Five Best Ways to Evaluate Supply Chain Planning Best Practices
Now is Definitely the Time to Start Game-Planning Your 2020 Initiatives
By Frank Polito, Director SCMO2
In an evolving economy with businesses always looking to be more competitive, success comes to those who strategically gather intelligence across industry trends and best practices. Intelligence not in the secret spy sense of the term, but rather the straightforward act of defining, gathering, analyzing, and distributing intelligence about products, customers, competitors, and any other aspect needed to support the decision making of executives and managers.
As you begin developing your 2020 supply chain management and planning improvement project roadmaps, make sure you have collected enough intelligence to properly analyze your company’s most difficult business challenges and determine those areas where you could be more competitive.
These are my five best ways to establish new supply chain planning best practices in 2020.
1. Launch an Internal Strategy
Focus on the most important aspects of your supply chain as they relate to your competitiveness. Use the outcomes to establish several key improvements you would like to achieve. But don’t get caught in the ‘best practice’ quicksand … stay disciplined and stick with those changes that will offer significant immediate value to your organization.
2. Attend Best Practice Conferences and Tradeshows
Depending on the size of your company, your technology landscape and your industry, attending conferences and tradeshows can be extremely helpful towards understanding how other companies are executing best practices in their supply chain organizations. Some of the greatest value we get from conference attendance is learning from others and sharing our insights and guidance. Hearing different perspectives is invaluable to developing the best path forward.
3. Create an Internal Center of Excellence (COE)
A COE is typically a team, shared facility or entity that provides leadership, best practices, research, support and training for a specific focus area. For your company, it may simply refer to an informal group of people or department. Whatever works best, creating a COE provides a central repository of the institutional knowledge you are gathering or creating. It creates a resource in the company to define processes, establishing precedent and serve to oversee new process improvement initiatives.
5. Evaluate Best-of-Breed Supply Chain Planning Software Applications
From mobile apps to desktop software to cloud platforms, there are more supply chain software solutions than ever before. But that doesn’t mean they all work well (if at all) and more importantly, doesn’t mean they will work for your specific needs. Constrain your evaluations to those industry-leading platforms as they will be most reliable. Prior to making a selection, complete a validation review or issue an RFI to define the requirements.
5. Hire Unbiased Advisors to Facilitate Action
Conducting internal assessments and reviews can often fall victim to the “too many cooks in the kitchen” phenomenon—everyone has an opinion, and your strategic changes can sometimes become watered down (or very cumbersome). Make the time and investment necessary to coordinate with an outside firm to help you assess, roadmap and implement any new best-practice processes. In the end, ideas on paper have no value if they cannot be effectively implemented and adopted in real life.
Continuous improvement does not happen in a silo. When others succeed, we should consider understanding their approach or adapting their ideas. Good ideas tend to be shared and imitated (the sincerest form of flattery) or are generated through collaborative efforts. Make the commitment today to pay attention to your tomorrow. In 2020, set a goal of defining new supply chain best practices that work for you, and then establish a means to measure your success. Gathering the necessary intelligence is a first priority along that path.