Would you travel to a foreign country without a map or without first learning about the local laws and culture? Foreign travel can be rewarding, but certain business conditions can present challenges if overlooked or ignored.
When taking your business global, you have to understand each target region’s culture, language, customs, laws and best practices to ensure your business processes and supply chain management remain intact and optimized. Perhaps most importantly, you should consider enlisting the help of a guide — a partner who is familiar with the intricacies of all elements of global business, specifically global supply chain management — to help you maintain continuity and efficiency.
First Steps on Your Supply Chain Journey
As you prepare for your global venture, it’s critical to understand the current cultural, political, social and economic “winds.” You’ll want to keep the following tactical considerations in mind:
- International business is fundamentally unique: Each country has complex processes, technology challenges and cultural distinctions that can result in significant operational disruption if not properly addressed.
- Expertise, processes and people are essential: A global partner can help your business extend beyond the bounds of domestic operational norms and embrace effective business processes unique to each country by leveraging a blend of human, technical and business expertise.
- Implementing a domestic strategy abroad is not enough: What works in one demographic may be ineffective elsewhere. Executing a narrowly focused domestic strategy abroad will lead to gaps and omissions within your global supply chain management strategy.
- Use mature, global vendors as your guide: They understand the nuances of working internationally, including the laws, regulations, customs and “gotchas” of doing global business in each region.
Finding the Right Guide
An essential part of your global strategy includes effective supply chain management. Ensuring the smooth flow of your products, services and data into any new region can be an exacting process. Proper attention to the needs of your supply chain early on in the expansion process will lead to greater success. A proven global supply chain management partner can alleviate the pains of globalizing your business, which enables it to flourish both domestically and internationally.
Businesses seek globalization partners for three primary reasons:
- They have reached a saturation point domestically and want to expand their presence to other areas of the globe.
- They are looking for ways to optimize their existing global presence to take advantage of unrealized efficiencies or to overcome challenges they did not anticipate.
- They need a globalization partner to augment their team abroad so they can simplify their process, free up monetary and human resources and focus attention on other business initiatives.
A globalization partner acts as a guide and an extension of your business — from strategy to implementation and beyond — to help you reach your unique goals.
However, to make the most of your partnership and to set yourself up for success, some prework is required in advance before you approach a globalization partner:
- Understand your goals for globalization: Clearly articulate why you want to expand globally or — if you’re already abroad — why you feel you need strategic assistance.
- Identify your roles: Assess your core management structure to identify gaps in roles and responsibilities.
- Define what constitutes success and how you’ll measure it: Evaluate all aspects of your existing business, from customer satisfaction to product quality and speed to market, and measure against that baseline data for full visibility.
Dig Deeper into the Tactics of Globalization
This article has touched upon a few core considerations for globalization and the importance of having a reputable global supply chain management partner, but there is much to consider before, during and after your business expands abroad.
About the Author
Doug Halbert is the Vice President of Global Services Delivery for Global Lifecycle Management, a specialized solution business within Tech Data. He is responsible for the development and profitable growth of customer solutions that include high-volume labeling and configuration services, complex converged and hyperconverged integrated solutions and industry-leading supply chain management services ranging from 3PL to fulfillment solutions.