How to Get the Most From Supply Chain Consultancies

How to Get the Most From Supply Chain Consultancies
With Many Change-Projects Doomed to Fail, We Explore How Firms Can Buck This Trend by Getting the Most From Supply Chain Consultancy Services

Pre-pandemic, the supply chain was viewed by most organisations as a cost centre-based function, and was largely invisible unless things went wrong. That was before things began going wrong all of the time. Now, businesses have come to understand that uncertainty and disruption – as well as the ceaseless drive towards sustainability – means supply chains must be transparent and agile, efficient, secure and ethical. 

Accordingly, technology is introducing ever-more innovative tools and solutions that are revolutionising planning cycles and day-to-day decision-making in supply chain. Digital transformation is no longer a buzz phrase – something only for those companies in the tech vanguard to pursue. 

In today’s uncertain world, change is the status quo, and change is the only way organisations can expect to survive, let alone thrive.  

Yet according to Deloitte 70% of digital transformation projects result in failure, and even when organisations do succeed it can take them years before they are ready to compete in the digital market. 

Sometimes the failure can be because there is a mismatch between tech initiatives and business goals.

This is why supply chain analysts say it is vital that organisations identify the supply chain challenges and pain points they want to tackle, and then involve stakeholders from various departments in the digital transformation process, in order to increase efficiency. 

It is also why supply chain consultants urge client companies to set standards and principles regarding how they will collect, manage, and analyse information if they want their digital transformation initiatives to be a success.

These are prerequisites for transformation projects in supply chain. Such across-the-board change can never be one-size-fits-all. The insight and guidance required has to be tailored to the business in question.

A recent study from GEP throws light on another problem area for transformation projects in supply chain: divergence of priorities between departments. 

The paper – Supply Chain Convergence in a Disruptive Environment – suggests that years of disruption and cost inflation has driven a wedge between supply chain and procurement professionals. While procurement executives rank their first priority as reducing costs, supply chain executives say ensuring on-time delivery of supply is key. 

Of the supply chain executives surveyed by GEP, 59% cite the gap between procurement and supply chain as the single most damaging issue for productivity and the optimisation of supply chains.

Tech imbalances and departmental divergency are just two problem areas when it comes to enterprise-wide change projects. This is why professional services companies offer fact-based, actionable supply chain insights that meet the very particular needs of any given company. 

Organisations such as McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group offer consultancy services across all aspects of business management, including supply chain. Then there are tech companies, such as Microsoft and IBM, who offer consultancy solutions drawn from marrying deep technical expertise with business change programmes.

Other consultancies are supply chain specialists. GEP, for example, is a leading global provider of consulting, outsourcing and technology solutions to procurement and supply chains at market-leading enterprises.

So how, exactly, can an organisation get the most from a consultancy service? Is there an optimal way that they can work with consultancies to arrive at the solutions they need, or a best-practise approach to implementation?

Paul Blake is Senior Director of Engagement at GEP. Blake has been with the company for 10 years, and in that time he has seen many changes in supply chain operations.

“Supply chain operations today are more complex than ever before,” he says, speaking in an interview on GEP’s YouTube channel. “Transparency and collaboration are really key to getting supply chains on the right footing for a more vulnerable, uncertain, and unclear future.” 

When it comes to getting the most from consultancy-led transformation projects – especially around sustainability – Blake’s advice to organisations is to “make small changes that all add up towards meeting important sustainability commitments”. 

He continues: “The way in which we approach working on this with customers is multifaceted. The first thing we need to do is help them set a baseline and set the goals.” 

Blake says that GEP’s consulting practice works with customers to define what a 21st century modern supply chain should look like “in terms of the connections between the participants, the visibility across the end-to-end operation”. 

He says that, within this framework, once a baseline has been set, the change project becomes about “trying to develop the means to gain the insights that an organisation needs into what is going on in an increasingly complex supply chain”.

He adds: “But it’s also about providing the technology platform that gives an  organisation the means to have that command and control over the system. It's fundamentally about data.”

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