3 Ways to Beat IT Supply Chain Challenges and Keep IT Projects on Track
Remember when just-in-time manufacturing worked as it should? The U.S. used its expertise to design products and produce some components domestically. Production, in the form of inexpensive labor, was outsourced to other countries and global distributors shipped finished goods back to the U.S. for sale.
Then came a global pandemic. While consumer spending initially dropped, it quickly rebounded as consumers stocked up on household necessities and non-perishables and businesses amassed masks, sanitizers, and cleaning products. This spike in demand corresponded to spending, with spending on real goods up 15% over pre-pandemic levels.
But this spike in demand didn’t cause the supply chain disruption. It was simply the straw that broke the camel’s back. In an industry that has traditionally operated on legacy mainframes and paper documents, the lack of automation and AI—now prevalent in most other industries—helped create the bottlenecks that continue to slow the flow of goods along trade lanes, ports, railroads, warehouses, and highways today.
The White House’s Council of Economic Advisors echoed this, describing it as “supply chains that are efficient but brittle—vulnerable to breaking down in the face of a pandemic, a war or a natural disaster.”
While some companies are modernizing operations to improve supply chain resiliency, these changes will not happen overnight. As we look ahead to the IT projects on our dockets, we’ll need to understand where the obstacles are so we can find ways to work around them.
Supply chain disruptions on technology projects
IT projects have traditionally been relatively straightforward to plan and execute, but technology supply chains were one of the industries hardest hit by COVID-19. The disruption has been so dire that even basic business needs, such as laptops, take months to acquire—making it difficult to onboard new employees.
For example, pre-pandemic, typical lead times for data center hardware were 4-6 weeks. Today, according to Gartner, 200-300 days is not uncommon; some customer quotes even state 430+ days.
Why? The biggest culprit is the semiconductor shortage—chips that power everything from cars to computers—as well as a shortage of the raw materials needed to create technology products.
To ramp up onshore production, Intel, Taiwan Semiconductor Manufacturing Company (TSMC), and Samsung are all opening fabrication plants in the U.S. in the next couple of years. However, the earliest any of these plants will open is in 2023—and that’s if they can overcome the expected shortage of qualified workers.
In fact, Intel CEO Pat Gelsinger recently predicted that semiconductor supply issues would likely persist into 2024—a revision down from his earlier prediction that chip production would be brought in line with demand by 2023.
So what can you do?
How to manage through IT supply chain disruption
First, if you don’t already have one, now’s the time to build an IT strategy roadmap. A detailed roadmap provides visibility into future projects and helps you plan for, budget, and procure hardware as you need it. For example, if you plan to purchase a new server next year but it won’t be available within typical lead times, you can identify a Plan B.
Then, once you have a roadmap, make it a best practice to regularly review it to see what’s ahead—and help keep your projects on schedule, even if the supply chain isn’t. For example, if you need a specific piece of hardware to support a critical business process, your audit will tell you when to consider other options.
Lastly, partner with a managed IT services provider like Logicalis, who can help you creatively navigate supply chain issues and recommend alternatives.
Logicalis: Giving you options to supply chain challenges
Turning to a managed IT services provider with global reach, like Logicalis, is a good best practice. As Architects of Change™, Logicalis helps our customers respond to change by investing significant resources to expedite the delivery of orders and ensure they can complete their projects.
Yes, we’ve heard the stories. But we won’t oversell you. You can expect that we’ll be upfront about lead times and delays, so you’ll have realistic expectations about your project. Logicalis can help you:
- Build an IT strategy roadmap. Through our IT consulting services, we’ll work closely with you to develop a strategic IT roadmap that aligns with business objectives and helps you plan for, budget, and procure hardware in advance. We’ll also conduct regular reviews and audits to assess the supply chain and ensure you’re completing planned IT projects as scheduled.
- Find the best options for you. No two suppliers are the same—they all have different portfolios, supply chains, and strategies for dealing with the chip shortage. Working with a managed IT services provider that has strong relationships with key suppliers—like Cisco, HPE, IBM, and others—gives you many more options.
Logicalis has longstanding partnerships with our suppliers and knows what hardware they have available or how they’re dealing with supply chain issues. We can seek out alternatives for you, such as substituting with an available product, finding a comparable product from a different supplier, or even exploring refurbished equipment programs that may help fill your requirements. We also maintain the highest levels of partnership, enabling us to provide deeper discounts to you as a result.
- Optimize existing assets. Lastly, our IT consulting services team can assess your infrastructure and find ways to optimize it as a short-term alternative to procuring new hardware. For example, most data center and campus switches are overprovisioned and, according to Gartner, at least 25% of campus and data center switchports are unused. They suggest that:
“…reducing excess capacity via consolidating connectivity can readily free up 10% to 15% of switches for most enterprises, while still leaving ample room for growth. This requires network changes/recabling, operational labor and downtime, but is a straightforward option to free up switching capacity.”
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you solve your supply chain issues and keep your IT projects on track.
Jeff Earll is Area Vice President for Logicalis US, responsible for directing the sales and delivery of complex Unified Communications/Collaboration, Data Center Services, and Managed Services solutions.