@ Supply Chain Management


Supply Chain Assessment isn’t child’s play. You need a true specialist.

So advises Jane Lee, a director of supply chain solutions at SupplyChain Consultants in the June edition of GLCS. She begins her article by saying what may seem as obvious but in a fad fed world, it may not be first on your agenda.

The first step to improving your supply chain is very basic: you have to understand what is working and what is not./blockquote>
And that’s the segue for introducing supply chain assessment as one of the key competencies that a supply chain consulting firm should possess. Therefore, how does a firm evaluate which supply chain consulting firm to employ to fo the assessment?

Many consulting firms will claim an expertise in almost anything. A firm that does consulting on finance management, corporate strategy, shareholder value and oh-by-the-way supply chain effectiveness is frequently a “jack of all trades, master of none”.

The number of qualifications in the above statement ought to give one pause. Why doesn’t she just say what needs to be said – that a jack of all traders is a master of none.

Firms which focus entirely on analyzing and improving supply chains have a large institutional knowledge base of what has and has not worked in scores of other companies, enabling you business to leverage other companies’ mistakes.

Couldn’t have put it better myself though I might have added a qualifier here where it is necessary – was another consulting company involved in that failure or not? Then again, maybe not – another commandment to savor – Thou shall not put a gun to your own foot.
Jane’s distilled recommendations on supply chain qualifications:
1. Choose practise over theory when it comes to knowledge
2. Choose consultants with domain/industry specific knowledge
3. Choose a listener over spouter
4. Choose consultants with an ear for red flags
All of the above are great tips for choosing a supply chain consultant. I would add the following:
5. Choose someone who can adapt their recommendations to you existing systems/be prepared to change a lot of things
6. Choose someone who can base his recommendations on hard quantitative analysis (like a decision support system) rather than soft fluffy feel good terminologies. Of course, I wouldn’t consider LEAN or Best Practices as soft fluffy feel good terminology – that goes without saying.
The latter half of the article deals with how a typical supply chain assessment looks like:

1. The level of coordination between different operations from forecasting to manufacturing to order fulfillment as well as effectiveness of the current supply chain planning operations
2. A comparison of the operations with best-in-class operations to determine areas of improvement
3. An assessment of the IT system being used to support the supply chain, to identify specific gaps and improvement potential
4. Business process changes and organizational needs to support a best-in-class supply chain operation

Jane warns about the following which I think is important to know:

Studies show that implementations of even the best information systems tools, without accompanying business process changes have not produced the expected results.

Jane expands on what a firm should expect from a supply chain assessment:

1. A map of the current state of the supply chain
2. A map of the desired future state of the supply chain
3. A list of “low-hanging fruit” improvements that can be made at little/no cost
4. A detailed, prioritized, step-by-step path forward to move from current state to intermediate states to future states and the associated organization, business process and tool changes in order to make the progress
5. A database of the firm’s historical supply chain for internal analysis and improvement
6. (Three points collaspsed into one) Customer analysis and segmentation using lead times, pareto analysis and customer service criteria
7. Identifying trends within the firm’s supply chain operations and execution

Category: Reviews, Supply Chain Management, Supply Chain News


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June 2006