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Recently, Supply Chain Digest’s (SCD) Editor-in-Chief, Dan Gilmore, shared insights from a joint SCD-Gartner study focused on identifying the top priorities of supply chain professionals. In its sixth year, this study, led by Gartner analysts Dwight Klappich and Chad Eschinger, showed a shift in priorities over the last few years. As the economy ever-so-slowly recovers, it’s becoming apparent that companies are striving to return to “pre-recession volumes and activity without adding back all the supply chain head count and costs”—a trend arguably supported by recent employment numbers.
While the last few years have predictably seen cost-cutting measures holding the top spots on the survey, for 2013, companies have set their sights on using the supply chain to drive business growth as the primary goal, with customer service following a close second and reducing costs at number three. This is further recognition of the supply chain’s journey to the board room table as a key contributor, and now driver, of overall business strategy and development.
So what’s holding companies back from achieving these goals?
As many might expect, forecast accuracy/demand variability came out on top, followed by an inability to synchronize end-to-end processes, and a lack of enterprise-wide supply chain visibility. Interestingly, these problematic issues are mainstays that supply chain solution providers address with advanced supply chain planning solutions. You’d expect most companies to have solved these issues by leveraging such technologies by now. Yet the study identifies a discrepancy between the desire of companies for supply chain agility, and the flexibility of the supply chain software they currently have. This “agility gap” is large, with some 85% of respondents saying that flexible supply chain applications are critical, but only 42% saying their current software provides that flexibility.
Curious indeed. Triple Point’s Supply Chain Optimization (SCO) solution has been helping companies with these issues for over 25 years. We’ve worked with companies throughout the process industry to achieve flexibility to respond to unplanned events, obtain visibility to see the entire supply chain at a glance, and improve accuracy in forecasting, scheduling, and distribution.
So, what’s happening behind the scenes? Are these companies not recognizing this disconnect? Are they establishing their supply chain priorities without a tangible plan in place to achieve them?
This notable discrepancy makes us agree with Dan’s concluding remarks that “companies should probably raise the flexibility to make needed changes higher up in the selection criteria weighting versus functionality differences that dominate selection processes today.” Well said, Dan. Stay tuned.