Achieving success with control tower solutions is a multi-layered equation. It starts with clarity of purpose, flows into the technology as the backbone of the solution, and includes integration with existing systems and data.
Clarity of Purpose. Too often organizations aren’t clear on the scope of the control tower solution, the key functions that are included, and the span of control for the particular solution. That’s why control towers often fall short of expectations and benefits realization.
It’s important to understand the focus of the control tower. Common areas include procurement, logistics, production, demand planning, and inventory management. The scope of the control tower allows for the organization to align processes with the underlining technology.
A control tower encompasses a number of key functions, including supply-chain visibility, alerting, scenario planning and supply-chain execution. By defining the functions that the control tower will manage, companies can clarify critical areas and prevent adverse impacts on performance.
In addition, the span of control needs to be defined. Entities included within a control tower can include suppliers, production, warehousing, logistics, customers, and global trading partners. Proper definition of the span of control helps to determine the complexity of the solution, the data required, and the stakeholders who need to be involved.
Control Tower Technology. Identifying the correct control tower technology to form the basis of the solution is a complex endeavor. The process is unique to each organization, because it depends both on the purpose of the solution and existing technology platforms and data. The solution often is an overlay on top of existing systems, and becomes the aggregator or “platform of platforms” that orchestrates key processes. The experience layer of the technology is critical to define, as this is how the solution will become contextualized to the end user. The selection process should focus on a platform that allows for flexibility, a robust set of integration points, and critical functionality based on the purpose of the system.
Integration with Systems and Data. The success of every control tower solution depends on how well it can integrate with existing source systems and data. It needs to function as a complement to those systems. This requires clear a clear definition of data integration and management, seamless data processing, and strong governance. Each organization is unique, based on the history of its system and data decisions. And that makes every control tower unique as well.
Organizations will continue to look to control tower solutions to enhance supply-chain visibility, enable alerting and scenario planning, and provide an integration point for supply-chain execution. Companies desiring success of their control tower initiatives should have a clear purpose and definition for their choice of solution. They should select a flexible technology for the backbone of the control tower, and spend significant effort on integrating source systems and data required to enable functionality.
Andy Prinz is Associate Partner of Supply Chain Management, and Drew Andrews is Senior Consultant of Supply Chain Management, with Infosys Consulting.
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