What defines a supply chain ômaster"? According to consulting firm Accenture, itÆs the ability to take an end-to-end view of the supply chain, to integrate the supply chain into the companyÆs 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, AccentureÆs ôHigh-Performance Supply Chainö 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 ôsupply chain ômasterö 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 ôone-size-fits-allö strategy, says Bill Read, a partner in AccentureÆs supply chain management practice. Today, the focus is on ôtargeted and more customized strategies,ö Read adds.
Another trait of the ômasters,ö says Read, is that they do not demonstrate a slavish devotion to an industryÆs best practices. What emerged from the survey, he says, is that ôbest practices for an industry may not be the best for you.ö
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 ôsparesö inventories, and that masters of sourcing and procurement delivered 2.5 times more value for every dollar they spent on procurement than companies that havenÆt achieved ômastersö status did.