What is the destination of our “supply chain journey?”

The term journey carries many connotations. In one sense it defines an epic trip. Something that one might look forward to as a once in a lifetime adventure. For others, a journey might be seen as a difficult and arduous trip – think the Mayflower crossing the Atlantic. These connotations are not that different when it comes to supply chain. In particular with regards to such adoption as S&OP. There seems to be more S&OP journeys than any other. But are we looking at this with the wrong lens?

mayflower-sailing-picturesThe other aspect that is implied with a journey is that we have a clear destination – a final goal. For those of use that see journeys as wonderful adventure – the destination maybe a tropical island for holiday or hiking in the Andes. For the passengers on the Mayflower that journey was a new home far from the oppression of England. A journey filled with disease, boredom, fear and for some death.  But when it comes to technology adoption, for say S&OP, is there a true end goal? Or a constantly evolving and changing number of levels and stages we are looking to reach. With many of the systems we put in place for our supply chain, we are looking to add efficiencies in how we handle inventory, make our production more profitable, meet customer demand faster and better and the lists go on. However these are not goals, but more continuously evolving aspirations and stages. We might want to attain a 98% customer satisfaction, but once we achieve it, we cannot stop there and gloat in our achievements. The business environment is constantly shifting, so we need to maintain our nimbleness. Supply chains look to rid themselves of excess inventory, but once they have reach a specific number…the work does not stop.

Now the fact that there cannot be a true “end goal” with this journey, it does not mean service providers do not need to be held to a high level of expectations and demands from their clients. From the user stand point they must have a frank discussion with their service providers about what is realistic for different results at stepped stages.

Both service providers and their customers need to change their perspective when they mention a “journey.” Easier said than done, but don’t think about reaching an end goal but really about the key steps in that journey.



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Filed under Supply Chain, Technology

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