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A decade ago people used to believe that people, process and technology are the three Business enablers. John F Kennedy once said, “the Chinese use two brush strokes to write the word ‘crisis.’ one brush stroke stands for danger; the other for opportunity. In a crisis, be aware of the danger–but recognize the opportunity”. In today’s world globalization propels the business growth and at the same time, presents massive challenges in the form of supply chain. This phenomenon called globalization impacts the economy, product life cycle, society, environment and personal life too.
I am not sure if anyone measured the increase in competition due to globalization, but surely the globalization has immensely improved sustainable competitiveness in many organisations. In order to be competitive in this world of uncertainties and volatile market conditions, we need a successful formula that could deliver and address challenges such as global reach, price competitiveness, agility and rapidity to reach the market, improved production and supply lead time, make vs. buy decisions, identifying non-core activities and outsourcing, improved operating profit after capital charge, on top of all this, EVA, total customer satisfaction and happy investors. The role of the supply chain has never been as important as it is in today’s globalized economy. Supply Chain speed and agility have become two key levers for competitive differentiation and increased profitability. Today’s supply Chain successfully handles all the challenges identified above and converts those challenges into opportunities in order to deliver competitive advantage to the organisation. And it is proved time and again that Supply Chain is the core business enabler apart from people, process and technology.
Today there is no dearth for technology, we have variety of technological tools that offer variety of automation, the need of the hour is the people who can understand the business dynamics and customer expectations and develop effective supply chain processes that adds value and delivers competitive advantage and sustainability to the business.
Supply Chain delivers broadly four competitive advantages to the business and that includes, cost benefits, flexibility benefits, quality benefits and last but not least is the lead time benefits. These benefits are driven through Planning, Continuous Improvement, Quality (standard work to achieve consistency) and the ability to reach global customers faster and efficiently.
The below figure shows the supply chain functional pyramid:
Whereas the business is not a charity, in order to be successful, it has to generate profits keep the shareholders happy and encourage them to invest more money into the business. George W Bush rightly pointed out that, “you can’t do today’s job with yesterday’s methods and be in business tomorrow”. And that is where we need effective, advanced and cutting-edge supply chain processes and efficiencies. A good business leader should create a vision, articulate it passionately and drive towards completion. Any good vision will have four “P”s in it, people, process, product and profitability. If you look into the business objectives pyramid, you will find all these elements in one form or the other.
The below figure shows the Business Growth and Prosperity Pyramid:
In the month of December 2013, Hitachi Consulting group report (published in Europe) indicated that 80% of supply chain managers do not see their supply chain as an enabler of business strategies within their organisation. Greg Kinsey, VP of Hitachi Consulting, said: “The results from our survey make one thing very clear – disconnect between a company’s business transformation strategy and the day-to-day management of the supply chain remains a serious, yet hidden, problem for many organisations. Hence, it is absolutely necessary to align the supply chain transformation strategy with the business strategy in order to excel in today’s dynamic, challenging, volatile, confusing, compelling, and exasperating world of business. The below figure explains the alignment between supply chain transformation and business growth and prosperity with right people, processes and with the help of technology.
It is very critical that the supply chain transformation is well aligned with business growth and prosperity strategies. The below figure illustrates the path for the alignment.
Organizations may have to recognize that the supply chain transformation and alignment with the organisational goals and objectives delivers a competitive market differentiation. The uniqueness sells; let us not forget that uniqueness’s core objective is to create that magic of alignment between supply chain and organisational goals. In order to achieve the short and long term goals the transformed and aligned supply chain will have critical influence on business and organisational outcomes and to large extent on the shareholders and customers.
It is worth concluding this article with 7 simple supply chain lessons taught by Steve Jobs of Apple Computers (Source: Supplychain247.com)