It was difficult to achieve supply chain excellence in 2021, but those companies that did exhibited five common traits, according to research from the analyst group Gartner. These traits were distilled from research around Gartner’s annual Top 25 Supply Chains list and were presented during a keynote session on the second day of Gartner’s Supply Chain Symposium, analysts Pia Orup Lund and Chris Poole.
The traits include:
CSCO role with expansive responsibilities. At leading companies, the role of the CSCO has expanded, and its influence has spread. For example, some CSCOs now have oversight of functions not traditionally considered part of supply chain, such as customer service/experience and IT.
Involvement in broad ecosystems: Companies with top-performing supply chains also set themselves apart by working collaboratively with a broad ecosystem of partners on initiatives that go beyond a single company’s interests. Sometimes these efforts even involve working with competitors on common industry-wide goals, such as environmental, social and governance initiatives.
One such broad ecosystem is General Mills’ (number 23 on Gartner’s list) regenerative agriculture program. Regenerative agriculture is an approach to farming and ranching that incorporates conservation efforts such as topsoil regeneration, increasing biodiversity, and improving water retention. General Mills’ program involves using its scale and influence to expand adoption of these practices to its partners.
“Self-stabilizing” supply chains. Top supply chains in 2021 were those best able to navigate countless supply chain disruptions. In many cases, this resilience and agility was driven by being able to shift funding and resources to emerging critical needs and by accelerating the decision-making process.
Schneider Electric (number 2), for example, has been able to accelerate the decision-making process for what kinds of customizations it can provide to its customers for its engineer-to-order products. In real time, the company is able to communicate with customers about the feasibility of requested customizations and what effect those changes would have on cost and lead time.
Ambitious sustainability agenda. Top ranking companies are typically involved in sustainability efforts that extend beyond their own company to include others in their supply chain. These efforts may include reducing “scope 3 emissions,” or greenhouse gas emissions from assets that are not owned by the company but are part of its overall supply chain.
The beverage company Diageo (number 16), for example, is working with glass manufacturer Encirc and the research and technology organization Glass Futures to reduce the carbon footprint of the bottle-making process.
Human-centric automation. Supply chain leaders are focusing on making investments in automation that improve employees’ workflows and work experience. For example, technology company Intel (number 7) is has begun using augmented reality as a part of its training and development programs for manufacturing employees. The use of this technology has improved the training experience for employees while also making the process faster and more consistent.