You do not have to look very far to find someone talking about supply chain issues. They are all over the news, and we are all living them as consumers who cannot reliably access expected food products or find the exact vehicle we would like — new or used.
Chances are, you are living them at work, too, especially if you are an IT project manager or work in any adjacent field.
But what specifically is in short supply — that also matters to you as an IT project manager? You have likely already run into a few issues or items, but it is helpful to go a little deeper.
Understanding the root causes, while complex, helps you know how to pivot and navigate your various projects during this complicated, confusing time.
Below, we will look at three technology supply chain disruptions likely to impact project managers and their IT deployment projects. Plus, we will give you some guidance on what to do about them.
1. The Elephant in the Room: The Chip Shortage
We cannot possibly start anywhere else besides this: there is a massive shortage of semiconductors, the chips that power electronic devices ranging from vehicle navigation systems to IoT devices to commercial touchscreens.
In short, if it has a screen or does anything smart or automatic, it needs one or more chips. And those are hard to get right now.
We do not have the space to go too deep into the why, but suffice it to say, there are four driving factors:
- COVID-related factory shutdowns
- A near monopoly on chip production (three primary makers supply the world)
- Increased consumer demand
- The sheer cost, complexity, and timescale of getting new factories built
All these coalesce and make life difficult for manufacturers who need chips — and people who need IT products to install for their customers, like field services and service delivery teams.
What You Can Do
So, what should you do? First, brace for price increases, even ones that outpace inflation. This shortage is unsolvable in the short term, so manufacturers will respond by raising prices.
Second, order early. Your previous timeframes for sourcing materials will not work anymore.
Getting what you need in the timeframe you need it will require backing up the ordering process by weeks, if not months.
2. Changes in Consumer Behavior
COVID-19 created significant changes in consumer behavior, including what they want to buy and how they want to be served. Some of these changes have further disrupted supply chains.
In the QSR world, for example, restaurants rushed to modernize systems and spaces to accommodate a rise in online ordering, delivery, and other nontraditional service delivery methods.
Of course, these thousands of restaurants all tend to need the same sorts of tech — and they all want it at once.
Changes in consumer behavior does not always appear to have a direct IT project manager connection. But the whole supply chain is connected in ways that suggest otherwise. A significant increase in consumption of Nintendo Switches or Xboxes or GPUs might not seem like an immediate threat to your industry, but there are still only so many chips to go around. That uptick may indeed make sourcing routers or network switches more difficult.
What You Can Do
Besides the same strategies mentioned above, you will also need to sharpen your diplomacy skills. Perhaps not every QSR client has the same thing at the same time, and the same may be true in your area of focus.
Additionally, anything you do to increase your own efficiency as a service delivery partner will help alleviate these sorts of rushes and bottlenecks. Implementing a better field services management software solution helps you balance resources so that when your devices and equipment arrive, you will be ready to install them with maximum efficiency.
3. Overreliance on Globalized Supply Chains
Another component to technology supply chain disruptions is our heavy reliance on globalized supply chains. It is a common complaint that the United States does not make much anymore, and there are plenty of reasons for this. But COVID-19 certainly revealed the weak points of relying on global sourcing and manufacturing, with container ships sitting anchored near ports (or, worse, getting stuck in canals) and so on.
What You Can Do
Of course, solutions here are beyond what any of us can achieve on our own. Companies would be wise to evaluate the benefits and risks of nearshoring and onshoring critical manufacturing capability. But until that happens at scale, the strategies remain the same: order early and be prepared for price fluctuations.
Supply Chain Disruptions Are Not Going Away. Kinettix Helps You Weather the Storm.
Ultimately, there is little hope that supply chain disruptions will disappear entirely anytime soon. The best strategies include ordering early, remaining flexible and agile, and being as prepared as possible for whatever the next unforeseen disruption may be.
To weather the supply chain storm, you need an enablement partner with sufficient scale and depth, one with superior tools that improves your efficiency and expands your capacity.
Kinettix is that partner. We leverage the power of our global network of service delivery techs and world-class project management team to deliver results and enable stability.
Reach out today to see what Kinettix can do for you.