Daily Archives: January 30, 2012

How Do We Drive Technological Advances? Part I

Any organization that wants to excel in Supply Management today needs to master the three Ts:

  • Talent
  • Transition, and
  • Technology.

Yes, SI is using talent instead of people and transition instead of process because PPT has been failing us for years. (Which is not surprising considering that death by PowerPoinT is a leading cause of corporate suicide.) Supply Management is not a function where HR can fill a room full of warm bodies and get results. Some organizations still think so (as illustrated by the fact that a few organizations have approached consultancies looking to expand their global supply management organizations by 200 overnight), but it’s not the case. The people need to be talented and that talent needs to be managed. This is an issue that has been discussed a lot recently on SI and will be discussed more in the months to come.

In addition, Supply Management is not a function where Operations can just take some random processes from a best-in-class competitor and treat them as gospel. The reality is that every organization is different, and every process will need to be customized, or transitioned, to fit the Supply Management organization before any results will be obtained. Similarly, supply chains are fluid and organizations need to adapt to unexpected changes that will continually arise. As a result, the processes will have to be fluid and capable of being transitioned to accommodate new suppliers, distributors, distribution methods, and requirements. This is an issue that will be taken up more in months to come as SI renews its discussion of Your Next Level Supply Management Journey, which will be the topic of an SI white-paper that will be released in March.

However, the technology element hasn’t changed. The reason — the average organization still hasn’t adopted modern technology, including half of the must-have solutions SI identified in its recent white-paper on the Top 10 Technologies for Supply Management Savings Today (minimal registration is required). When the first pieces of feedback is that “we don’t have the top four technologies on this list”, that’s not a good sign. Especially since all of these technologies have been out there for at least ten years! It’s true that a few of them were not user friendly until about five years ago, but that still shows the burning need for modern technology in an average Supply Management organization. (Especially since SI has not addressed the Top 10 Supply Management Technologies an average Supply Management organization will need tomorrow — which is much closer than any organization will want to believe. The King may have proclaimed that tomorrow never comes back in 1971 when he sang the words of Ernest Tubb, but that was another time and another place.)

So what can we do? Certainly a focus on adoption, which includes usability, training, and incentive will help. But is that all? Needless to say this conundrum drew my attention to a recent article over on Chief Executive on Seven Strategies for Driving Technological Advances because any piece of advice that can help spur technology adoption is useful.

Chief Executive had the following pieces of advice:

  • Be a student of technology best practices.
  • Connect weekly with the CIO.
  • Encourage constant learning in the IT Department.
  • Communicate and share best practices through technology.
  • Think benefits, not features.
  • Prepare to invest.
  • Establish meaningful metrics for your CIO and yourself.

So how good is this advice for Supply Management? That will be the subject of SIs next post.