Leveraging existing supply chain actors
LESSON LEARNED: Leveraging existing supply chain actors is important for optimizing customer experience.
In the Pilot Project (2008-11), the invention of the chamber box removed the need for a household to hire a mason, since the mason’s specialized skills were no longer needed to construct a chamber box of brick and mortar. This was thought to benefit the end-user by allowing them to install the underground and slab portion of the latrine themselves for less cost, and that masons would ultimately benefit through increased demand for brick shelters. However, it was found that many households still prefer to hire the mason for the installation of the whole latrine since installation of the underground and slab is often done at the same time as installation of a brick shelter, which does still require a mason.
Moreover, bypassing the masons in the supply chain also led to some misconceptions about the chamber box quality. As the masons were unfamiliar with the new product innovation, either they would install it incorrectly, or tell the households to return it in exchange for the traditional bricks. That is, because the masons were still involved in the user experience, it was important to engage them so that even if they are not installing the product, they still serve as advocates. The case study of the masons shows that it may not necessarily be in the customer’s best interest to bypass seemingly “unnecessary” supply chain actors. A closer analysis of their value added might reveal an opportunity to engage and leverage their presence.