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  • Writer's pictureMicha Veen

Supply Chain Innovation, where do you start?

When employees are looking to deliver supply chain excellence or innovation, their first step is to identify the technology that should be introduced. But is this really the best place to start?

Most technology-centric innovations fail, when as the focus is on the technology to solve the issue, while the technology is often only part of the potential solution. Delivering supply chain innovation means solving real holistic problems, real challenges and real bottlenecks through not simply automation, or bringing in the bext "shiny technology solution", but changing behaviours, unnecessary process steps or redundant effort.

So where do you, as a supply chain executives, start?

  1. Solve real issues. If you're not able to clearly define your problem or bottlenecks, then no innovation will be achieved. So start by solving real pain points, issues or bottlenecks that add commercial or operational value to your supply chain, if this is not achieved, then start again!

  2. Innovation should never be solely technology focused. Most supply chain innovations that have made sustainable impact in the Supply Chain Organisations were not initiated through technology only. Some examples are: removing unnecessary cross-docking, introducing vendor managed inventory, introducing straight-through-processing in your warehouse, etc.

  3. Supply Chain Innovation is a different approach to solution design, it doesn't change the "why" or "what", it simply changes the "how". The "why" should be still be clear. (Additional insight in the "why" - link )

  4. Any Supply Chain Innovation initiative should be developed with the customer in mind (see article customer-centric supply chains)

  5. Supply chain innovation or excellence is a journey, not an end-station (see article Supply Chain Excellence) It's therefore important to understand that by introducing iterative solution design and implementation, you introce the recognition to continuously improve.

  6. Always start with issue identification and measurements, reporting or KPI's adound these issues, before you start any innovation journey. Only through measuring your innovation impact or progress, you're able to engage all levels in your business.

  7. Big bang supply chain innovation is rare. Although it always seems like that certain businesses have made a sudden supply chain impact (e.g. Amazon), most people forget the journey these organisations have gone through before they were seen as having Supply Chain Innovation.

  8. Look outside your own organisation or bring in supply chain experst to support you in your journey.

So, start small, start iterative, start solving real supply chain challenges. And key is to look outside your organisation, industry or even country....

Unique Excellence, led by Micha Veen, has Operational Innovation and Supply Chain Experst, who have worked with some of the leading organisations to introduce iterative, innovative solutions that make a direct operational or financial impact!

Please contact us , when you're looking to make real impact!

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