Daily Archives: October 6, 2006

New Technology Strategies for Supply Chain Management

The first keynote at the Symposium on Supply Chain Management yesterday was Beth Enslow‘s presentation on New Technology Strategies for Supply Chain Management. Over the last 6 months, Aberdeen has produced a slew of reports on Supply Chain that have identified a number of common findings that point the way to a best in class supply chain.

The five key findings were as follows:

  • Compete on Agility
    Traditionally, technology has not had the required agility, but in today’s environment where product cycles are shortening, new product introductions are increasing, and transportation networks are taxed, agility is key if you want to be best in class.
  • Beyond 4-walls Control
    Today, there is more reliance on external partners and processes are often driven externally.
  • Collaboration is Popular Again
    Collaboration can drive more value than reverse auctions. Significantly more value.
  • Reinvigorated Focus on Inventory Management
    Inventory is costly – you have to store it, and many products are perishable with new products always just around the corner.
  • New Technology: SOA & SaaS
    These technologies are more agile and integratable and should be at the foundation of any new initiative you undertake. After all, when 86% of companies require more than 6 months, and 40% more than 18 months, to adapt IT systems to changing business requirements and many on-demand SOA / SaaS solutions can be implemented in 3 to 6 months, this just makes sense.

Amazingly enough, these key findings line up reasonably well with the top four investment priorities for SCM, considering there seems to be a systemic blindness out there to the importance of proper SCM processes and technologies, a topic I’ll discuss further in a later post.

The top four SCM investment priorities identified by Aberdeen were:

  • Inventory Management (63%)
  • Demand Management (S&OP) (63%)
  • Supplier Collaboration / Global Transportation Management (40%)
  • Supply Chain Execution (40%)

In other words, if a company implements these technologies using Business Process Management and Workflow driven on-demand SOA applications with the ability to be configured on a company-by-company basis, they will be multiple steps closer to being able to execute as a best in class company.

Other interesting statistics included the attributes of the best-in-class inventory management companies (which have customer service satisfaction levels over 95% and reduced inventory carrying costs):

  • 45% use multi-echelon optimization systems
       vs 14% for all others
  • 57% have existing supply chain visibility systems
       vs 22% for all others
  • 52% have a forecasting system supporting customer-level forecasting
       vs 23% for all others

… and the on-demand vs. traditional statistics …

Metric better same worse
ROI 64 32 3
Upgrade Ease 66 19 16
Implementation Time 57 34 9
Customer Service Level 46 47 7

… and fact that for certain managed services, up to 50% of companies are somewhat interested and up to 30% of companies are highly interested … which is promising considering that best-in-class PSPs (Procurement Service Providers) can often outperform your in-house staff on categories outside of your core strengths.

Beth concluded with five recommendations that I strongly suggest you keep in mind when selecting new supply chain technologies:

  • Choose SOA-based solution offerings to ease implementation and improve usability and agility.
  • Consider on-demand and managed services.
  • Demand quick implementation and payback. You should be fully implemented within 6 months and see a return within 1 year.
  • Exploit the value of improved supply chain management information internally.
  • Agility! Agility! Agility!