‘Best in Class’ Supply chain from a Road warrior perspective – Part 4

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Insight #4 – Embracing Supply Chain Technology as a way to change SCM I have been following the United Nations Climate Change Conference. If you were to ask anyone what he or she thought about climate change, you would probably hear:

  1. Excitement
  2. Skepticism
  3. Concern or Fear

I came to the realization that you would get the same reaction from a supply chain executive when discussing supply chain technology. When I refer to supply chain technology, I am talking about software to support the fundamental supply chain business processes -- Demand, Supply, Inventory Planning, and Sales and Operations Planning. Excitement

  • We have electric cars, new transportation systems, wind turbines, solar panels. There is much excitement about technology favorably impacting the climate.
  • Like climate change, when you hear about new supply chain and manufacturing technologies, and the advancements being made, you want to be part of the sea change. Advanced analytics, cloud solutions, cross functional collaboration, big data, in-memory computing, 3D printing. These are all advancements in supply chain that are changing the way you do business. You will be more competitive, more profitable with more market share if you embrace these advancements.


  • Despite the progress and the opportunities, aren’t we all skeptical of the world’s ability to actually improve the climate?
  • Momentum can be constrained in supply chain too.
  • There have been two many false promises. On the road, we would hear about the millions of dollars spent on software that didn’t work. We would hear about the years and years of project work that didn’t end.
  • Your CFO never really wants to invest in software but with the right ROI it is the right decision. Unfortunately too many companies have been oversold and still have their perpetual license sitting on the shelf.

Concern or Fear

  • And possibly the biggest reaction to the topic of climate change is fear, but could it also be the biggest motivator? How many of you are concerned about the planet? The more I read and hear, the more I want to do something. I think it is finally time to get rid of the gas-guzzling car. Concern and awareness will cause me to act.
  • The concern or fear can either paralyze your company or catapult you to act too.
  • Typically you will act. You may be losing market share, your profits are drying up, and your costs are rising. You inventory is in the wrong place at the wrong time. You have become so inefficient because your company is growing and managing multiple versions of enterprise software. You don’t have an end-to-end business process layer to manage your business.
  • Your competitors are using software successfully that you don’t have.
Observations and Recommendations
  1. When you embark on a supply chain software evaluation be ready to execute.
    • It is discouraging to see so many companies gather large teams of people together to evaluate software and then not make a decision. This is discouraging for the software company but even more discouraging for your own people.

Let’s assume that your company has dealt with the skepticism, and is now motivated to act and initiate an exciting new project. What are the recommendations for successful adoption?

  1. Launch a communication plan
    • Communicate the benefits to the individuals and the company.
    • Communicate the goals.
    • Ask for input, improvement opportunities.
    • Share tips and tricks.
    • Communicate the tangible improvements on a regular basis.
  2. You are not alone
    • Organize support groups.
    • Connect with others in your industry that may be using the same technology. You will be influenced by the positive actions of others.
  3. Consider an incentive plan
    • Reward people on their performance related to the effectiveness of the software. (Drawing inspiration from our climate change analogy. consider Atlanta, Georgia, which had a surge in the sale of electric cars due to a price rebate offered to the buyers. The electric car owners are also allowed to drive in the commuter lanes on the highway. The reward does not have to be monetary but tangible.)
  4. Assign accountability
    • Select an executive sponsor.
    • Assign subject matter experts accountable for specific processes.
  5. Build continuous momentum
    • This is not a project that has an end. Your software should be agile enough to support multiple business processes and adapt to your processes as they change.
  6. Measure your progress
    • Measurements can be user login time, use of analysis, metrics improvement (inventory, service, manufacturing releases).
  7. Lead by example
    • As a user, manager or executive, use the software. Throw out your spreadsheets. Set an example. (Bristol, England leads by example in climate change. The mayor only rides a bike and buses are powered by food and human waste.)

Looking for more great insights from a Supply Chain Road Warrior’s perspective? Check out the rest of my series:

Part 1 – Company CulturePart 2 – Supply Chain Processes Part 3 – Supply Chain Measurements

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