June 05, 2017
Restructuring your supply chain: Which one is right for you?
By: Mark Johnson

Manufacturers rely on their supply chains to deliver competitive advantage. Effective supply chain management reconciles demand with capacity and supply. Despite the promise of supply chain management, it often does not deliver significant gains for manufacturers. To successfully deliver on this promise, manufacturers need to be cognizant of the different types of structures that can be used to design their supply chains and the different practices and approaches that each of these structures entails.

To drive benefit from the supply chain, manufacturers need to break down their own internal silos so that demand information is visible to the supply chain functions. This allows the manufacturer to become, internally, as efficient and effective as possible. The next stage is to externally integrate with the supply chain in order to achieve greater levels of efficiency and effectiveness, which increases responsiveness and minimizes waste and inventory, giving greater levels of liquidity to manufacturers and suppliers. However, integration is not just about information systems. It requires changes to execution processes, organizational structures, human resource practices, and relationships and collaboration with suppliers.

Once external integration has been achieved, manufacturers can choose to implement other structures on their supply chains. Demand networks can be created to allow even greater flow of information between companies in the supply chain to create a hyperresponsive supply network. Goal-directed clusters can be used where there is geographically clustered capability, and devolved collaborative clusters can be used to provide high levels of innovation. These all require different ways of working.

Which one of these structures is right for you and your company? The Accenture Academy courses External Integration of the Supply Chain, Supply Chains as Demand Networks, Supply Chains as Goal-Directed Clusters, and Supply Chains as Devolved Collaborative Clusters detail the different options that are open to manufacturers, their benefits, and the necessary changes to the processes within the supply chain for you to future-proof your supply chains.

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