Supply chain leaders have embraced process management as the core competence for improving logistics, planning, production and even purchasing. But to get the most out of it, here are great tips to beat commonly made mistakes:
- Understand your customer
Simply put: the number 1 objective of any supply chain is to serve the customer… So the customer’s perspective should be the DNA of any supply chain process! Before you start drawing flow charts, make sure you have a clear understanding of what customers value. Ask for feedback and involve your customers. Keep (and improve) what is really important to your customer and remove processes and activities which are of no real value to them. As Henry Ford once put it: “It’s the customer who pays the wages”. So direct your energy and resources to things that make your customer happy.
- Teams make the best processes
Tap from your human capital. To get the best processes and ways of working, all you need to do is involve your teams. Make a little bit of time (structurally) to reflect and improve operational processes. Because when ownership, belief and trust are there, your teams will make the best possible processes. And with ownership, comes motivation. That’s a free bonus!
- Metrics work!
We all know we can’t manage what we can’t measure. It is important to set metrics because it will help visualize performance, which will lead to better decision-making. However, don’t over-engineer (no need for 20 metrics, if you can run your operation on 5). Avoid sub-optimizing, so think end-to-end when defining Supply chain KPI’s. A key watch-out, especially in supply chain environments, is that it is still very common that different teams are focused on their process only. So be sure to focus on the bigger picture when measuring performance, to avoid sub-optimization. Measure, but keep oversight.
- Processes are living things
In nature, species are constantly evolving to better adapt to their environment. But ‘survival of the fittest’ clearly is also a reality in supply chain management. With quickly changing markets, technological evolutions and disruptive new business models, supply chains need to be fit, as should their processes. So more than ever, supply chains will be measured by the fitness and agility of their processes. Forget SOP’s that are reviewed every other year. Supply chain managers need to be vigilant process managers. Continuously looking to assess, adapt, adjust.