Sunday 23rd Oct 2016 - Logistics Manager

Survey highlights difficulties of supply chain strategy implementation

Only a tiny proportion of supply chain strategy implementations run on-time and on-budget, a survey by Cranfield School of Management and Solving Efeso has revealed.

The survey of more than 180 senior global supply chain professionals analysed the strategic development and implementation process in some of the world’s leading organisations.

Alan Waller, Cranfield visiting professor and vice president of supply chain innovation at Solving Efeso said: “Only two per cent of respondents confirmed that their supply chain strategy implementation ran smoothly and on-time and on-budget. The three main causes of implementation failure were: company culture, lack of leadership and poor supply chain visibility. Barriers to strategic success were predominantly people-related, rather than due to technical barriers.”

The research found that the supply chain function is now widely recognised as an important part of the business with around two-thirds having senior supply chain representation in the boardroom. Alignment with corporate strategy and customer service were identified as the leading functional drivers of supply chain strategy. The most important supply chain performance drivers were found to be cost focus, customer lead-time and customer quality.

Professor Richard Wilding from Cranfield’s Centre for Logistics and Supply Chain Management, said: “It is clear that in some organisations, supply chain management is still perceived as a means of reducing cost; not as a means of achieving competitive advantage. Supply chain strategies should not be developed by individuals in isolation. Other departments such as Marketing, IT and Finance need to be held accountable, rather than just consulted, in the development and delivery of a firm’s supply chain strategy.”

The report highlighted that the supply chain strategy review process was highly cross-functional and in many cases a continuous process with regular monitoring and continuous adaptation, according to circumstances. Within organisations that did not have a continuous strategic planning and review process, customer service and cost were identified as the main triggers for a supply chain strategy review.

The report concluded that implementations that are successful have top level support and use vision-led, quantitative modelling and risk management techniques. Success was also found to be higher when Finance, Marketing and IT departments were actively involved and accountable in the strategy development process.