Is your supply chain truly collaborative?

Published: 9 March 2015

Supply chain has come a long way in recent years; many more people now know what they actually do and many organisations have implemented first class MRP and ERP systems. However, are divisions within companies truly working together as a team, to ensure they can handle an increasingly demanding customer base ‘moving the goal posts’? Customers across all sectors are demanding better, faster and cheaper products.

If your marketing team facilitates a celebrity endorsement for a specific product, is your supply chain set up to manage this? Does the warehouse have the capacity? Or is the cost of hiring more staff to pick and pack the product too high? Your customer services team has promised one day delivery, have the planners forecast enough stock or have the buyers negotiated a shorter lead time with the supplier?

There are, of course, pockets of excellence in this area, particularly within the automotive sector, and larger blue chip organisations based in Europe that have successfully implemented true sales and operational planning. However, there is certainly room for improvement in other sectors, and therefore should companies be looking to supply chain professionals within the automotive sector to transform their supply chains?

There are often high performing divisions and individuals within an organisation in the demand planning, distribution and sourcing departments, however without the right person to instigate the collaborative process and get the most out of the systems that join the team together, are organisations exposed to risk?

On a positive note I have spoken with a number of companies across all sectors including retail, consumer and medical that have realised they need to look at sales and operational planning as an integrated business management process. Organisations are also ensuring their supply chain strategy is fully aligned to that of the overall business strategy, which is great for supply chain professionals and a very exciting time for the function. The spotlight is firmly on the supply chain; the supply chain and logistics professionals are increasingly becoming the face of the brand, with the delivery being the only point of contact between the retailer and the customer.

We need to say goodbye to separate logistics, sourcing and customer services and hello to collaborative working if companies are to gain a competitive edge.

Leanne Wilson is a Consultant in the Procurement and Supply Chain Practice for Berwick Partners, recruiting senior leadership positions across both the Private and Public sectors.

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