Education is another key to helping personnel — at all levels of an organization — understand CPFR processes, the implications of change, potential benefits of CPFR and the importance of supporting such initiatives. Ideally, in the spirit of collaboration, educational workshops will include participants from both trading partners to help foster a shared sense of commitment to ongoing improvement and to provide a broad sense of the big-picture implications beyond the scope of each individual partner's operations.
Making a positive impression on the human resources involved on both sides of a CPFR alliance is a vital step in laying a solid foundation for success, but it requires focused attention as well as an educational investment: to set goals and objectives, to resolve conflicts, to establish a shared sense of fundamental supply chain concepts, and to provide training on day-to-day processes and tools — the nuts and bolts required to operate the system.
When it comes to new system rollouts or new operational ventures like CPFR, education and training are typically overlooked, underestimated or under-funded, but it is a critical component to ensuring the success of such endeavors.
There are many case studies detailing the effectiveness of CPFR relationships and many examples of positive financial and intangible benefits to be gained by both trading partners. On the surface, such benefits may seem tempting, but it's also important to fully weigh the costs, implications and requirements of engaging in CPFR relationships.
Many overly ambitious projects have had to be abandoned or scaled back — to co-managed inventory alliances or joint forecast projects — because one or both trading partners did not fully understand the obligations. Even when two partners seem ideally suited and share similar cultural values, unforeseen circumstances like organizational and market changes can disrupt CPFR relationships. Choosing your partners wisely and carefully evaluating the compatibility of people, process and technology are all keys to success.
About the Author: With nearly 20 years of experience working the supply chain domain as both an industry practitioner and a consultant, including leadership roles on number of CPFR and VMI initiatives for Fortune 500 corporations, Jerry Andrews is a senior manager with Plan4Demand Solutions, a consulting services firm specializing in global supply chain planning. As a technology-neutral client advocate, Plan4Demand also provides customized supply chain training and education to increase business leaders' knowledge retention and drive long-term self-sufficiency among their end users. More information at www.plan4demand.com.