Supply Chain managers have a simple job in principle - making sure that products are delivered promptly and cost effectively. Achieving this, however, is slightly more complicated. Last year saw wars, natural disasters, and unpredictable weather patterns have a tremendous impact on supply chains, rendering the best laid plans irrelevant and forcing managers to fall back on contingencies of varying quality.
Things do not look like they are going to get any easier in 2016, but there are various strategies and tools being developed that should help mitigate risks and ensure that chains run as smoothly as possible. Here are 3 resolutions supply chain managers should make this year to become true best-in-class organizations.
A survey of executives at companies participating in McKinsey & Co.’s Digital Manufacturing and Design Innovation Institute found that 80% of CEOs consider digital manufacturing and design to be a critical driver of competitiveness, but just 13% rate their organizations’ digital capability as ‘high.’
In order to remain competitive, this has to change. If you’re depending on old-school supply chain technology and cumbersome legacy systems to keep afloat in a data-driven world, you’re immediately at a disadvantage. Every business is now a digital business, and the best supply chains are those leveraging business networks to create a digital community of partners.
For a supply chain to be considered truly digital, however, is more than just a case of having a laptop and an internet connection. It requires a whole strategy that is geared towards digital practices and embracing all new channels as and when they arise. It should enable the sharing of information between all partners and involved parties, and embrace all new technology that could improve better processes, such as IoT.
Focus On Agility
Thanks to predictive analytics tools, trying to predict the future has never been easier. However, there is still no way that you can possibly anticipate every event that could have an impact on your chain. Those that cope best with shocks are those who emphasize agility in their strategies. To do this, you need an environment in which all relevant information is easily accessed by everyone who needs it at anytime, from anywhere. Cloud technology and integrated platforms has enabled this. Communication also helps this, as well as aiding the sharing of knowledge that can help create leaner, more responsive processes. The accumulation and sharing of knowledge really needs to be standardized for this to really be successful, and everyone should know the process for doing it.
Ensure The Right Talent Is In Place
Finding skilled supply chain leaders who are equipped to drive innovation and harness technological advancement is the major challenge facing companies this year. Without the right staff in place, nothing else will happen. This must start with addressing the existing talent and creating a plan to retain the best. This means attracting young professionals, as we discuss here. Jon Chorley, Oracle chief sustainability officer and group vice president, supply chain product strategy and PLM, also notes the importance of technology to recruiting the best talent, arguing that: ’Expectations of new employees are shaped by social networks and consumer applications, so they can experience a profound culture shock when faced with a typical legacy enterprise application. The result is dissatisfaction and inefficiency. The opportunity to gain productivity through a modern, analytics-driven user experience is enormous.’