The trouble is this kind of noise is fairly common. Sudden changes in the demand patterns or customer requirements within the frozen horizon of an organization can make it difficult for a companys internal processes to respond, thereby threatening the companys ability to deliver against other commitments.
The risks that impact the design of an integrated supply chain can be separated into six distinct areas. Lets look at those risks and then consider seven Golden Rules that can help any company achieve success.
Process Idiosyncrasies Unplanned rush orders are just one example of hiccups that cause supply chain idiosyncrasies. Your organization should be able to address exceptions concurrently and find a method for minimizing their impact on the supply chain.
Organizational Alignment Often neglected, the "org chart" should reflect changes in a businesss supply chain. You probably have a missing link if your org chart doesnt clearly indicate the point-person for supply management, demand management, sales and marketing, information systems, and product engineering.
Process Accountability If you are going to upgrade your supply chain processes, you need to update the mechanism to measure success. Otherwise, you will be committing the same mistakes with newer tools and processes.
Data & Informational Overload It goes without saying that if your organization cant manage and use information effectively to respond to the customer, somethings broken. Data should be closely integrated with the transactional systems, because this very information is key to managing the business tactically and strategically.
Strategic Intent This is defining and communicating the benefit or value to the customer. Too often during the design of integrated supply chain operations, companies neglect the key factor that influences the new environmentcustomer perceived value.
Companies like Cisco, Wal-Mart and Dell are classic examples of the integrated supply chain model because they keep the focus on strategic intent.
So, some noise in the supply chain is inevitable. But that doesnt mean sound IT management cant bring these risk factors under better control.
Let me provide a set of rules for successful supply chain integration. The rules serve two purposes. Strategically, they ensure resources and IT investments are tied to business objectives and marketing. Tactically, they help integrate people, processes and technology and cut down on the communication snafus common to such projects.
Neoris Seven Golden Rules of Supply Chain Management
Create your competitive edge: Supply chain management is about being more efficient than your competitors in meeting your customers needs. Define the right architecture to establish a mix of 70% off-the-shelf and 30% tailored components that can give you this competitive edge.
Your horizon needs to be at least two levels down the supply chain: Consider your suppliers suppliers; integrating only one level will not give you the visibility you need to succeed.
Integration is key: Developing a standard way for data integration to link all legacy systems is critical to successfully implement a supply chain management project. Systems need to be able to collaborate with each other. Today, most of them don't.
Establish a minimal set of KPIs (key performance indicators) first:They need to be aligned to your business drivers and customer needs. Your supply chain needs to be measured by those, and the information flow needs to support those KPIs.
Ensure a balanced supply chain: Automation and integration are great, but interpretation and decision making by human beings is still critical. Synchronizing demand and supply is more important than ever.
Your supply chain management platform needs to be flexible: Adding and removing partners and process components is an ongoing reality. This process must also be cost and time efficient.
SCM is also an internal change management issue: You need to break process silos within your organization and create collaborative communities.
The task of designing and deploying an integrated supply chain does not have to be a difficult undertaking. If planned correctly, the design should stem from creating real business value, focus on improved customer perception, and employ an incremental approach that makes it easier to adopt new processes.
Integrating the human elements and technology into the design will help smooth out most transitional stumbling blocks that organizations face. Create a process roadmap that addresses all these critical needs and provides a thoughtful and practical approach to supply chain integration.
Vishal Sharma is vice president of Supply Chain at Neoris, a global IT consultancy, systems integrator, custom application developer and leader in emergent technologies. Sharma has more than 15 years experience in IT consulting in the transportation, distribution, retail and consumer goods industries.