By Bruce Tompkins, Executive Director, Tompkins Supply Chain Consortium
Performing an assessment of your company's supply chains may seem pretty basic. However unique skills and expertise are often required to ensure your supply chain aligns with your strategic objectives. Understanding how to achieve a competitive advantage requires analytical skills and deep experience in a range of supply chain processes in order for a thorough analysis to be performed quickly. These skills vary, including obtaining benchmark metrics with best in class operations and/or key competitors. They can also require identifying the right processes, practices, and enabling technologies that should be analyzed to identify areas where high value improvements are possible. Take a look at our top 4 tips for a successful supply chain assessment:
- Operations Strategy Supports the Business Strategy: The key to a well-designed supply chain assessment is ensuring there is a clear view of how the operations strategy is structured to support the overall business strategy. This is a foundational element for the assessment. You have to know where the business is headed before you can assess if your supply chain can meet the goals.
- Approaching the Assessment: Ask yourself, "What is the scope and how broad of a mandate does the assessment team has?" An assessment needs to be approached like any project with objectives, scope, deliverables, and a timeline. There needs to be buy-in from the participants, and accountability for each of the components that are part of the assessment.
- Internal and External Perspectives: Assessments should have an internal and external perspective in order to provide meaningful results. An internal focus is needed to understand how to create standardized processes across the company. Alternatively, an external focus is critical so that best practices and metrics being evaluated are relevant to your customer (and in beating your competition). The use of both internal and external perspectives provides the most accurate roadmap for future improvement.
- Actionable Roadmap: The end game for a supply chain assessment is an actionable roadmap with specific recommendations for short, medium, and longer team steps to enhance the end-to-end operation of your supply chain.
A supply chain assessment can be part of a broader strategic planning initiative that addresses a recent or upcoming event, such as the holiday season for a retailer, or a new product launch for a high-tech or pharmaceutical company. It can also be a key element of a new strategic initiative directed at accelerating sales or margin growth, rebranding efforts, or integration (or divestiture) of new business operations.