I know I’m taking the risk of sounding like a broken record (or for those of you too young to remember such a contraption, the effect produced can be mimicked by putting a mini audio clip on infinite loop), but the fact that articles continue to surface on the topic, and the fact that there appears to be a need for these article, leads one to believe that the message still needs to be spread. To this end, here is the fourth installment. (Need to catch up? Here are the links to C4 I, C4 II, and C4 III.)
So how can one foster collaboration? A recent issue of Computer Business tells us that IT Makes Collaboration Easy. This is important because a collaborative approach changes how people relate to each other and people to tend to resist change. Therefore, a collaborative culture cannot be forced on staff, and must be delivered in a way that allows them to become converts after experiencing the benefits for themselves.
The article points out that IT-based tools, if implemented effectively, allow collaboration to be built into everyday business processes, and carried out with the minimum of effort. These collaboration tools must deliver simple user experiences no matter how complex the implementation and underlying processes are.
The importance of collaboration, and of technology that supports that collaboration, is echoed in Looking Ahead: Faster, Brighter Technology by John Kerr, Contributing Editor of Supply Chain Management Review. In the article, he notes that Collaboration is Now the Rule and that new technology developments, such as SOA, will continue to accelerate collaboration among supply chain participants. These tools will help extend collaboration further out to functions that have only recently become part of supply chain management thinking, such as new product development and supply chain finance.
Finally, we find yet another perspective on the importance of technology in a recent European Leaders Network article that illustrates How I.T. shows the way upward. The article points out that communication is the key and technology is the key to global communications, essential in today’s global marketplace.
However, we can use more than technology to improve collaboration. A recent issue of Supply & Demand Chain Executive brings us an article by Nilesh Anand that gives us one direction for collaborative performance enhancement. In Collaborative Performance Enhancement = Successful Supply Chain Management, we are reminded that a supply chain is only as strong as its weakest link and told that the key to collaborative performance enhancement is collaborative benchmarking.
According to the article, a collaborative benchmarking effort starts by choosing effective performance indicators. Efforts are then made to measure them effectively. These indicators are identified by researching best practices and peer organizations that are doing above average. Make sure to cover delivery performance, flexibility and responsiveness, logistics cost, and asset management.
Collaborative benchmarking is important because it requires understanding between all participating members who are more likely to collectively take the whole supply chain into account, and not just one or two segments.
Once you have measurements, focus on identifying and implementing the appropriate best practices to improve them. Set goals for improvements and strive for continuous improvement – collaborating each step of the way.
So in conclusion, you can start to foster collaboration by way of the application of the right technology, the right measurement process, and in the identification and implementation of new and improved best practices and methodologies where everyone works together. Of course there’s more that you can do, but this is a great start!