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.