COVID-19 has had a massive effect on the very idea of supply chain efficiency, leaving behind a trail of expected and unexpected issues in its wake, such as production slowdowns, empty shelves due to panic buying, and an empty fleet of carriers. For the first time in decades, the global demand and supply are not on par. Adding to the disruption are a number of buyers who have started employing force majeure at unprecedented levels.
Supply chain leaders are left with the unique challenge of managing the ongoing crisis as well as planning for possible outcomes in the future. There are several unanswered questions such as where should inventory be stockpiled to account for potential drawdowns? Which orders should be prioritized when inventories are low? How can we predict and account for a slump across the network?
Infosys Consulting can assist supply chain leaders in addressing supply chain orchestration issues of today and tomorrow through supply chain intelligence, by deploying a control tower.
What is a supply chain control tower?
The supply chain control tower (SCCT) is a capability that has evolved exponentially over the last decade. It integrates supply chain planning, order, transportation, and inventory management which are interdependent. By aligning these areas of SCM into a focal decision-making point, SCCT becomes a powerful tool to control your supply chain operations from end to end. Organizations could have benefitted greatly from SCCT even before the disruption of global supply chains due to the pandemic.
An Agile Approach to Implementation.
SCCTs are complex solutions to deploy and because of this, we recommend an agile approach to implementation.
For beginners, visibility is the first step to an effective SCCT. The aim of this step is to enable supply chain managers to have a 360° view of the entire supply chain, particularly of internal inventory and shipping assets. The information so collected can be used for sound decision-making by managers.
Once you’ve gained buy-in for your SCCT, the focus should shift to uncovering insights that match the needs of your organization. These insights should expand the functionality, timeliness, or breadth of view—and may present strong use cases for predictive and prescriptive analytics. Lean on prioritization to build one key feature at a time and progressively build on successful releases to avoid scope creep and burnout.
At the mature stages of your SCCT roadmap, advanced capabilities are at your disposal. Leverage data from sensors and IoT devices for granular visibility and prediction. Monitor the inventory levels of the suppliers to create robust contingency plans. Develop features that employ machine learning and automation to increase the productivity of your supply chain team.
A great example is the response of the Navy and Marine Corps to the COVID-19 crisis. As part of their naval supply systems command, they piloted a solution that showed an end-to-end view of inventory levels in their supply chain for high priority parts. Additionally, this tool helped them to resolve issues with performance and delivery. Although this solution is in its early stages, they have plans to employ advanced capabilities for more sophisticated scenario planning.
Regardless of where you’re at in your journey, a SCCT can provide significant value.
If you have recognized the need for a SCCT (or are rethinking how you want to deploy the one you already have), keep these three factors in mind. These are key to the control tower approach we foster for supply chain intelligence at Infosys Consulting. If you enable these capabilities, you will ensure that your business is positioned well for the rough seas ahead—and can thrive when the storm begins to fade into the distance.
Senior Consultant, Infosys Consulting
James Mason is a senior consultant in our Supply Chain Management practice and is based out of our Atlanta office. He has over 7 years of consulting experience, delivering and leading projects in operational strategy and data & analytics, spanning various industries including: CPG, retail, manufacturing, financial services, life sciences, and media/communications. James holds an MBA in strategy consulting and marketing analytics from Emory Goizueta Business School and a Bachelors in industrial & systems engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology
Associate Partner, Infosys Consulting
Sylvie is a passionate and results-oriented supply chain executive. Her experience with supply chain start-ups has demonstrated to her that supply chain professionals must question the status quo in order to deliver next-generation solutions. She is a believer in hands-on experimentation in order to deliver maximum results. Sylvie has developed and implemented numerous supply chain transformation initiatives for her clients and has extensive experience working with leading retailers and consumer brand owners. A supporter of lifelong learning, she continues to seek out fresh and innovative new ideas and insights through a network of supply change thought leaders. She is also giving back to the field as a guest lecturer at the University of Maryland.