July 1, 2009

supply chain master: a definition

New research into high-performing supply chains looks at what sets the best apart from the rest …

By Mark B. Solomon

What defines a supply chain “master"? According to consulting firm Accenture, it’s the ability to take an end-to-end view of the supply chain, to integrate the supply chain into the company’s overall business strategy, to develop the proper metrics to correlate performance and expectations, and to be superior in two or three disciplines, or domains.

The survey, Accenture’s “High-Performance Supply Chain” study, was conducted across a field of 1,500 practitioners in more than 20 countries, the largest such survey Accenture has conducted in nearly six years. It was designed to offer a window into the qualities of a “supply chain “master” and the performance advantages that can be gained by achieving the distinction.

According to the survey, masters have a big-picture vision of their supply chain but focus their execution and investment in specific areas where they will stand apart from their competition. In the past, supply chain excellence had been driven by a “one-size-fits-all” strategy, says Bill Read, a partner in Accenture’s supply chain management practice. Today, the focus is on “targeted and more customized strategies,” Read adds.

Another trait of the “masters,” says Read, is that they do not demonstrate a slavish devotion to an industry’s best practices. What emerged from the survey, he says, is that “best practices for an industry may not be the best for you.”

The survey examined mastery of six functions: sourcing and procurement, supply chain planning, fulfillment, manufacturing, innovation and product development, and service management. It found that masters of supply chain planning achieved 10 percent greater forecasting accuracy than their counterparts did; that service management masters attained 33 percent better turns on “spares” inventories, and that masters of sourcing and procurement delivered 2.5 times more value for every dollar they spent on procurement than companies that haven’t achieved “masters” status did.

About the Author

Mark B. Solomon
Executive Editor - News
Mark Solomon joined DC VELOCITY as senior editor in August 2008, and was promoted to his current position on January 1, 2015. He has spent more than 30 years in the transportation, logistics and supply chain management fields as a journalist and public relations professional. From 1989 to 1994, he worked in Washington as a reporter for the Journal of Commerce, covering the aviation and trucking industries, the Department of Transportation, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, he worked for Traffic World for seven years in a similar role. From 1994 to 2008, Mr. Solomon ran Media-Based Solutions, a public relations firm based in Atlanta. He graduated in 1978 with a B.A. in journalism from The American University in Washington, D.C.

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