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Can Supply Chain Leaders Take a Lesson from Sabermetrics?

A Winning Supply Chain Needs a Championship Team

baseball and logistics

It has been a long winter for most of us, but the first sign of spring is right around the corner. Baseball season is on the horizon. I can see it now. Sun shining, not a cloud in the sky, a light breeze blowing across the baseball field as I sit and enjoy America’s pastime.

The start of baseball season is an exciting time. The smell of freshly cut grass, the sound of the bat hitting the ball. The anticipation of a winning season by the hometown team. Some teams put all of their investment in one player—the star player, the MVP. Look at the top 10 home run hitters of all time and you’ll find that between the 208 total seasons they played and 6,565 home runs they hit, those star players only won a combined total of 13 World Series championships. That means 94% of the time, the top home run hitters weren’t on the best teams. After all, Hank Aaron only has one championship ring. So while they may be fun to watch, home run hitters don’t necessarily guarantee a winning season or that coveted World Series trophy.

As technology improves, so does the amount and quality of data that is readily available to us. Baseball statisticians no longer rely on simple stats such as ERA, RBI or home runs. One new stat at their disposal is wins above replacement (WAR). WAR takes into account several offensive and defensive stats to show a player’s total contribution to their team. WAR provides baseball management an efficient, innovative way to evaluate the winning ability of their entire team.

So how does baseball relate to the supply chain? It’s quite simple really. Making wise investments and thinking innovatively can help you establish and maintain a winning supply chain. For example, instead of looking at rate per mile as the leading decision maker, think about total landed cost as a key metric in your supply chain success.

Use your supply chain as a competitive advantage. You need to look at the entire supply chain—the whole team—rather than individual contributors or processes for the most long term wins. Your network of suppliers, plants, distributors, warehouses, third party logistics providers (3PLs), and retailers that participate in your supply chain are all key players on your team. Are there different strategies you can take to make the most out of your team? Would consolidation help make your shipping process faster, more efficient, and cost effective? Have you considered alternate modes of transportation such as intermodal conversion?

What players make up your championship supply chain team?