Keough Associates views the challenge of improving supply chain collaboration in three mutually-dependant dimensions.
Business Process: Before one can improve collaborative business processes like procurement, one must understand their current state. Keough Associates works with the individuals in your firm responsible for the processes being examined. We then:
- Determine the processes to examine, focusing on those likely offer the greatest benefit for the client company. We then place those processes into a broader supply chain context using the SCOR (Supply-Chain Operations Reference) model framework.
- Document the process and its participants using a suite of business process modeling tools.
- Benchmark those processes against the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ (CSCMP) minimum and best practice process standards to determine the relative maturity of the process in question. In some instances we will also provide specific quantitative data to help the client understand how their firm stacks up against general industry and against other companies in their own industry.
- Evaluate the set of rated in-scope business processes with the leadership team to identify processes likely to offer the firm the best return on its investment dollars.
- Design a set of metrics and performance targets that client executives can review using a metrics dashboard to monitor the ongoing progress and health of these processes.
Information & Connective Technology: The ability to connect electronically with customers, suppliers, and other trading partners is one capability that distinguishes leading-edge supply chains from poor performers. However, many companies have had only modest success even in connecting the various internal applications they have invested so heavily in acquiring in the past:
- Enterprise Resource Planning systems (ERP)
- Manufacturing Requirements Planning systems (MRP)
- Transportation Management systems (TMS)
- Warehouse Management systems (WMS)
- Master Production Schedule (MPS)
- Product Data Management (PDM)
- Home-grown legacy systems
- Many, many others
These applications may run on mainframes, Wintel boxes, Solaris, UNIX or Linux servers. For a company that has made numerous acquisitions, each division may even have its own unique set of applications and infrastructure. Add to all this the complexity of multiple operating systems, data stores, messaging or integration middleware and it’s easy to see why a lot of executives have trouble truly understanding the technical capabilities of their enterprise as a whole.
As deep subject matter experts in both supply chain best practices and in analyzing and designing the enterprise IT architectures to best enable those practices, Keough Associates can help your executives sort out fact from fiction. In our experience, once executives have an in-depth understanding about the capabilities of their current IT systems, they can make intelligent decisions about the sort of investments required to take their capabilities to the next level – and what sort of bottom-line return they can expect.
Although technology has made it easier to develop truly collaborative supplier interactions, business is still very much about interpersonal relationships. And crafting successful relationships is all about understanding the business drivers that matter to your trading partners and collaboratively devising approaches that will result in a mutual win-win.
For some companies, building more effective relationships will necessitate significant organizational change. For some it will require a new approach to partner relationships, away from the historically contentious negotiations with suppliers where you ask them to reduce their prices by some percent each year and towards a relationship where you explore mutual supply chain win-wins.
Keough Associates can help your company adopt a program of best practices that will both reduce the cost and improve the effectiveness of your current supplier relationships.