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Sustainable and intentional decision making in the ”new normal”

Fast paced and intentional decision making in today's "new normal" is key for developing the Supply Chain and securing your business results. In this blogpost we will look at why technology is an enabler when it comes to effective Supply Chain design.

The “new normal”
We live in a world where the “new normal” is increased instability, brought about by a multitude of causes. Political uncertainty combined with a leadership vacuum among governments everywhere, technology disrupters, emerging new business models and the shift away from globalization back to economic nationalism.

These and other factors are contributing to the fragmentation of established Supply Chain networks. Climate change, as it impacts the environment, weather and water patterns, is bringing higher risks to food and beverage Supply Chains in particular. Some global brands are taking a stand and fighting back. Technology is proving to be both a disrupter and solution provider as companies race to solve the mounting problems caused, as just described.

End to end alignment
If we look closer at the Supply Chain, we could say that the end-to-end Supply Chain is a system with three key “subsystems” at play. A customer market, a supplier market, and the organization (ourselves) in the middle. To design more appropriate responses, we need to understand the drivers within each subsystem and how they inter react. With that we mean:

– The behavioral drivers and segments in the customer marketplace
– The behavioral drivers and segments in the supplier marketplace
– Our own in-house network, which is effectively a decoupling zone between Supply and demand

Summarizing we could say that the Supply Chain design should convey the different types of activities needed on the demand side and the capabilities we need to draw upon from the supply side. It proactively enables us to make intentional decisions when designing the network , including how and where to buffer or decouple along the chain/network.

Faster and better decision making
Decision making in operational environments is changing. The quantity and quality of data available to support decision making are growing exponentially. Focus in on exceptions, with more routine tasks automated. But in a more volatile environment, risk is higher and assumptions harder to make. What has not changed, however, is that despite of all the decision support available, the critical strategic decisions will still come down to individuals and leadership teams.

Complexity demands technology for Supply Chain design
That is where Supply Chain technology comes in handy. ERP systems are partially enforcing organizational siloes with limited scenario and analytics capabilities. Also, business intelligence initiatives and data lakes are limiting the insights into the future as it is typically projecting historical or current set ups, lacking alternative solutions never used before. Insight gaps and decision evaluation are based using an excel solution.

As also described earlier, the challenge is, that the pace of internal and external events that impact our supply chains is ever increasing. So is the interdependency of those events and the functions within the supply chain networks. With a complexity well beyond the grasp of excel, there is an immense need to augment and improve to make more  sustainable and intentional decisions. That is why technology is needed.

What is Supply Chain design?
Through scenario analysis, with mathematical models built in none-code environments on top of powerful solvers, Supply Chain Designs offers organizations a flexible approach to:

  • Articulate the complexity and events in the Supply Chain and understand and act upon the principles under which it operates across all its functions (end to end)
  • Articulate the relevant actions and decisions the organization need to take every day to support the realization of its strategy and vision
  • Evaluate the consequences and risk associated with those actions and decisions across the entire supply chain
  • Make decision recommendations given different organizational objectives among the overwhelming amount of solutions that each scenario typically holds

In other words, given strategic objectives on sustainability, operational cost, market growth, or service requirement etc., Supply Chain Design let you resolve infrastructure and policy question such as

  • optimal number, size, and locations of facilities (suppliers, plants, warehouses )
  • the best flow and decupling point set up for products in your network
  • optimal mode of transport (air, ocean, truck, drones etc.) on your lanes
  • best routing for shipment pickup and delivery
  • .. and many more

How can it benefit your business and your Supply Chain?
As a result, you will be able improve your balance between costs (logistics, inventory, labour, utilities, taxes), risks (fire, flood, natural disaster, strike, legal, political) and carbon emissions. As well as your service levels (customer satisfaction) and the flexibility of your business.

Supply Chain Design initiatives typically produce significant cost savings and service improvements, especially when integrated into the decision making processes.

You will be able to:

  • Put your supply chain in context with visualizations that highlight trends
  • Quantify your supply chain health to see performance
  • Monitor and track supply chain performance with a living baseline for a view of the ecosystem and its policies
  • Model, track, monitor and share visualizations with stakeholders for more buy-in and bigger thinking

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