I’ve been noticing an uptick in Supply Chain 2020 discussion and blogging lately, despite the fact that 2020 is only 7 years away. Why do I say only? While 2020 may be 28 years away in ‘Net Time, given the pace at which the average Supply Management Organization moves, that’s breakneck speed! (It shouldn’t be, but it is. That’s why, despite the fact that it’s 2013 and e-Invoicing is old enough to drink, approximately 90% of invoices are still paper-based.) Furthermore, most prognosticators want to make predictions that are far enough away that either their prediction will almost guaranteed to be a reality by that time or everyone will have forgotten completely about their prediction by then. (Given the rate of increase in ADD/ADHD in recent years, that might be long enough for all of us to have forgotten everything from today, but I’d like to think that some of us may still have a long-term focus, and a longer-term memory, in 2020.)
A lot of these discussions are focussing on what the Supply Chain is going to look like in 2020, what technologies are going to drive it, and how the Supply Chain is going to run. These discussions are interesting, because we all want to know what tomorrow is going to look like today, but it’s not 2020 — it’s 2013. And whatever vision you have of 2020 is not going to become a reality without a plan to get there. That plan will, of course, depend on your vision and your end goal, but regardless of the plan you choose, there are three elements that will be required to get there.
What are these three elements? The Three Ts of Strategic Supply Management, of course!
No innovation, or renovation, will succeed without these 3T’s, and an alignment thereof.
Despite the need for transportation, Supply Chains don’t run on trucks and trains — they run on Talent. Talented people identify potential suppliers. Talented people run strategic sourcing events. Talented people negotiate and execute contracts. Talented people collaborate with supplier personnel to ensure quality, on-time delivery, and quick issue resolution. Talented people deliver to Sales and Marketing what the consumers want.
And what do these talented people use to accomplish their tasks? Technology. Real-time communication with suppliers around the globe requires modern technology. Value-generating strategic sourcing events require good strategic sourcing technology. Contract generation, management, and supplier performance management requires good collaboration technology. And the list of technological needs goes on.
However, the technology that is required, for most organizations, is not the technology that the organization currently has. In order to acquire and implement this technology, the organization will have to transition appropriately. This will involve mapping current processes, mapping desired processes, identifying technologies that can appropriately support the desired processes, and putting together a transition plan, that takes into account the needs (but not necessarily the wants) of all of the stakeholders and that is supported by the appropriate executive(s) in the C-Suite, that will get the organization there.
So if you want to get to 2020 in style, first get to 2014 in-style and focus on the 3Ts. This is one best-practice that is year-independent.