Supply chain mapping tools

In this section you will learn:

  • About which supply chain mapping tools exist
  • The purpose and benefits of supply chain mapping
  • How the Zambian healthcare supply chain was mapped
  • The activities required to implement a supply chain mapping workshop

What is a supply chain mapping exercise?

A supply chain is a system of organisations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in supplying a product or service to a consumer. A supply chain mapping exercise provides a visual perspective of the flows and key supply chain stakeholders. A country health supply chain map examines the end-to-end flow of commodities, relationships of the key stakeholders within the chain, and the functional requirements from source to the end patient. Supply chain mapping identifies the current status and identifies opportunities for optimisation through outsourcing.

The purpose of supply chain mapping is to:

  • Define the ‘As-Is’ status of the healthcare supply chain (medicine distribution flows, stakeholders, public-private participation, demands, risks)
  • Identify functional gaps and opportunities to optimise and improve supply chain performance
  • Gain visibility to understand the critical levers and/or interventions required by the ministry of health to improve efficiency and effectiveness of the supply chain

Supply chain mapping is beneficial because it:

  • Informs strategic decision making with respect to in-sourcing, outsourcing, capabilities, processes, practices, systems and policies
  • Enables governments to identify non-core functions where outsourcing partners could potentially play a role
  • Provides a baseline analysis in the development of a future road-map (‘to-be’) for the health supply chain
  • Supports the building of internal government advocacy through an objective review of supply chain operations

Health supply chain mapping example


An implementation and workshop guide for building a supply chain map

Once you have decided that you need to do a supply chain mapping exercise. The next step is to run a workshop and build a supply chain map. A rough guide for a supply chain mapping workshop is outlined here:

Activity 1:

Developing the public health supply chain map

Aim: Groups work to develop draft health care supply chain maps

Group work (about 1 hour)

Divide participants into groups of 4-6 persons, each group must:

  • Identify public health supply chain levels and entities within
  • Identify which entity or entities are responsible for the key functional areas
  • Draw the flow of products and information between entities. Note how products are transported, who transports products, how and when information is shared (including types of logistics reports and systems)
  • Indicate if health facilities order commodities from intermediate or central warehouses using a demand-based “pull” system, or suppliers simply “push” products to health facilities
  • Identify monitoring and supervisory processes
  • Identify funding streams and budget cycles
  • List strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) within the current supply chain
  • Discuss current policies impacting the health supply chain

Activity 2:

Consolidating public health supply chain mapping outcomes

Aim: Group feedback, debate and consolidation of findings

Presentations and plenary discussions (20 to 30 minutes per group)

Assign a note-taker (different to training facilitator) and the facilitator reviews presentation guidelines with the Groups:

  • Group members present their supply chain maps and SWOT analysis.
  • The facilitator encourages questions, feedback, and comments from the room
  • Facilitate a plenary discussion and collaborative review and revision of the public health supply chain maps toward the desired outcome – a common public health supply chain map that is supported by all stakeholders
  • The facilitators ends the session by summarising key points and addressing outstanding issues to reach consensus amongst participants

The facilitator listens, take notes, collects the draft maps and related documents produced during the workshop and captures relevant data from supply chain mapping workshop.

Activity 3 (optional):

Deeper analysis of the public health supply chain map

Aim: To leverage knowledge of supply chain and public health experts to:

  • Clarify the distribution of roles and responsibilities within technical areas
  • Identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunity and threats in/of/for/to the country’s health supply chain

This exercise is best conducted by splitting participants into groups

The mapping workshop can incorporate activities that complement the field data collection exercise with the aim to maximise the benefit of bringing these supply chain stakeholders together. Possible activities include:

  • RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, and Informed) Analysis
  • SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats) Analysis