Now that technology designed to improve supply chain performance has been around for awhile, there's really no excuse for seriously blowing the implementation. Yet far too many companies still make major mistakes when purchasing supply chain IT systems.
Managers have described to me what typically happens: First, a mandate comes down from the top to boost profitability by creating a faster, more demanddriven supply chain. Managers rush to slap what they hope will be quick technological fixes onto the processes they've long had in place for moving and tracking inventory through the chain. But when it comes time to assess their accomplishments, they find they haven't cut cycle time or reduced inventory after all. Instead, it becomes clear they've wasted a lot of time and money on efforts that fall far short of the goals.
The reasons for the disappointing results are sadly familiar. Too often, managers at these companies don't have a good appreciation of the importance of business processes. Because of the company's structure, their thinking focuses more on managing internal functional "silos" and not on optimizing the supply chain. They fail to integrate internal processes seamlessly to perform as one overall smooth process focused on customer satisfaction. And they're unable to get key supply chain partners involved in ongoing collaborative efforts aimed at continuous supply chain improvement.
Supply chain excellence never comes easily. The companies that achieve stellar results spend hours on detailed up-front analysis, long before technology makes any impact. There's a lesson to be learned here: Before you start asking technology vendors for quotes, make sure your supply chain processes are as good as they can be. That means asking—and answering—questions like the following: