Executive Briefings

Making the Most of Supply Chain's Seat at the Strategy Table

Analyst Insight: Companies spent over $400bn on external management consultants in 2013 with a majority on strategy development and implementation. This figure shows companies struggle to develop and retain strategy as a skill in the talent toolbox. As a pioneer of process engineering and continuous improvement, supply chain has already proven to be an organization that can break complex problems down into simple, repeatable steps. It's now our turn to do the same with strategy. – Matt Davis, SVP Research at SCM World

Making the Most of Supply Chain's Seat at the Strategy Table

Arming the organization for the audacious objectives of today’s CEOs requires far more than reliance on continuous improvement and training basics.  In fact, without a long-term program plan to implement systemic changes, companies may find they continuously improve themselves right out of business.

The common theme to successful supply chain transformation stories is that there is, in fact, a theme.  At its core, supply chain strategy is just an enabler of a broader business strategy.  Connecting this clear, unified view of the future with a program plan and program management that are just as clear and unified is the path forward. 

As you start down that path, consider these recommendations:

Make strategy about everyone.  Too often, the strategy plan and supporting processes seems like a closed-door process limited to the select few.  While it is necessary to constrain the group developing the plans, it doesn’t mean the results and process that generated those results can’t be shared. When it comes to communication, aim to over-share.

But recognize strategy is not about making everyone equal. The single-greatest issue with most strategy program plans is they are not unique.  Attempts to capture all of the active projects and initiatives water down any clear guidance on what should be prioritized and what should be ignored.  Insure your program plan has a unique identity by establishing a theme that is clear, direct and easy to understand.

Start with metrics.  If starting from scratch on a program plan, the structure begins to fall into place if you are able to get the critical few metrics identified and aligned to the three strategy gears.  In reality, most will already have pieces of the program already created.  In those cases, an exercise to refine the metrics to the right set and aligned to different time horizons is what is needed.

Get your story straight. As demonstrated by Unilever – “By 2020, to double revenue while halving [our] environmental footprint” – it could be as simple as getting the right single line theme.  Finally, having a simple, compelling story connected to the strategy theme further helps spread the message in hallways, elevators and proverbial water coolers. 

                                                  The Outlook

Our 2014 CSCO study shows that 51 percent believe supply chain is absolutely an equal business partner to other functions such as marketing, R&D and sales. The conversation for supply chain can no longer be about getting a seat at the business strategy table. We have it. Future success will be dictated by those who craft a clear plan in which supply chain strategy drives overall business strategy and establish the governance programme to make that plan a reality. 

Arming the organization for the audacious objectives of today’s CEOs requires far more than reliance on continuous improvement and training basics.  In fact, without a long-term program plan to implement systemic changes, companies may find they continuously improve themselves right out of business.

The common theme to successful supply chain transformation stories is that there is, in fact, a theme.  At its core, supply chain strategy is just an enabler of a broader business strategy.  Connecting this clear, unified view of the future with a program plan and program management that are just as clear and unified is the path forward. 

As you start down that path, consider these recommendations:

Make strategy about everyone.  Too often, the strategy plan and supporting processes seems like a closed-door process limited to the select few.  While it is necessary to constrain the group developing the plans, it doesn’t mean the results and process that generated those results can’t be shared. When it comes to communication, aim to over-share.

But recognize strategy is not about making everyone equal. The single-greatest issue with most strategy program plans is they are not unique.  Attempts to capture all of the active projects and initiatives water down any clear guidance on what should be prioritized and what should be ignored.  Insure your program plan has a unique identity by establishing a theme that is clear, direct and easy to understand.

Start with metrics.  If starting from scratch on a program plan, the structure begins to fall into place if you are able to get the critical few metrics identified and aligned to the three strategy gears.  In reality, most will already have pieces of the program already created.  In those cases, an exercise to refine the metrics to the right set and aligned to different time horizons is what is needed.

Get your story straight. As demonstrated by Unilever – “By 2020, to double revenue while halving [our] environmental footprint” – it could be as simple as getting the right single line theme.  Finally, having a simple, compelling story connected to the strategy theme further helps spread the message in hallways, elevators and proverbial water coolers. 

                                                  The Outlook

Our 2014 CSCO study shows that 51 percent believe supply chain is absolutely an equal business partner to other functions such as marketing, R&D and sales. The conversation for supply chain can no longer be about getting a seat at the business strategy table. We have it. Future success will be dictated by those who craft a clear plan in which supply chain strategy drives overall business strategy and establish the governance programme to make that plan a reality. 

Making the Most of Supply Chain's Seat at the Strategy Table