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  • Writer's pictureMicha Veen

Start with Supply Chain Diagnostics before embarking on your Supply Chains Innovation journey!

Most supply chain leaders which intend to embark on a Supply Chain Innovation journey often start with one of the following actions;

  • Desk research of the latest trends in Supply Chain Solutions, mostly technical solutions

  • Attend various conferences, seminars, etc. to assess the latest technology trends in the Supply Chain environment

  • Engage in small work-groups (cross-functional) to determine "internal" supply chain technology and business challenges between the various departments, business units, etc.

  • Engage in (vertical) cross-organisational technology-driven work-groups to determine industry-wide challenges and opportunities within their supply chain models

  • Other type of engagements....

At Unique Excellence, we're still surprised how often we talk to supply chain executives, who have partnered solely with a technology provider to kick-off their supply chain innovation journey. Instead of a business-technology hybrid expert. Through solely engaging with solely a technology provider, we see how many organisations miss reaching their strategic objectives to increase the supply chain effectiveness.

Unfortunately, in the last 5 years, we have often found that these decisions are often made by individuals (mostly C-level) who have been "sold" a pure technology solution to deliver supply chain innovation. These C-level executives have often created views, expectations and ambitions, without truly understanding current bottlenecks, challenges, gaps, etc of their own organisation.

Often, there is a clear ambition, desire and even strategy, but a the current business is either;

  • Miles away from these ambitions, e.g. numerous supply chain foundations are not in place or completely overlooked,

  • Current technologies are not-fit-for-purpose or unable to "easily" integrate with leading technologies,

  • Current business practices are complex and convoluted without adding any substantial value to the expected commercial or business outcomes

  • The organisation doesn't have the right skill sets, or is skill set-poor, which translates in no execution "power" to deliver the relevant supply chain ambitions

So, how can organisations deliver successful Supply Chain Innovations?

It all starts to understand your current state through a Diagnostic Assessment. Different organisations are using different names for this kick-off stage, some call it an "As-Is Analysis", others call it a "Requirements Gathering". However, what is important is the focus areas of this stage. Many consultants kick-off with intensive workshops to create process maps, conduct system reviews, etc., but over the years, we have found that the effectiveness of this approach doesn't deliver true innovation. This is because this approach often creates "limited thinking" as there is too much focus on the current solutions and limitations. It also doesn't provide a clear insight in the existing gaps. This is why we have introduced a far more effective method, which includes:

  • Creation of a cross-functional, cross-organisational work-group (consisting of operational and technical resources) and define the Priority Requirements List to capture the expected business outcomes/ acceptance criteria (based on DSDM Agile Methodology). This approach focuses on the future outcomes, instead of the current limitations.

  • Metrics! - This is core to our approach and requires deep understanding of data visualisation skills. This approach is split into 3 main areas; 1) determine what metrics are core to achieving the relevant business and strategic goals, 2) determine your preferred targets and stretch targets (and preferably align your bonus structure to these), 3) and most important, capture current metrics (your starting point). Unless you know where your starting from, you'll never know if the targets are achievable. This also is the time to adjust your targets and stretch targets.

From this point onward, there are many different methodologies and approaches to select the correct innovative solution (business or technical) approach. However, it's important to ensure that supply chain innovation is solely finding the fastest route from the current state to the expected end-goals. Often this means that a large number of processes and systems are no longer relevant or required to meet these goals. The focus should be on changing behaviours, ways-of-working and operating models, before heavily investing in the latest technologies.

It's therefore important that there are no ego's and people are willing to let go of their current practices and behaviours. Only when organisations are able to "let go", they are able to embark on a true supply chain innovation journey.

Only through behavioural changes, "letting go" and end-to-end supply chain collaboration model (supported by technologies), will Supply Chain Innovation really flourish!

Are you able to LET GO? please contact us to effectively guide you and your organisation on your supply chain innovation journey...

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