(thanks to Ragulin Vitaliy for the image)
Unless you're very lucky and happen to be with an organization that has both a Chief Supply Chain Officer and an intense focus on Supply Chain Management as a discipline across the entire value chain, you very likely have silos at your organization (in fact, even if you are blessed to be at such an organization you may still have silos). These silos impact Supply Chain Managers in many ways - the challenge of gathering data existing within multiple functional areas, the inability to gain the sponsorship from executives necessary for Supply Chain improvements that cross multiple business units, and the authority to enact changes necessary for Supply Chain improvements, to name just a few.
At the Aberdeen Supply Chain Management Summit this past week attendees heard several compelling stories of Supply Chain Managers had tremendous positive impacts on their organizations:
Brad Mueller, Vice President of Supply Chain at Briggs Healthcare, spoke about the transformation he led at Briggs where he turned a Supply Chain in disarray into a high performing one. That he did it with limited resources and investment is even more remarkable.
Masao Nishi, Vice President of Supply Chain Management at SYSCO, presented on the Inbound Transportation initiative at SYSCO, a multi-year effort that received strong executive support and yielded a substantial return. His leadership was so intuitive that he didn't even present a business case for the Inbound program - they just gave him the authority he needed to make the change (which is paying off nicely for SYSCO).
Jill Marcotte, CSCO of Dealer Tire, presented a compelling story of Supply Chain Transformation and explained why Supply Chain should have a seat in the C-suite (when I asked her about the power of having a seat at the table she responded that it's important for Supply Chain to have that level of authority but it's just as important for Supply Chain to be part of the strategy discussion so they can prepare for and influence the future of the organization). And thanks for educating the audience about the complexity of the Tire Supply Chain - I'll never look at tires the same way again!
Typically, a supply chain is performing at it's best not when each silo is optimized but when the total sum of all the silos is optimized - that's why it's so important to break down these silos, At least one silo will need to be suboptimized for the entire supply chain to be optimal.
It is unlikely you will unilaterally be able to make meaningful changes to the leadership structure of your organization but there are still ways to make progress, and it's imperative that our organizations make continual progress in improving their supply chain.
How have you achieved success at breaking down the silos at your organization? Has it led to significant benefits? Please post in the comments below to continue the conversation.