The constant challenge for all supply chain leaders is how to drive a constant improvement in performance from their assets. However with tightening market conditions and the reality of global competition hitting home the task has never been harder than it has been in the last decade.
The response has been extensive and varied. Initiatives aimed at supply chain collaboration, organisational restructure and rationalisation, ERP consolidation, and implementation of advanced planning and analytical tools have all been undertaken under the banner of “supply chain transformation”.
Regardless of the objectives many of the techniques required to achieve a successful outcome are common. Here I have attempted to identify what I believe are the 6 most influential. This is by no means a one approach fits all business. Therefore there is no prescription for success, but by considering how your programme measures up you give yourself the best chance of smooth passage on your own supply chain journey.
1. Understand if what you are doing is truly transformational
Due to the variety of projects that are labelled as transformation there is frequently lack of clarity on the emphasis required on the three primary elements – Process, People and Technology. This clarity is critical before you develop the right adoption and change management strategy.
2. It’s OK to change track (as long as there is strong leadership)
In my time working with large pharmaceutical and FMCG organisations I have seen no less than three global organisations change direction when they are well into their transformation programme. In each case the result has been a stronger outcome for the business, clearer purpose and greater energy and support for the transformation.
However, to pull this trick off there must be super clear communication and strong leadership to be able to drive towards the long term vision through the period of readjustment. To prevent the programme becoming undermined this needs to be backed up by local leadership in each part of the organisation.
3. Make it real early
A common pitfall is to underestimate how long it takes individuals to grasp how they should work in the future, whether in terms of a change in role, ways of working, or the system they should use to perform day to day tasks. In order to address this challenge head on, it is essential that the change is made real for as wide a population as possible as early as possible.
4. The Implementation point is not the destination
Most supply chain transformational projects will involve a phased rollout due to scale and complexity. In your plans consider the optimisation and continued development beyond “go-live”. It can take several months for the desired ways of working to be fully embedded and for the benefits to start to appear. Both from a planning and a stakeholder expectation perspective, it is important to consider this period.
5. Pay extra attention to the information flows
Large transformation programmes are hungry in terms of resource and management attention, they therefore create pressure on the wider organisation.. A natural result of this is that each entity becomes inward focused for a time as they strive to deliver on their own priorities. In this situation there is a risk that the touch points, information flows both within the organisation and out to suppliers and customers do not receive adequate attention. It is important therefore, to have a methodology in place that ensures that not only are the detailed flows of information considered in the future ways of working, but any changes are well understood and that your supply chain partners are supportive.
6. Data quality is as important has it has always been, but is harder to achieve
Wherever there is an IT enabler involved in a supply chain programme there will be a data quality and accuracy question. In a transformational programme you will be asking your team to ensure data quality is maximised whilst the function of the data is changed. This creates a dilemma as, in many cases the time and effort required to achieve the required data accuracy requires work to start before the implications of the transformation have been made real (see rule 4).
This is quite a task and requires those responsible for data to have as full an understanding of the future operating model and processes as possible. It also requires a methodology that will allow your data design to develop as the future operating model and its’ implications for data become clear.
Download the full article to learn everything you need to consider when planning your SAP supply chain transformation in order to make the journey as smooth as possible.