (some $52 billion) to underwrite the bill.

Microchips are likely to remain hard to come by for some time.Microchips are likely to remain hard to come by for some time.

"To be competitive and strengthen the resilience of critical supply chains, we believe the U.S. needs to incentivize the construction of new and modernized semiconductor manufacturing facilities and invest in research capabilities," group leaders said in the letter. "The need is urgent and now is the time to act. We look forward to working with you on this national priority."

What's the issue?
Over the past few decades, the U.S. standing in the microchip manufacturing sector has certainly faltered, according to Richard Howells of the tech giant SAP's supply chain management department, writing for Forbes. In the early 1990s, the U.S. was responsible for making more than 1 in every 3 microchips in the world, but today, that number is closer to 1 in every 8.

With more chips being imported to the U.S. these days, that leaves supply chains highly vulnerable to any number of risks, and the work stoppages and backlog engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic showed just how much of an issue this would be, the report said. With no end to the shortage in sight, at least for the near term, it's not that lawmakers speeding up funding will lessen the impact anytime soon — but rather that investment now would insulate the U.S. from future risk.

The short-term impact
As mentioned, the global chip shortage arose not because of COVID shutdowns directly, but due to those relatively brief shutdowns created huge, pent-up demand that would take well over a year to unwind. Indeed, the Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company recently announced that its production of chips in the first half of 2021 had increased 30% on an annual basis, with plans to double that number by year's end, according to Supply Chain Dive. But even that extra effort isn't likely to be enough to meet global needs until at least the start of next year, if not longer, because since demand continues to grow.

With all this in mind, it's vital for those in the supply chain to continually assess risk and generate whatever fallback plans may be feasible at any given time. With contingencies in place, the impact of disruptions may be reduced.

During the last 16 months, the Covid-19 pandemic has plagued the supply chain. Specific industries, like construction with lumber shortages and the automobile industry with microchip, continue to slowly recover and still have a long way to go.

But the new variant of Covid-19, known as the delta variant, could stand in the way of a full recovery being around the corner. And it has yet to be seen how this variant, which has spread rather quickly over the last several weeks, could hamper this recovery in an already tightened supply chain.

How is the variant impacting supply chain?

While leadership, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, has claimed no lock downs are around the corner, the numbers are certainly worsening. According to the Washington Post, cases rose by 55 percent last week. Additionally, deaths rose by 29 percent and hospitalizations rose by 42 percent.

Last week, the CDC has made recommendations for mask mandates to be back in place for even those who are unvaccinated. These mandates have been put back in place in some spots across the country including Washington D.C. and Las Vegas, and implies the possibility of more potential restrictions around the corner.

At the moment, it does not appear that the delta variant will create shutdowns comparable to what was put in place at the onset of the pandemic in March. But, this does not mean there will be no measurable impact on supply chain.

According to Reuters, several countries in Asia saw a decrease in factory production in July that was specifically related to a surge in cases. Additionally, the delta variant’s quick rise has led to many countries not allowing access to sailors – a big problem, considering that 90% of the world’s trade is done by ships.

Just last week, Toyota had to stop production at plants in Asia because they were unable to get parts. U.K. factories were shut down because employees were forced to isolate to avoid the spread of the new variant. According to an executive at a South Korea auto parts producer, a rise in steel prices related to the higher transportation costs is having a negative impact on production.

While the delta variant might not lead to another full economic shutdown, its current impacts on the economy are undeniable.

What about other factors impacting supply chain?

But the delta variant alone is not the only thing that is impacting supply chain.

Domestically, workforce shortages are also having an impact that is preventing supply chain to get back to pre-pandemic levels. According to National Association of Manufacturers CEO Jay Timmons via CNBC, there are 851,000 open jobs in manufacturing – a figure that is expected to increase to over 2 million by 2030.

Globally, last month’s floods in Europe and China have had devastating impacts. Specifically, the floods in China have slowed importation of coal, which is needed for factory production.

What can you do?

The delta variant, in addition to workforce shortages and last month's floods, serve as a reminder of how quickly the supply chain can change. It is important for companies to remain flexible because of this, and to have contingencies in place as the availability and price of raw materials ebbs and flows.

Some materials are better sourced in an RFP process. The best strategy for other products that are seeing rising prices that may soon again fall could be to search for the lowest price on the market. Turning to Corcentric to help create a strategy to source your needs will help combat the consequences of this tightening supply chain.






Whether most people know it or not, a large and growing percentage of our lives is based around technology that needs rare earth minerals to operate — and as such, the supply chain for these materials is a major issue around the world. Large quantities of these minerals are mined overseas and important to manufacturing centers, but within the U.S., there are deposits that need to be mined, processed and shipped.

Recently, an energy company based in Georgia began mining a substance called monazite, and shipped 20 tons of the rare-earth carbonate to Utah for processing, according to Freightwaves. From there, it was sent to another plant in Estonia so that it could be refined further and used in the manufacture of high-end electronics. As one of just two operations mining rare earth materials in the U.S., getting a more efficient supply chain off the ground is a must.

Rare earth mineral supply chains are just getting underway in the U.S.Rare earth mineral supply chains are just getting underway in the U.S.

"We didn't even know we had a role to play in the industry until probably a year and a half ago," Curtis Moore, a vice president at the energy company, told the site. "[Monazite] is very high in magnetic rare earth elements — that's neodymium, praseodymium, dysprosium and terbium — which are the raw materials you need for these permanent rare earth magnets used in everything from electric cars to fighter jets."

Numerous companies are in the planning phase for introducing mining and processing efforts within the U.S., but it may take some time before the nation is able to handle these materials within their own borders at scale, the report said.

Outside competition
With so much riding on access to rare earth minerals, and the U.S. still largely in the nascent stages of being able to meet any kind of real demand for them on its own, lawmakers are nonetheless taking a hard look at where they are sourced, according to Politico. Currently, a significant percentage of them are sourced from China, and that may be a problem for the U.S. Department of Defense and other entities, because international relations between the U.S., its allies, and the East Asian titan are volatile. That, in turn, creates supply chain risk that could leave the military and other critical aspects of the American economy in a vulnerable position.

Recently, a bipartisan Congressional task force asked the Defense Department to "deploy the full range of American innovation to secure the supply chains involving rare earth elements" so if normal sources aren't fully available, fallback positions can be easily leveraged, the report said.

Why it's important
Currently, one of the most common uses for rare earth minerals is in the manufacture of renewable energy technology and adjacent products, such as solar panels, wind turbines, and electric vehicles, according to the Institution of Engineering and Technology. The supply chain needed to meet ever-growing demand for these materials from a "greening" energy sector is clear, but there is also environmental risk inherent to increased mining and shipping operations.

For all these reasons and more, decision-makers in a number of sectors must keep a close eye on the rare earth mineral supply chain and its development within the U.S. and abroad.

Issues with the supply chain were quite common and gained a lot of attention throughout 2020, and especially in the early days of the novel coronavirus pandemic, but they have also persisted at a lower level ever since. This has affected a number of industries, not the least of which is the restaurant sector, where shortages of food and ingredients have become a serious issue in recent months the world over.

For instance, Korean chains say they are facing a major shortage of potatoes needed to meet demand for french fries, and green tea is increasingly hard to come by in the U.S., according to Reuters. The reason why? Snags in the supply chain. Customs checks for international shipping are taking longer these days thanks to an increased focus on health and safety due to the pandemic, and also because bottlenecks in other types of shipping have made containers needed to send food items overseas harder to come by.

Large quantities of chicken and other popular foods are increasingly difficult to come by.Large quantities of chicken and other popular foods are increasingly difficult to come by.

Experts say this is not a temporary problem, having lasted many months already, and are expected to extend well into next year as well, the report said. Simply put, there is so much pent-up shipping demand that needs to unwind, that all types of supply chains will likely remain constricted. However, this also comes at a time when lockdowns around the U.S. and elsewhere are also coming to an end, so demand for food products in particular is on the rise as people return to their pre-pandemic behavior.

On the ground
Of course, it's not just a lack of shipping capacity that is affecting restaurants and stores all over the world, according to Transport Topics. Many companies across all industries are also coping with a worker shortage or trying to make up for lost time that resulted from COVID shutdowns. This means that even when things are being delivered, they're not arriving in the quantities restaurants need to satisfy demand.

Moreover, those in the industry say the issues are getting more difficult to navigate as business activity ramps up, the report said. Meanwhile, minimum order requirements are on the rise from suppliers, putting a different kind of squeeze on restaurants and consumers as costs continue to rise.

Not just small outfits
This is an issue affecting everyone from small, family-run restaurants to those with thousands of locations around the world, according to Yahoo Finance. Taco Bell, under the umbrella of mega-corporation Yum Brands (which also owns KFC, Pizza Hut and more), says it has seen numerous restaurants running low on basic ingredients in its offerings, including beef, tortillas, chicken and even hot sauce. The issue has become so widespread the restaurant recently placed a banner notification in its dedicated app warning users of "national ingredient shortages."

With no end in sight to this issue, it's important for restaurants to keep an eye on these shortages and continually strategize to find solutions that can keep their customers happy and their operations running smoothly.