Pinnacle of excellence

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More than four hundred of Europe’s leading supply chain professionals attended the prize-giving event of the 12th European Supply Chain Excellence Awards at the Grosvenor House Hotel in London on the evening of the 28th October.

The Awards, organised by Supply Chain Standard in partnership with PRTM, are recognised as the industry’s premiere Awards programme, and were supported this year by the generous sponsorship of: The Awareness Group, BT Supply Chain, George Henderson, Kewill, Kuehne + Nagel, The Logistics Network, Michael Page Procurement and Supply Chain, and Toyota Material Handling.

Hosting the evening was TV personality Jeremy Vine who announced the winners of the 12 Awards which covered industry sectors (FMCG/CPG, Retail & Distribution, Telecoms Hi-Tech & Electronics, Aerospace Defence & Industrial, and Public Sector Services & Utilities), supply chain processes (Sourcing & Procurement and Logistics & Fulfilment), Innovation, Environmental Improvement, Team of the Year, Individual Contribution, and the Overall Winner.

The European Supply Chain Excellence Awards were launched in 1997 as an initiative to recognise and reward organisations in Europe that demonstrate excellence in their supply chain operations. It remains unique in its rigorous approach to analysing, assessing and judging the many applicants from across Europe. This year close on 40 companies were shortlisted for an Award, having scored sufficiently highly with their initial questionnaire.

From those finalists the judges required further in-depth information and each company was required to make a presentation to the assessors – this included comprehensive questioning from the judges (See Gordon Colborn’s Awards analysis below for more details on the judging process).

The European Supply Chain Excellence Awards have found yet another very worthy Overall Winner this year in Nokia Siemens Networks. The hi-tech telecoms networking equipment and services company took the top Award having impressed the judges with its transformational approach to a highly competitive market place. The company is breaking new ground in building a supply chain that goes beyond just moving boxes to one where service and software are integrated in a seamless way. NSN has taken a step into a part of supply chain management that is still uncharted territory, where software and hardware come together.

Once again the Overall Winner comes from the hi-tech sector, following previous hi-tech wins from Infineon last year, Dell in 2004 and Cisco Systems in 2002. To some degree this is hardly surprising, given the dynamic nature and tremendous cost pressures that exist in this industry sector. Here companies are forced to consider new and innovative ways of addressing their market place if they wish to remain in business. As Gordon Colborn, director at PRTM and partners in the European Supply Chain Excellence Awards, observes: “Competing on cost, quality and lead-times is not enough anymore, you need to operate in a completely different way to gain advantage – those in the telecoms and hi-tech sectors recognise this.

“What makes Nokia Siemens Networks really different is that the company is not doing it from a purely cost basis – as most companies would – NSN is looking at the supply chain to deliver growth.”

But apart from Nokia Siemens Networks there are groundbreaking wins to hear about from Kimberly-Clark, Belron, BT Supply Chain, Mondi, Electrabel, CitySprint, Hewlett Packard CDS, Lego Group, Guy’s & Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust, and Vodafone. A comprehensive review of this year’s winners can be found over the following pages.

Overcoming the obstacles

This year’s winner is overcoming obstacles that every European company faces – delivering the highest performing supply chain that offsets the advantages many Asian companies have in terms of low-cost manufacture. Gordon Colborn

This year we attracted a very high number of entries and so consequently the bar for finalists was set very high. This made selecting the winners very difficult indeed.

As in the last two years of our involvement we scored all of the segment award entries on the five core disciplines of: supply chain strategy; processing systems architecture; supply chain organisation; performance management; and collaboration. Exactly the same as we did last year and the year before. In addition, we considered each company entry on a number of other dimensions: How clearly did they communicate what they have done? Were they passionate about what they have been doing? Have they really engaged the senior management? Did they convince us of both the scope and the magnitude of what they have achieved?

In particular, we had to look carefully at the scope, scale and progress of each entry. The really tough thing was to understand exactly where each company was on the journey to achieving its objective. Comparisons often have to be made between companies that have just started the journey, others that have been on a journey for several years and others again that are only half way through that journey. We have to be sure that we are judging entries on what they have actually achieved and not on what they plan to achieve.

There are a number of interesting observations that can be made from the entries this year. With Nokia Siemens Networks we have a truly deserving overall winner, a company that embraces the use of the supply chain to deliver competitive advantage. This company is driven by the need to do this – they don’t have a choice – they are not in an industry where you can choose to be okay, you have to be excellent. They are in a cut-throat industry where there are literally a handful of global competitors and if you don’t have the highest performing supply chain your very survival is threatened.

What is particularly interesting is that they are not doing this from a purely cost basis, as most companies would, they are looking to the supply chain to deliver growth.

We have a winner here that embodies the characteristics that European supply chains need to be the best performing in the world. We have a winner that is overcoming obstacles that every European company faces: to deliver the highest performing supply chain that more than offsets the advantages that many Asian companies have in terms of low-cost manufacture.

When it comes to environmental commitment, there are much stronger indications this year that companies are moving to act on environmental policy, rather than just talking about it. With both CitySprint and Vodafone it’s clear that sustainability is a real issue that is being incorporated into the way the two companies operate; with Vodafone it’s evident in procurement, with CitySprint it’s in every aspect of the business. “Green” is not just being talked about, it’s happening, and we haven’t seen that in previous years.

We were delighted this year to see a significant number of entries for the Innovation award. These entries demonstrated how organisations are driving change by the adoption of new, innovative supply chain practice. It is particularly rewarding to see an organisation like Guy’s & Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust introduce changes that will transform the industries that they work in. We hope the Awards programme will help encourage more companies to identify, develop and implement innovations that not only transform their own business, but provide the foundation for industry transformation.

In the Sourcing and Procurement category, Vodafone presented an interesting insight into how companies can incorporate sustainable thinking into their procurement processes. The company is using information relating to a product’s carbon footprint in its procurement catalogues. Will companies soon be selecting suppliers on their carbon performance? Another interesting emerging trend within Sourcing and Procurement is the move away from the confrontational aspects of talking cost with suppliers and moving to a model centred round growth through collaboration.

However, despite all of the progress demonstrated by this year’s finalists I remain concerned by how many companies still do not appreciate the magnitude of the opportunity to use the supply chain to deliver competitive advantage. What really differentiated this year’s winner, Nokia Siemens Network, was the clear demonstration of how the supply chain had been used to support the business strategy and to help deliver competitive advantage.  

Gordon Colborn is a director of PRTM and was responsible for the facilitation of the judging process.

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