Due process: How managed services can alleviate the stress of complexity


iStock_000026890322_DoubleAs supply chains have grown larger and the strategies that they are composed of grow more complex, many enterprises have found themselves increasingly focused on the process journey, with less and less attention available for the destination - customer fulfillment. This has happened for many reasons, including the proliferation of applications, the addition of partnerships, the tightening of compliance regulations, the increased concern with security. However, there’s a tendency, in all of these matters, for businesses to try and process these problems out of consideration. Countering complexity with complexity doesn't always work out, as many enterprises have discovered. It's important to be able to differentiate between new approaches that simplify process complexity and which may only compound issues further. 

Falling out of alignment

In many instances, conflicting forces - the drive to use more analytical insights versus the effort to make users more productive - can cause problems. While these two examples can certainly function in harmony, many companies likely can remember times in which a move to utilize more data ended up bogging down rather than liberating personnel. In some cases, becoming more granular, rigorous and exacting in the rollout or utilization of specific initiatives can be more ineffective than not, with business initiatives concentrating too much on a few single, isolated trees and forgetting that they have to maintain control over a forest. 

A recent report by the Institute of Risk Management discussed the importance of developing a coherent overarching vision instead of concentrating too much on a few specific process issues.

"In the world of the extended enterprise, the foundations for success are built on a compelling vision, clearly expressed, and on the alignment of explicit values that are constantly reinforced by the way that leaders demonstrate them in practice," the report stated. "The more powerful and attractive the vision, the more likely it is that followers will buy that vision and commit their personal energies to achieving it. But it must be sincere, sustained and aligned to motivations and values to succeed in the long term."

The paper's focus on supply chain executives' need to be "leading rather than managing" speaks to the fact that these professionals need solutions that offset the maintenance, resource usage and costs of supply chain processes so that they can redirect better aligned attention to the chain as a whole. 

The proof is in the process: How managed services fill in the gaps

Managed services can help resolve process-related issues and allow companies to take a sleeker, more refined approach to the supply chain as a whole. As The Wall Street Journal contributor Lalit Panda recently observed, implementing data, sensors and other close tools for operational observation can greatly help companies  gain more competitive leverage. At the same time, focusing too heavily on the granular can hinder organizations' efforts to make broad, bold decisions. Managed services can help shore up businesses' efforts to get granular while alleviating the pressure and responsibility to have to do the heavy lifting themselves.

Among the solutions managed services providers can offer include those for B2B integration, omni-channel commerce support and electronic data interchange. One can work with an organization to identify strengths and weaknesses in its existing supply chain, evaluate the impact that planned changes or deployments may have and develop a stronger plan of action for the future. It can also continue on as a partner in the rollout of new applications, onboarding of business partners and monitoring of system effectiveness. This allows organizations to continue focusing on customer fulfillment and competitive development without having to simultaneously oversee the nitty-gritty of application environments and user acclimation. Ultimately, managed services provide simple relief in an age of burgeoning complexity.

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