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Every supply chain professional worth their salt should be constantly on the look out for ways of improving supply chain performance – particularly so at the present time.

This may be by ensuring that a logistics service provider is incentivised to deliver value through innovation, or by identifying inefficient processes that should be automated by the application of intelligent IT solutions.

There are many possibilities for improving service performance, and more often than not, the rewards can be measured in reduced levels of inventory, cost savings and increased customer satisfaction.

However, there is a problem. Companies that correctly identify areas for improvement and reap the financial benefits of addressing the issues are often reluctant to share the good news. The widely held perception is, if you alert your customers to the cost savings that have been made, they will want a slice of the action and demand a more competitive price.

Indeed, keeping your commercial advantage under your hat may also be seen as a sensible approach by many – why tell the competition how you have improved your business?

These are significant barriers to sharing good ideas and best practice. However, supply chain practitioners are better positioned than most to realise the benefits of sharing best practice and the advantages that can be gained through close collaboration with suppliers.

Being proactive and demonstrating a leadership position in the market can offer excellent competitive advantage – one that outweighs the short-term, protectionist view. The winners will not be the companies that work in isolation or hide their light under a bushel; it will be the ones that develop a culture of confidence, innovation and leadership.

And of course, there is a wonderful opportunity to demonstrate that leadership – entries are now being sought for the European Supply Chain Excellence Awards 2009 at 

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