Victoria Ma, digital and innovation lead for North America with Miebach Consulting, explains how the exercise of process mining can help supply chains achieve a new level of agility in responding to orders and unexpected changes in customer demand.
Supply chain agility has two distinct aspects, Ma says: speed in order processing and delivery to the customer, and the ability to adjust quickly to changes in customer demand. And, given the unpredictability of shoppers’ behavior today, the need for those capabilities is more pressing than ever before, she says.
Despite that state of urgency, companies are having a hard time acquiring the necessary agility. “They’re lacking the infrastructure, processes and mindset to predict the future and make changes in a timely manner,” Ma says. Second, organizations have no way to alter processes from planning to execution when deviations in demand occur.
One solution is process mining. Ma describes it as being able to track the entire path of products through the supply chain — when they were purchased, received and delivered. It involves drawing data from multiple information systems, include enterprise resource planning, order management, warehouse management and transportation management.
The modeling will eventually cover the end-to-end supply chain, but it can start with key segments such as distribution center fulfillment or order management. “It depends on where the company’s current challenges are,” Ma says.
The individual who oversees a process-mining initiative depends on the functions that most need to be addressed. But in all cases, Ma says, the development of models and proofs of concept needs to involve individuals from both the IT side and supply chain domain team. “In each case,” she says, “the strategy goes from the top down, although you need the two sides together.”
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