Supply Chain Matters thought it would be great idea to conduct interviews reflecting on the different current perspectives of supply chain control tower concepts. This Part Two posting is a continuation from Part One.
Our goal is to include technology and service providers, as well as functional experts closest to this area. To kick off this series, we conducted an interchange with Infosys senior consultants regarding current trends in this area. Participants and prime contributors in the responses were:
Gopi Krishnan GR, Practice Manager – Business Application and Services, Retail CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences, Infosys
Arun Kumar, Principal Consultant – Business Application and Services, Retail CPG, Logistics and Life Sciences, Infosys
We continue in this posting with Gopi and Arun responses to two other questions.
Question 3: Typically, how are supply chain control tower capability needs being expressed:
a. The need for more timely decision making capabilities or supply chain business intelligence vs. broader visibility
b. An extension of supply chain planning capabilities regarding the overall picture of demand or supply or products?
c. An extension of supply execution capabilities regarding purchase orders, replenishment and exception occurrences?
d. Combinations of the three above?
It is a combination of all 3. In fact, the nearest abstraction would be a flavor of near real-time Business Intelligence (BI) solution. A SCCT is a function of accurate forecasting, rapid execution, and actionable insight that leads to superior decision making. Depending on the level in which you want to expand the SCCT scope, the issues being addressed can be (a)the planning to execution gap (b) the intra-execution gap (between various execution functions) or (c) inter-enterprise gap (in terms of functional flows or handshakes across organizations or entities).
Question 4: What general advice does Infosys share regarding the best approach for undertaking a supply chain control tower initiative.
The primary challenge for organizations today is to lower costs, improve service levels, enhance visibility and effectively synchronize the demand-supply equation. The SCCT is an effective tool to address these challenges. It must however be noted that we continue to advocate a ‘crawl-walk-run’ approach instead of trying too many things at the same time.
How do we start off on the SCCT journey? A lot of parallels can be drawn to the classic six sigma improvement techniques (DMAIC comes to mind) adapted to the SCM context. The three key pillars for this initiative would be Visibility, Control and Responsiveness.
Visibility can be attained via streamlining the business processes to address current inefficiencies followed by defining and right-sizing of metrics. Instead of trying to measure, monitor and track everything across the supply chain, the organization could define limited operational KPIs and cross-functional metrics to begin with and expand as they go along.
At the Control level, the organization is setting up the right metrics and measure/monitor/track key parameters across the supply chain based on critical KPIs that can be expanded as they go along (to include more cross-functional metrics). At this stage, we are still referring to upper or lower control levels for each parameters and the ability to stay predictable.
Responsiveness is where the customers see the difference in terms of enhanced customer experience. These could be events which are routine (like a truck delay) or much broader in scope – even at the level of supply chain risk management as a response to unforeseen and potentially catastrophic events. Thus responsiveness goes beyond actionable insights and can include outcomes from what-if predictive modeling to drive better decision making.
For each of these steps, organizations can stay within their span of control or expand beyond traditional boundaries to look at the extended supply chain.
The technology approach for the SCCT logically requires the same four steps to be enabled. The additional – but an overarching requirement – is the design of a scalable and flexible integration platform to extract the necessary information from underlying systems (within an enterprise) and message files (from external partners). This would require harmonization both at a process level and at a master data level.
This concludes part two of this Infosys dialogue on SCCT readiness. If readers have specific thoughts and/or needs in this area, or if your organization wants to contribute to this education series, please send us an email: info <at> supply-chain-matters <dot> com.
Disclosure: Infosys is one of three other named sponsors of the Supply Chain Matters blog.