Daily Archives: December 16, 2008

On the Fourth Day of X-Mas … (Collaborate)

On the fourth day of X-Mas
my blogger gave to me
four little words,
tri-focal lens,
two boxing gloves
and a lesson in strategy.

One of my favorite presentations from the last few years is Coca Cola‘s presentation on “Winning Together” from eyefortransport‘s Supply Chain Directions Summit back in 2006.

The presentation, which described Coca Cola’s big push to improve its supply chain through collaboration and information sharing, noted that success depends on:

  • relationships,
  • communications,
  • commitments, and
  • visibility.

These little words have a meaning that’s just as big today as it was two years ago. They’re still the blueprint of success between you and your supply chain partners. Although important, the keys to sourcing success are never canned processes or over attention to metrics, but working as an extended team with your supply chain partners and focussing on the customer. This means communicating to them early when a shipment is in danger of being late, working with them to find alternate sources of supply if the primary source dries up, and suggesting material and design changes that will reduce costs and improve quality. Strong relationships are the key to success and sustainability — take the time to get it right.

Furthermore, it’s important to remember that, when you get right down to it, very little information is truly confidential, and the best way to resolve issues and collaboratively improve supply chain performance is often to put everything on the table. It’s important to share all relevant information with your partners, and give them whatever they ask for if it will help them help you. Remember, there’s a big difference between sharing information with a trusted partner and blasting it all over your corporate web-site. You can always enter into two-way protection agreements if need be, but you can’t collaborate if you don’t share.