Over the past couple of years, many American consumers have encountered difficulty finding everyday products on store shelves. International supply chain shortages have impacted everything from toilet paper to baby formula. Meanwhile, contractors and remodeling companies have experienced a long lag time in obtaining the necessary raw materials; automotive manufacturers have been stymied by the lack of access to microchips and other important components.
Supply chain issues aren’t just affecting the end consumer, either. Manufacturing companies are really feeling the strain. The question is, what’s causing these supply chain disruptions? What has been the specific impact on manufacturers? And what solutions are available to manufacturing companies trying their best to deliver products on-time and on-budget?
What’s Causing the Supply Chain Issues?
There are a number of factors to consider when assessing the root cause of the supply chain disruption. Some of the notable culprits include:
- Continued fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Inclement weather in important supply countries.
- Delays caused by violence and tension throughout the world, notably Ukraine.
More than anything else, the supply chain issues may be blamed on oligopolies. Simply put, there are many verticals or niches where only four or five competitors exist, and where one or two brands are truly dominant. When one of those dominant brands encounters any kind of hindrance or obstacle, it can really have a big impact on what consumers find on store shelves.
Experts say that, to help alleviate these issues, consumers should shop around, be open-minded about substitute brands, and try to cut back whenever possible.
How Long Will the Supply Chain Issues Last?
Consumers surely hope for the supply chain issues to be short-lived. According to many major executives, however, supply chain disruptions and product shortages can be anticipated at least through the end of the year.
As a case in point: Tim Stuart, who serves as the CFO for Xbox, has warned consumers that supply chain issues will continue affecting the video game industry for the remainder of 2022. On an investor call, Stuart went as far as to say that this year’s holiday shopping season could prove “rocky.”
Stuart attributed Xbox’s issues to recent lockdowns in China, which have slowed the progress of a few key components. In truth, the gaming industry’s supply chain issues have been kicking around for several years. Stuart’s comments follow news that Sony has reduced its production forecast for the PlayStation 5 considerably. And last year, Nintendo exhibited a small dip in sales. Both issues have been chalked up to a shortage of semiconductors, a supply chain issue that’s roiled the tech and automotive sectors.
If anything, some tech executives are less optimistic than Stuart; Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger predicts that problems will persist through 2024.
How are Manufacturers Coping?
One way in which manufacturers are responding is to rethink their product roadmaps.
The product plans that manufacturers made years ago are no longer viable for “just-in-time” management systems, where goods were able to flow more freely through the supply chain.
As such, today’s product manufacturers have made the tough choice to scale back their manufacturing plans, and ultimately to rethink their companies’ entire manufacturing strategies. In some cases, this has prompted companies to revert to building and selling older products, at least until the inefficiencies to the supply chain are worked out.
While these pivots to the product roadmap may be necessary, that doesn’t make them easier for manufacturers to stomach. Building a 10-year product roadmap is capital-intensive, but failing to deliver on that roadmap is costlier still.
The silver lining is that many manufacturing companies have seized this opportunity to retool their production methods, not only by scouting out supply chain inefficiencies but also by seeking ways to develop a more nimble, adaptive approach to product roadmap management. Naturally, this has led many companies to seek a more sophisticated product roadmap management software solution.
How Product Roadmaps Can Help
As manufacturers seek better options to help navigate supply chain issues, and keep their product strategies agile and efficient, many of them are turning to product roadmapping softwares. One of the companies that specializes in the manufacturing industry is Gocious that builds a product roadmap management software that goes beyond traditional product roadmap management, aligning product strategy with business objectives and customer needs. Simply put, the platform provides the tools that manufacturers need to stay on top of an increasingly unpredictable environment.