Pain or gain?

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Agility is seen by most leading supply chain practitioners as a virtue. Given the dynamic nature of business, organisations that change and evolve stand the best chance of taking advantage of their competitive environment. However, effecting change is a challenge and the continuous necessity to manage change programmes is both time consuming and laborious.

A new survey by management consultants Capgemini, “Trends in business transformation 2009”’, suggests that of 302 senior executives from companies with over 10,000 employees across France, Germany, the UK and the Netherlands, on average they launch one transformation project every six months and for the majority of respondents (82 per cent), ‘these projects have become vital to successful business management’. However, less than half (47 per cent) felt their company excels in this area.

According to the survey, one of the three main areas for transformation appears to be value-chain optimisation, having experienced an average increase of 15 per cent over the last three years. Some 51 per cent of respondents have undertaken value-chain optimisation work in the last three years to increase efficiencies across the supply chain.

Interestingly, the report indicates that companies are viewing sustainability more as an opportunity (69 per cent) rather than a constraint, with developments in this area been seen as positive for growth in new markets. In many respects this is reflected in this year’s European Supply Chain Excellence Awards entries, with far greater evidence of true sustainability related initiatives.

Our work on judging the 2009 Awards, with management consultants, PRTM, has revealed the continuing evolution and increasing sophistication of supply chain transformation projects across the broad spectrum of European business. The benefits from undertaking change projects of this nature are clearly visible in the results presented to the judging panel and illustrate the advantages to be gained from the pursuit of best-practice.

Change may be challenging, but nonetheless, for the most part, wholly worthwhile. But, the secret to a more pain-free transformation is in understanding and managing change as a continuous process, as a journey to excellence.

This year’s European Supply Chain Excellence Awards presentations take place at the Grosvenor House Hotel, London on the evening of 12th November. More information at

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