Flow and Control
Flow and control are the management techniques that are applied to a supply chain ecosystem to manage the volume and effectiveness of transactions and collaboration. These include:
* Order management — The set of practices and processes that govern the transactions and collaboration related to "order to cash" processes. Practices vary widely and have varying degree of efficiency. In some ecosystems they include all facets of the business, from planning through payment. In others, they are simply processes used to manage purchases.
* Visibility — The set of practices and processes that provide insight and clarity into the progress of transactions and collaboration related to order management.
* Event management — The set of practices and processes that provide proactive and reactive management of pre-planned or exception-based actions that occur during the execution of order management activities.
* Community management — The set of practices and processes that drive the efficient identification, communication, relationship structure, and performance of community members within the ecosystem.
Extension and Innovation
Extension and innovation involve the management and execution approaches related to collaboration enhancements and initiatives within the ecosystem to support optimization. These include:
* Standards and open forums — The purpose of standards bodies and open forums are to foster collaboration and innovation that become standard practices and capabilities within the ecosystem. The choices of the standards, the decisions to participate or not participate, the investments made to provide the concepts that come from these groups all drive the acceptance and wide adoption of new practices and methods to drive efficiency and optimization through commonality. At the point of greatest maturity, the practice is ubiquitous within the ecosystem and is part of the social fabric of the environment. An example of this would be the electronic data interchange (EDI) standards that are used around the world.
* Industry mandates — The purpose of industry mandates is to "kick start" a specific practice or innovation. Industry leaders drive industry mandates and the purpose is typically to create leading-edge differentiation for themselves based on needs in the market. Mandates work because of the dependency of the members, real or imagined, on the member that is mandating the change. Twenty years ago, mandates were common and, in an environment of point-to-point relationships, had high levels of acceptance. Today, mandates are still as common but the tone has changed. Most industry mandates (data synchronization, RFID, use of UCCNet or RosetatNet) actively show and explain to the members of the ecosystem the expected results.
* Practice sharing — There is more collaboration among industries today than ever before fostering an environment, to a degree, of co-opetition. While no member of an ecosystem will divulge trade secrets or sensitive information (like price), there is recognition that electronic techniques and technology advancement have created a slimmer veil between the members of the ecosystem and therefore certain practices and improvements that are shared by all increase the overall efficiency of the ecosystem. Companies view their ability to absorb a practice to gain even a temporary advantage as a reasonable outcome and that if the members of an ecosystem share with each, they will improve through gaining many small, short-term advantages.
Ecosystem management techniques span immediate to long-term timeframes. Because of the need and complexity of multi-enterprise ecosystem environment, there is little advantage to a given initiative or transaction best practice over time. Therefore, members tend to gravitate to a leading edge, "main pack," or laggard membership level in the ecosystem. The leading edge companies seek to constantly innovate and extend. The "main pack" of members works to adopt new innovations at a pace that keeps the leading edge happy but with the most cost-effective model possible. The laggards are late adopters or will not adopt the change at all and will seek ways to only comply at a minimum level.