Cover Story: 7 Habits of Highly Efficient Supply & Demand Chains

To go the distance in business you need to take a disciplined approach. Here are some key best practices for making your supply chain hum.


Sidebar: 7 Deadly Sins of Supply & Demand Chain Enablement

In conjunction with the feature article "7 Habits of Highly Successful Supply & Demand Chains," we also took an informal survey of the supply chain community to uncover the most common mistakes enterprises commit in the implementation of supply chain technologies. We offer a selection of the submissions below.

1. Failing to manage and sustain the adoption of the new technology. "Establishing clear benefits and changing the team's measurable business objectives (MBOs) to reflect those benefits must be integral to deploying new technology," says Singh Mecker, founder and CEO of Valdero.

2. Enabling bad processes. Technology projects can serve as catalysts for broad-based operational improvements and lasting change, but only if the necessary process and organizational enhancements are synchronized with the deployment of new systems, says Jim Fry, North America supply chain leader at Unisys. Traci Hanes, supply chain system analyst with the Information Technology Shared Services Group at Boeing, notes that, too often, "enabling technology such as [enterprise resource planning (ERP)] is assumed to take the place of good processes." Finally, Jon W. Hansen, president and CEO of e-Procure Solutions Corp., writes: "Creating solutions that incorporate actual front line procurement expertise is becoming increasingly important. Without this knowledge, the majority of initiatives will ultimately fall into the one step forward, two step back implementation routine."

3. Setting unrealistic goals. Haste makes waste, says Mark Rowe, a strategic accounts executive with ShipLogix, who laments that too many companies cut their deployment time too short. The result is that a six-month deployment may get done in three months, but the company then spends two or three times that fixing the mistakes committed along the way.

4. Trying to enable everything at once. The biggest mistake companies make in applying technology to solve their supply chain challenges is trying to solve all their problems in one fell swoop, says John Martin, senior vice president for strategy and technology at IQNavigator. Triage your various challenges to identify priorities, Martin says, and then design a program with a tailored approach to fit the needs of the stakeholders involved and any process or compliance requirements, and identify the technology partner that can deliver the best overall results.

5. Failing to involve supply chain partners in the implementation process. When companies decide to implement new software to integrate their supply chain, many times not getting their vendors or suppliers involved early in this initiative can spell disaster, advises Steve Galke, director of industry solutions with Catalyst International. "Gaining a consensus early reduces the risk of mediocre participation, increases the integrity of shared data and reduces vendor/supplier fears of losing control over their competitive advantage," Galke says.

6. Believing in the infallibility of systems. Despite forecasting and planning technology, the unexpected still occurs, cautions Steve DeFrancesco, vice president of operations with Timogen Systems. And Pamela Lopker, chairman and president of QAD, warns against making promises based on information coming out of systems that may or may not be accurate.

7. Failing to enable the supply chain. Supply and demand chain management must embrace the new capabilities available in current technologies, believes Steven D. Duket, solutions manager with MAPICS. Thomas Sanderson, president and chief operating officer of Transplace, warns that companies too often have preconceived notions of the value of undertaking a particular type of supply chain initiative.

The editorial staff thanks all those who contributed their thoughts on the "7 Deadly Sins."

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