I recently had the opportunity to catch-up with a former AMR Research colleague, Roddy Martin.  Roddy is well known in supply chain circles and needs no introduction as an extraordinary thought leader. He recently joined consulting firm Competitive Capabilities International (CCI) as their senior vice president of global supply chain consulting.

CCI is a global operations and manufacturing management consultancy with a 20-year reputation of collaborating with companies to help them become and remain world class. The firm features a stellar group of clients and caters primarily to process manufacturing based firms, many of which are noted global brands.

I always look forward to conversing with Roddy about the challenges and developments related to supply chain transformation, and our conversation was, as always, invigorating.

CCI provides a continuous improvement framework which is termed TRACC, which is not software, but rather a well defined framework of codified best practices addressing the various stages of maturity of a firm’s overall supply chain and manufacturing capabilities.  What I like about the TRACC methodology is that it recognizes that sustainable transformation requires engagement at multiple areas of change, and each stage of maturity is evaluated in the context of management operating practices, enabling systems, and process based tools. The framework is also complementary to the Supply Chain Operations Framework (SCOR) methodology. The TRACC methodology was designed to help firms self-manage their own supply chain transformation utilizing a well defined framework of evaluation, management themes and maturity benchmarks.

Beyond any singular transformation methodology, Roddy and I discussed the challenges that many firms have in building and sustaining the supply chain capabilities required in this new post-recessionary era of different norms of business variability, velocity and rates of change. Too often, supply chain teams have tended to be driven by project-based vs. broader process based initiatives for change.  Roddy and I discussed several examples.  For instance, many companies embraced individual project-based lean or continuous improvement initiatives, perhaps without an overall context of an end goal for cross-functional and cross-business supply chain capability needs.   Similarly, the past severe economic recession drove many organizational teams to be driven solely by supply chain cost saving objectives, sometimes at the expense of overall needs for enhanced agility, consistency in quality, or overcoming the increased complexity involved with supporting global based supply fulfillment needs.  In our overall Supply Chain Matters Predictions for 2011, we noted that these singular cost-reduction initiatives may have taken a heavy toll, one that is manifesting itself in increased incidents of quality process breakdowns and increased supply chain disruption. While the past severe recession had various economic and cost control impacts for business, it should not have served as the singular goal in supply chain process and transformational activities.

Beyond individual initiatives lies the umbrella need for an Integrative Improvement Framework that addresses the end-to-end, extended supply chain, involving internal and external based teams.   This is not software, or another management buzz term, but rather a comprehensive framework addressing the maturity of various process capabilities throughout the supply chain. The reality is that many firms need to once and for all move beyond the functional silos of individual project or functional driven goal performance, toward a more comprehensive framework of joint and complimentary competencies.  The keys to an Integrative Improvement Framework are:

  • Top level leadership and commitment to organizational and process change management needs.
  • Engagement and participation of all levels of supply chain, both internal and external.
  • The notion that this is a journey, with multiple stages of maturity involved in the overall journey.

Supply Chain Matters will provide more ongoing commentary regarding this key topic in the weeks ahead, so stay tuned.  In the meantime, you are welcomed to share your own observations or experiences regarding this need for a broader Integrative Improvement Framework approach to supply chain transformation. Please utilize the Comments section blow this posting.

Bob Ferrari