Today’s supply chains are more complex than ever before. Businesses are facing greater volatility, more uncertainty and unprecedented and unexpected risks. The time it takes to make critical decisions is lengthening, dramatically cutting into companies’ bottom lines. Why? In large part due to the negative impacts of poor collaboration.
So what’s causing this lack of communication across companies? The answer is threefold.
Data extraction and analysis is happening in siloes. Each department is taking a vertical approach to reporting, where the focus is on individual functional metrics, instead of the health of the entirety of the supply chain network.
Processes and functions have conflicting goals. Managers across the organization are responsible for one specific department, one set of priorities. Oftentimes they’re unaware of what other departments are doing. There’s an absence of communication between departments and business units.
Globally distributed teams. There’s nothing wrong with having teams spread out over vast geographies, but there needs to be effective and continual communication. Without it, decisions are made with little understanding of cross-functional impact, causing minor speed bumps to become road closures.
Essentially, there’s a fundamental disconnect between the data, the processes and the people overseeing the supply chain, which is impacting the ability to collaborate. It’s time to break down these communication siloes and work together harmoniously.
Welcome to the first blog post in our three-part series discussing three ways to improve supply chain collaboration.
Maybe I’m stating the obvious but… a lot has changed in the world of manufacturing since Keith Oliver of Booz, Allen and Hamilton Inc. coined the term “supply chain management” in early 1982.
Move over, 1982, it’s 2016.
It’s no surprise that today’s supply chains are more complex than those of three decades ago. They face ever-growing volatility, uncertainty and risk. Lack of visibility and collaboration in supply chain management is dramatically impacting the time it takes to make critical decisions. And, in the end, sometimes those decisions end up being wrong ones.
Making informed decisions fast comes down to collaboration – how effectively the data, processes and people who oversee the supply chain can connect, communicate and interact with one another. But, for many organizations, there’s a distinct disconnect between data, processes and people that is preventing collaboration.
What’s inhibiting collaboration and, more importantly, what can be done to fix what ails? You’ll find the answers in the new eBook, 3 Ways to Improve Supply Chain Collaboration. The book looks at how companies can foster ongoing supply chain collaboration by eliminating the disconnects between data, processes and people.
The following guest blog commentary is contributed by Bob Ferrari, Founder and Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters blog and Managing Director of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC.
In March of 2011, I had the opportunity to join fellow supply chain management bloggers Trevor Miles and Lora Cecere in a Kinaxis sponsored thought-leadership webcast focusing on the potential of the social supply chain. The concept of the social supply chain was relatively new, not well understood, and lacking many specific examples to cite. The closest context was one articulated by noted IT author Geoffrey Moore, who labeled the term “systems of engagement”. Back then, supply chain organizations were becoming aware of Facebook and Twitter, but not in the context of business. Many businesses were banning the use of social media on work premises.
Yet, we all believed that the potential leveraging of social media tools in demand, supply and risk management elements of supply chain business processes had enormous potential. I noted in a Supply Chain Expert Community posting at the time that: “social concepts do not equate to endless 120 character streams of unrelated or broadcasted information, but rather a context to a business process need.”
Indeed, four years later, after much market education and early adopter successes, leveraging social supply chain applications to enhance business processes has far more meaning and applied uses. The notion of social tools as mechanisms for matching people possessing respective skills, expertise, and knowledge with specific internal or external process and decision-making needs has more meaning and application. That is especially pertinent to today’s reality of increasingly complex and fast moving globally based supply chain networks.
It is about tapping the expertise and power of the extended supply chain network.
Today there is a focus on supply chain analytics and the automation of decision making. However, this does not preclude the need for humans and collaboration.
A quote from a Forbes article read ‘humans evolved to survive and collaborate to ensure survival’.
In my first blog I wrote about talent management. The millennial generation thrives on working in a social collaborative manner. In supply chain they need to share plans, assumptions and recommendations with others.
The good news is that working in the cloud makes collaboration that much easier. It is estimated that the market for cloud-based supply chains is growing at a compound annual rate of 19%.
Yesterday the emphasis was on vertical supply chains while today companies require horizontal supply chain excellence. Global companies require data and information to be shared and decisions made across the organization very quickly.
Those of us raised in the traditional supply chain era where functional expertise was the #1 priority may think of collaboration as a very nebulous term. Today it is a necessity for timely communication and decision making from the customer to manufacturer to supplier.
The emerging digital supply chain requires data and analytics AND social media functions.
As I was presenting at the European Supply Chain and Logistics Summit last week, the overriding memory I’ll take away was the number of people that were nodding and pointing at the screen when I talked about how unplanned supply chain events that occur need to be addressed immediately and that they cannot wait to be included as part of a new S&OP cycle.
Traditionally, an S&OP cycle is a process geared towards taking a medium/long-term forecast, balancing with aggregate level resources and generating questions/answers to establish preventative action. Usually it’s seen as a monthly process that follows this cycle:
Collate actual data and perform performance analysis
We’ve all asked ourselves the question… what-if? What if I bought that new car? What if I took that job? What if I won a million dollars? It’s fun to dream. But sometimes the what-ifs are slightly more mundane yet still important…. especially when you say “what-if” with your supply chain.
What if I could decrease the lead time on this part? What impact would this have on safety stock?
What if I accepted this large order? Could I build it by the due date? What other orders are impacted?
What if my key supplier suddenly couldn’t deliver for three months? What would that do to my revenue? What customers are affected?
What if I shifted production to a new supplier that had much lower costs but higher lead times? What would that do to my margins? My inventory levels?
The list goes on… we’ve only barely scratched the surface of the types of what-if analysis that supply chain professionals try to do every day. The challenge supply chain planners and analysts face every day is that the tools they are provided really don’t support what-if analysis. ERP systems don’t support multiple simulation scenarios, they have fixed, part-by-part reporting that doesn’t support further investigation, and it takes hours to run the batch processes needed to evaluate a significant change.
Since they can’t effectively perform what-if analysis in the ERP system, supply chain analysts often need to model these key decisions using Excel. And while Excel is an excellent tool for doing basic models, it simply cannot effectively capture the complexity of a real supply chain. Layer on top of this, the errors that inevitably end up in any Excel model, and you are often making key strategic and tactical decisions based on a flawed model.
Quick, tell me everything you know about supply chain! Okay, maybe not everything you know. I’m pretty sure that would take years with the experience some of you have. Maybe more like the CliffsNotes version. Why? Well, I’m new to the supply chain industry and need to get up to speed in a hurry. I’ve just joined the Kinaxis team as the social media and public relations manager, filling in for the next 14 months, and while I’ve got a great handle on the functions of my role, doing it in the supply chain context is something entirely new for me.
I have to admit that up until recently (pretty much the day before my first interview) I hadn’t really given much thought to supply chains. Sure, I had a basic idea of what they were. Oxford Dictionaries defines a supply chain as “the sequence of processes involved in the production and distribution of a commodity,” but as I’ve quickly come to realize, that short little sentence doesn’t begin to scratch the surface of the vast and oftentimes perplexing concepts that encompass supply chain management.
SupplyChainBrain attended our annual Kinexions user conference, and while there, they completed a number of video interviews with customers, analysts, and Kinaxis executives. And, we’d like to share them!
In the age of the Internet of Things, how can companies extract meaningful insights from the mass of data that is available to them today? We get answers from Yogesh Amraotkar of the Innovation and Solutions Group of Cognizant.