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A Logistics Plan vs a Logistics Strategy…

What’s the difference? Why do you need both? How do you make both a success?

So, what is the difference?

They’re two different things. A plan is not a strategy, and a strategy is not a plan.

A plan is how to get from point A to point B.

  • It contains the detail of the who, what, where, when and how much. It’s focused on the shorter term where the detail is revised/re-planned fast to keep things on track.

A strategy is knowing that point B might be a necessary point to reach on your way to where you want to go - point C.

  • It explains how you will bring everything at your disposal together. How you will leverage your strengths. How you will cope with your weaknesses as you make your way from point A to point C.

And how does this relate to Logistics/Supply Chain?
You need a Logistics Pan to determine what you need to have where, how much of it, and when. 

You need to define your Logistics Strategy so that it supports the goals of the business. If the goal is to be the lowest cost producer, then it will look different to what's needed if the goal of speed to market.

Do I need both?

Short answer: Yes.

You can have a plan without a strategy…

  • You’ll look in control but be directionless.

…but a strategy can’t deliver without a plan (…it’s like being all dressed up with nowhere to go).

  • You’ll have a direction, but won’t know… 
    • what you’ll need, 
    • where you’ll need it, or
    • what to do first. 
    • …and your biggest problem will be not knowing how to react when something goes wrong. And something always goes wrong. Your strategy will be the guard rails that keep your planning aligned with the goals of the business.

How do they work together to deliver success?

Like anything, the key to strategy and plans working together is simplicity.

Too many consultants delivering too many pages of too much jargon is not going to work. You’ll finish with a logistics strategy that is too complex to read, understand and implement. Apart from a volume of folders, all you’ll have to show for it is a large consultancy bill.

The logistics strategy is the source of all logistics plans. A clear logistics strategy delivers clear logistics plans. Plans need to link with the strategy.

How do you link logistics plans with the logistics strategy?

Linkage is via consideration of four elements of any logistics operation.

  1. Competition: What are they doing right/wrong that impacts your organisation? And what do you need to do (your plan) to counter/capitalise to move in the right direction (your strategy)?
  2. Transport: Do you have the right options in place (your plans) to meet your desired service levels (your strategy)?
  3. Outsourcing: What is better done by someone else (your plan) so you can concentrate on driving value (your strategy)?

    …and the key element…
  4. Logistics Systems: Do you have the right level of accurate, real-time data to make the right decisions (drive your plan). Is it keeping you on the right path (your strategy)?
    • Systems giving your people the visibility needed to execute your operational 
    • Systems driving your logistics plans that align with your logistics strategy?
    • Systems ensuring your logistics plans align with your logistics strategy?

Successful Logistics Outcomes
= (logistics plans = logistics strategy) + solid logistics systems.
It’s as simple as that.

How well aligned are your logistics plans to your logistics strategy?

How solid are your logistics systems?

Do you have the best logistics systems to drive successful logistics outcomes?


Take A Look At The Results Of A Successful WMS Implementation.

See how Tarsus Distribution, in collaboration with SCJ boost overall efficiency by 60%