I have been fortunate enough to have had worked for some incredible visionaries and leaders during my career. One such person is Sanjiv Sidhu, one of the founders of i2 Technologies. I learned a tremendous amount from my time spent at i2 and much was gained from the passion, intelligence and vision exhibited by Sanjiv. One simple, yet powerful, mantra Sanjiv preached was the notion of “Plan – Do – Check – Act.”
Granted this was not original to Sanjiv but rather a process by which companies can seek to find continual improvements to business processes. The beauty, as in many things, is in the simplicity of this saying for supply chains. The need to be able to plan well – how will I determine my end goal, allocated resources, make investments and distribute my assets. Then being able to do – execute towards the end goal, in a expeditious and profitable manner. Once the execution begins the need to constantly monitor how the process is trending – establishes milestones or alerts to indicate whether or not I will be able to achieve the goals I set. And finally to be capable to act – if and when events impact my ability to achieve my goals, can I take the appropriate actions to re-sequence my supply chain and get back on track. The simple process of PDCA allows enterprises and their supply chains to have a constant feedback loop on where they stand with regards to completing the goals they established.
When it comes to supply chain management we have spent much treasure and effort in giving solutions for planning and doing – just take a look at the landscape of solution providers that allow you to plan and then execute. The ability to do the check and act has not been as evident within supply chain management. I realize vendors and service providers have tried to bring true visibility to end to end supply chain processes – with minimal success.
Today with flexible applications, the cloud, greater mobility and other advances with our systems and architecture we are closer to being able to finally round out PDCA. As we start to have true extended supply chain visibility coupled with complex event processing – tied to business process management – supply chains can truly check their process, understand the impact of events and act or re-sequence to ensure their end goals are met.
We are getting closer to true closed loop supply chain management.