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7 Steps for a Collaborative Process in Supply Chain Transformation

Strategy
7 Steps for a Collaborative Process in Supply Chain Transformation

What is the real advantage of collaboration?

Why is it (sometimes) better to narrow your scope to increase your productivity?

It becomes substantial to collaborate in nowadays extremely connected environments. Specialization per area brings advantages that are globally escalated, mainly when service providers concentrate their strong points between reduced boundaries.

To explain this, here is the process that we followed to introduce external technology solutions at a customer’s supply chain. We made sure our external partners and our consulting solutions met our customers requirements with 7 easy phases:

 

Supply Chain Strategy

 

Global supply chain process assessment:

VUSE Supply Chain (VSC) individually evaluated relevant processes of the customer’s exchange of cargo from a supply chain point of view. It considered all their origins towards all their destinations, with a segmentation per final receiver, shipping method, industry and location, in order to identify pain-points.

VSC identified all service providers (LSP, carriers, agents, consultants, IT service providers). Their efficiency and alignment with customer’s corporate goals were assessed. Following some internal tools and technology solutions, the main driver was to find opportunities for improvement, in terms of:

  • costs of transport and shipping methods.
  • timing and accurability of manual tasks.
  • exchanges of information, documents and prices.

Surveys were exchanged with the main stakeholders involved in the customer’s supply chain to trigger main areas of improvement in terms of bottlenecks, technological use, extra costs and identified needs vs available resources.

The company’s supply chain alignment between structure and strategy on corporate, departmental (transversal) and local levels were ascertained. The main task was to draw up a roadmap to achieve goals through a reengineering of multiple processes and digitization of communication, document exchange and visibility of shipments.

At this stage, it was imperative to define if the customer preferred  the transformation process to be gradual, if they wanted a trial and error plan, or if, on the contrary, the objective was to apply a total process reengineering to their supply chain.

 

Strategy Architecture & Roadmap:

VSC drawed up a plan with a project timeline and a to-do list (tasks and objectives) with the recommendations and proposals by VSC on the possible changes to be achieved by a digital transformation at the customer’s internal processes, including VSC external tech partners’ services.

This plan was composed of (but it was not limited to) the following points:

  • Technology: definition of which technological processes should be included in the product, document flow and communications flows within their supply chain. Also, how VSC was going to manage the landing of the implementation of external partners’ technologies in the supply chain’s new strategy.
  • Suppliers: a general assessment was provided to the customer on the different contracted LSPs. The assessment was categorized by performance per origin, destination, type of services, alignment to customer’s global strategy, costs and others, prioritizing the client’s objectives in the value proposition previously defined.
  • External indicators: useful information was given on external indicators that could affect the customer’s supply chain (industry trends, macroeconomic forecasts, tips & tricks, performance KPI’s from Logistics Service Providers/Carriers/Ports, others).

 

Implementation on Customer’s Internal Stakeholders:

As supply chain structure and main pain-points were studied in previous phases, the main task of VSC at this point was to be a linking point (e.g.: to introduce all relevant stakeholders and to act as a supporting player), as per the following:

  • Customer’s Supply Chain Department: given the intimacy built up by VSC with the customer in previous phases, it kept a close contact to coordinate implementation timing and needed resources, ask additional inputs to oversee the process and clarify on-the-run doubts. Details related to subsequent tasks, who-is-who and chronological planning were informed at this point to our customer.
  • Customer’s IT department: VSC discussed the implementation process with the IT department, to understand whether it was necessary to involve their ERP/TMS provider. Also, to request all needed info to begin the implementation process.
  • VSC’s external tech partners: VSC provided all available info from previous research at the customer’s processes to the external tech partners, including all the guidelines, subsequent tasks, stakeholders and chronological planning so they could execute the first implementation phase.

From this point on, the external partners initiated direct communication with all relevant internal stakeholders for the initial implementation phase.

 

Orchestration with Customer’s External Suppliers:

 VSC built a bridge of communications with external suppliers, as per the following:

  • Customer’s ERP provider: VSC conveyed all communications and project requirements to the main ERP provider so our external tech partners can have all necessary info and requirements.
  • Customer’s LSP, carriers, truckers, other service providers: VSC designed a roadmap to gradually contact external providers and introduce the new tech partners and project.

From this point on, the external partners took a leadership role in communication with the specific external stakeholders to continue the implementation phase.

VSC, in a supporting role, guided parties to harmonize communications between supply chain professionals and tech engineers, who often had doubts concerning the meaning of certain procedures, wording, legal aspects and responsibilities. Regular meetings and video calls were needed at this phase, more than previous ones.

 

Integration of Supply Chain Network:

Once internal stakeholders at our customer’s were aligned, fully integrated and communications and operations processes were clear; and, once all relevant logistics service providers were integrated into our customer’s IT systems, a comprehensive integration scheme was executed with tech partners, leaded by VSC.

This segment included a trial and error phase, as different technologies and systems were aligning and engineers readapted processes for silos to be reduced. On top of whitepapers and guidelines delivered to users, some additional practical training was performed, as internal stakeholders needed to adapt to the new procedures that were put in place.

 

Collaborative Dashboard & E-docs Archives

The front-end result of previous phases was finally available with the creation of a comprehensive Dashboard and e-docs archives.

Control of tasks, planning, cargo visibility,  real-time KPI’s, communications exchange and secured e-docs were customized per user to smooth operations and avoid mistakes and unforeseen costs.

 

Quality Assurance and Audit:

In a combined strategy between VUSE Supply Chain and tech partners,  review meetings  were scheduled in reasonable timeframes (6 & 12 months from the end of the final phase), to evaluate the implementation strategy and detect new opportunities for improvement.

Several operations and systems bugs were corrected and optimization (in terms of capabilities at some Business Units at our customer’s premises) were redesigned.

The final result? Many users in several countries were operating in a standardized manner with the following major changes in the initial evaluation period:

  • Email communications were reduced at a -60% rate.
  • Unforeseen costs of demurrages and delays (that represented around 8% of total logistics costs) were almost eliminated or forecastable.
  • Customer service surveys revealed improvements in terms of visibility for final receivers.
  • With fresh Structure Data, advanced analytics from shipments generated precise plans of warehouse’s labour shifts and shipping forecasts for LSP and carriers which reduced unforeseen transport costs.
  • Improvement in pricing and go-to-market scheme that resulted in higher profits.

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