Supply chain winners share characteristics


The compilers of the Gartner Supply Chain Top 25 for 2012 found several connecting threads between the highly effective companies on the list. Supply chain management is an evolving field as companies become more global and the speed of the processes increases to maintain pace with ecommerce. Therefore, staying abreast of the top companies' practices could help managers in their own operations.

Keeping it simple

Companies can benefit from adding new features with direct benefits to customers and that will help the organization succeed. Gartner found that companies can also boost efficiency by cutting programs that do nothing to help their shoppers or make operations any more efficient. Once pruned, companies are left only with the most profitable elements of their business.

"Supply chain leaders are adopting complexity optimization strategies to eliminate infrequently used product features, service offerings, suppliers and distribution network capacity that does not add sufficient value to customers," offered Gartner's Stan Aronow.

Guarded against disaster

The research organization found that many of the companies in its top rankings had not come through 2011 unscathed. Natural disasters can strike at any time, meaning that companies are always at risk of setbacks. Gartner found that top companies' supply chain management strategies evolved to better prepare for and mitigate disruption during the past year, adding visibility and resiliency at multiple levels.

Both global and local

Gartner found that firms with operations in many countries are moving away from centralized management toward "multilocal" models. These strategies, rather than trying to force each unique portion of a company to fit one plan, let the local branches handle capabilities specifically suited to that location. The multilocal approach still involves an overall corporate strategy but is more prepared to deal with the unique conditions of each market with a supplier, distributor or manufacturer present.

High tech solutions

A separate study by Logistics Management found that companies have recently engaged in a wave of spending on new software to ensure their supply chain processes stay strong. While the market spike following two slow years seems now to have been an isolated incident, the researchers found spending remain steady in the past year.

Logistics Management found wide acceptance for warehouse management systems, transportation management systems and enterprise resource planning. WMS, TMS and ERP systems are meant to make work more visible and exert greater control over processes, aprt of an overall move toward efficiency.