My Supply Chain Is a Hot Mess

My Supply Chain Is a Hot Mess

Welcome to “Ask Deb from QA,” a new column from MxD.

Every week, Deb from QA — with decades of experience on the factory floor — will answer your questions to demystify and explain the digital manufacturing industry.

Please submit your questions to

Dear Deb: My supply chain is a hot mess right now. What’s the first step I should take?

A hot mess of a supply chain could ruin your day. It’s happened to me more than once.

A hot mess of a supply chain could ruin your day. It’s happened to me more than once.

One bad player in the game and everything falls over like dominos, knocking down all in its path. If your supply chain isn’t working out, untangling it could take up more space than this column allows.

First off, this video has some very good, simple advice for avoiding getting into a mess in the first place. 

Next, look at your procurement strategy. 

A good procurement strategy is really about three things: The right cost at the right quality delivered at the right time. Is your supply chain the right size for your business? If you’re pulling in revenue in the billions and you have 1,000 suppliers in your chain, sure, that makes sense. But if you’re doing only $5 million in annual sales and you still have 1,000 suppliers, your supply chain is out of control. 

Part of examining your procurement strategy is looking at data. Look at your delivery history. Are the suppliers coming from the right part of the world? Does the quality meet your company’s needs? Does that quality match the price you’re paying (remember, the cheapest cost isn’t always best for your company). Getting to the root of your procurement strategy means taking time to generate data, analyze it, map out the problems, and fix them. 

In the day-to-day operation of our industry, it may feel like running in a hamster wheel. You might not have time to do this. But taking time to examine your procurement strategy, including the data behind it, is a small investment that can yield big dividends. 

After all, once you fix the mess you’re in now, the next hot mess is just around the corner. It’s inevitable.  

Assuring quality,

Check out last week’s Ask Deb here:
What will dominate tech in 2030?

Deb from QA wants to hear your questions. Send ‘em to and she’ll answer as soon she’s done with her shift.