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To ensure efficiency in an organization, coordination and consistency in the way things are defined is a foundational need.  This applies to the day-to-day life of your employees to more broader topics in a business like the operation of its supply chain.  Consistency ensures accuracy in troubleshooting a problem as outliers and poor performing actors are easily and readily identifiable.  However, one of the biggest challenges is how to drive centralized definitions and have a readily available “Single Definition of the Truth”.  The concept of “Single Definition of Truth” can be a bit mis-leading at times since there are often filters and lenses that the truth is observed through and as a result can be a bit unclear what is true.  Hence the need for standards and process definitions, to ensure that no matter how information and processes are viewed they all lead back to a common reference point.

The supply chain is a living and breathing entity where nothing is perfect, but the closer you can get to perfection the more impact there is on profitability.  The question of value here is how consistency and standards can be improved within an organization and across a rapidly changing and critical area such as the supply chain without adding to the disruption.  There are many ways that the supply chain of a manufacturing company can be impacted both internal (i.e., labor shortages, quality issues, etc.) and external (i.e., material shortages, extreme weather events, etc.) and the companies that do the best are the ones that manage these ‘live’ and are able to pare out the overhead.

To identify what areas are such as a vast and dynamic topic as supply chain, industry benchmarking provides a standard way to guide the top-level leadership of an organization to the areas that need the most attention.  Alignment of the benchmarking report with the corporate goals and aspirations is then the next step to ensure that the change proposed is in fact the change that is going to keep the most momentum over time.  The main way that momentum is then built out in the organization is by empowering key stakeholders not with mandates but with knowledge.  Empowerment through education that is centered around best practice concepts is what generates inspiration to drive the change needed and to garner the support for it.  The old saying of “The frog in the well, do not know the ocean” certainly applies here and investing in alignment and then empowerment up front, will help to increase the willingness to change.

Once the business team is aligned and empowered the work with the technology team (IT) can begin, first with introductions and basic team building; trust across the teams is paramount to success.  Then the exercise of taking the various business areas, and their processes, and overlaying them with technical systems supporting them can start.  The technical team can then add in their own priorities and business plan to either keep, enhance, or replace what is already in place.  There are clear budgetary constraints here and as a result having the proper alignment top down at the onset will ensure the efforts do not die on the vine.  This process of priority and then cost and impact analysis is a key part to the overall enterprise led transformation and will have impacts ranging from supplier logistics down to the manufacturing floor and out to your customers.

Top-down improvement can be successful and the ability to drive it will prove to be an invaluable exercise for the organization.