Anne Kohler, Founding Partner, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer, The Mpower Group
As supply chain organizations are trying to do more with less, we are helping our clients to identify areas where they can add more “value” for their organizations. The challenge for our clients is that many supply chain organizations have measured their value by creating efficiency and cutting costs. But to continue to be relevant, “value” needs to be defined by their customers—and frankly, most of their customers have value drivers that have gone beyond cost savings. A key challenge that supply chain organizations need to focus on is the ability to get any of their innovation—new process, tool or technology—adopted within the organization. Supply chain groups spend millions of dollars a year investing in innovation only to find that a fraction of the intended value is realized. I have seen numerous client organizations that invest in supply chain technology and each one has realized different value. The reason is that a great deal of attention is paid to deploying the technology and not enough attention is paid to ensuring that the technology is adopted within the organization to realize the intended value/business benefits. Without adoption, there is no return on investment. Adoption of new processes, tools or technology needs to have more focus and can be a way to provide more value to the organization. I believe it is up to those women that are currently playing leadership roles in the supply chain profession to encourage, coach and mentor other women to attain leadership positions. I personally do this by mentoring my female clients and helping to recruit capable young women on behalf of clients.
Sharon Nelson, Managing Director, Plan4Demand Solutions Inc.
Establishing Supply Chain-centric Center of Excellence is a practice organizations are adopting to drive continuous improvement in 2013 and beyond. This drives value in companies through the supply chain by capturing internal knowledge and enhancing core capabilities long term. The devil is often in the details and we’ve found that the value is often in the data, tribal knowledge, and experience of the people. People make or break the supply chain. Establishing a Master Data Management Strategy is another way we are helping companies drive value. While Master Data Management is not a “sexy” project, it is a critical one. You should expect to not only clean up current data for reliable reporting but also have an on-going strategy to keep data in good condition. It must be an on-going initiative to support the company growth and agility to respond to market demand long term. The challenges presented by the demanding global competitive environment juxtaposed against the limitations of skills commonly resident in the supply chain organization is an issue that needs extra awareness. The Demand Planning function is a prime example where tools available to enable the process are often more advanced than the skills of the practitioners. Supply chain skills applied to everyday events will improve operational effectiveness and is the most consistent area for improvement I have observed across multiple businesses and industries. Another industry issue that is getting extra awareness is Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP). Much of the time, companies are still “fire drilling” because they are not truly sharing info and insight across organizational silos. They are driven by comp plans that compete or pit them against each other, at times, in driving improving customer service levels and manage costs.