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July 12, 2016
Ten signs your supply chain isn’t as strong as you think
By: Henriette Lundgren

Everything looks slick at your company’s annual Supply Chain Excellence award celebration: You get recognized for last year’s waste-reduction program, but when you return to the office the next day, you don’t feel like displaying your engraved award. Why not? Because your company’s supply chain isn’t as strong as you once thought:

  1. You always have stock available—but on the wrong SKU

    You know that something is amiss with your inventory management when slow-moving inventory is filling your high-rack shelves and new products turn too fast with too little supply on the way. A lot of the top-selling SKUs are on product allocation, and sales colleagues fight over finished products for their in-store promotions. Don’t surrender, but review your inventory control processes and start by implementing some quick wins.

  2. You know a lot about the industry—how it used to be

    You have heard of warehouse implants with e-retailers, but your company has missed the opportunity, and now your competitor has moved in. You stick to the forecasting models you have used for years while you hear that others are implementing demand sensing and big data analytics projects to achieve lower forecast bias. At your plants, you hold onto spare part suppliers with long lead times rather than investing in 3D printing that would reduce your manufacturing downtime. You know you should instead start with a digital supply chain strategy, train your people accordingly and finally select the right digital applications to make your implementation a success.

  3. Your standard distribution cost is low—but that excludes expedited orders

    You have successfully concluded negotiations with your logistics provider to achieve lower per-pallet distribution cost, using full truckloads and transport load optimization. However, your finance manager reminds you that the cost of expedited orders regularly goes through the roof. What can you do when there seems to be firefighting at your warehouse every day? Accurate data and reporting can help you predict how many last-minute expedited orders there will be per month. Account for this in your budget total distribution cost, and find ways to optimize, satisfying both your customers and your finance manager.

  4. You employ great people—who are looking for jobs elsewhere

    You realize that your return rate of employee surveys is low and see colleagues checking the job pages during their breaks. You understand that employees are your foot soldiers in plan, source and make and deliver, and once they leave the company, a lot of knowledge and know-how leaves with them. Make sure you don’t lose your best employees. Instead, attract and retain awesome ones by keeping them engaged.

  5. You just improved your order-to-cash process—with mixed results

    Victory! After two long years of negotiation, all customers finally send their orders via electronic data interchange (EDI). Your order-to-cash process should now be smooth sailing. However, invoice errors keep popping up, which means that the customer will delay payment. Reach out to the invoicing folks and sort out the issue using root-cause analysis and process improvement techniques.

  6. You work in partnership—except with your third-party logistics provider (3PL)

    You set up long-term partnership agreements with all your suppliers, but for some reason you forgot to involve your 3PLs. You see this as a missed opportunity and schedule a meeting for next week. After all, your 3PL interfaces with your customers daily.

  7. You strive for product and process innovation—but prefer not to take risks

    You know that in order to win in the marketplace, consumers are looking for product innovation. The same applies to your business-to-business (B2B) customers who expect you to innovate with improved packaging, shorter lead times and enhanced product performance. That said, you need to take some calculated risks in order to innovate. The message is clear: Don’t stay content with where you are. Experiment to drive innovation and improve efficiency.

  8. You are known in the industry—for mediocre customer service

    Delivering products on time in full should be your goal. It’s true that you can’t please everyone, but customers expect steady baseline performance plus swift customer service recovery. Whether you train your customer relationship management (CRM) team in data-driven empathy or increase the degree of freedom for your employees to engage in rapid customer-focused decision making, what counts is your eagerness to create value for and with your customers.

  9. You have an excellent sales and operations process (S&OP)—on paper

    S&OP meetings are scheduled monthly, but they only actually take place every so often. When you do get together, cross-functional attendance is low and your chief executive officer doesn’t seem to care much. You spend most of your time debating last month’s stockouts rather than looking at demand scenarios 6-18 months out. Agree on gap-closing activities during the S&OP meeting, and then stick with them and gain common ground for improved business performance.

  10. Leadership training? Yes. Travel budget? No.

    You have retrieved a lot of insight online and through talks with colleagues, but it’s time for you to learn from outside experts to develop new skills. While your company offers a catalog full of supply chain leadership training courses, travel budgets are tight and you’ll have to find other ways of knowledge transfer and upskilling.

    From inventory optimization to big data and the latest in manufacturing software, it’s no secret that there are major opportunities in reach to improve the efficiencies in your supply chain. Training and professional development among your staff doesn’t have to be limited to leadership conferences and trade show seminars. Accenture Academy brings the courses to you.

    With more than 200,000 users, Accenture Academy is the online learning solution you need to help your organization build critical skills to improve today’s most important supply chain initiatives. Take advantage of tailored curricula among its 1,400 courses across supply chain, procurement, finance, analytics, leadership and management disciplines.

    Take a test drive with Accenture Academy today to get started

About Accenture Academy

Accenture Academy offers proven, cost-effective learning solutions for a more versatile workforce and a more agile organization. We provide a flexible learning approach that helps your people be more versatile and your entire organization be more agile in the marketplace. Curriculum includes Supply Chain Management, Finance, Procurement, Analytics, Leadership & Management and Specialty Skills.


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