May 17, 2020

Bain & Company Supply Chain: reinventing your supply chain

Supply Chain
Sean Galea-Pace
3 min
Supply Chain Digital takes a closer look at Bain & Company’s ‘Supply Chain Reinvention’ strategy.

Bain & Company’s team of supply chain...

Supply Chain Digital takes a closer look at Bain & Company’s ‘Supply Chain Reinvention’ strategy. 

Bain & Company’s team of supply chain experts has tackled difficult supply chain challenges and has produced considerable value for clients. Bain Supply Chain Reinvention is designed to:

Accelerate revenue growth - This is done by increasing the ability to efficiently meet changes in market demand and expand output through enhancing operations from end-to-end.

Boost customer satisfaction and advocacy - Through using feedback loops to improve customer collaboration and due to the elimination of operational silos, your perfect order rate.

Unlock savings and cash flow - By decreasing manufacturing and logistics costs, outsourcing low value-add activities and optimising safety stock levels to improve inventory turns.

Minimise risk and increase reliability - By enhancing forecast accuracy with more efficient and complex tools and data, as well as reducing disruptions by creating buffers within your network.


Companies often find themselves restrained by a complex manufacturing network. Assets, spin-offs and siloed investments are a common cause, as well as a tendency to create expensive new plants to meet demand for a high-margin product. Bain and Company believes there are four key digital shapes that define the future of the supply chain industry:

End-to-end visibility and collaboration - Organisations are investing in control tower platforms to empower companies to optimise their supply chain network by offering streamlined, real-time visibility and promoting informed decision-making.

Intelligent supply chains - Advanced research and development management, planning strategies as well as forecasting capabilities are integrated like never before.

Smart automation - Characterised by a step-function acceleration of operational processes, enhanced flexibility and customisability. 

Next-gen employees - A range of new tools and technologies will allow employees to enhance their skills and notably achieve higher levels of productivity. 

But, how do you reinvent your supply chain? Bain has provided an insight into how some supply chain leaders have moved forward toward harnessing a long-term vision:

  1. The work begins with a targeted, fact-based assessment of the current supply chain, in order to work out how it meets current and future strategic priorities.

  2. The company then creates an unconstrained view of the potential of supply chain performance and develops a “what if” model.

  3. The next stage is the development of high-potential scenarios that vary across risk and benefits profiles, both complimented by a set of quantitative and qualitative evaluation criteria. 

  4. Develop an integrated set of specific end-to-end initiatives required to deliver the scenarios and the organisational model.

  5. Organisations then make choices that align with the top one or two scenarios.

  6. Finally, the company then makes an in-depth supply chain reinvention roadmap, and mobilises around a set of discrete and executable projects, completed with timing and resource estimates.

In 2018, Bain and Bosch collaborated to develop a new Europe-based plant that will serve as an industry 4.0 benchmark. The new plant combined the latest industry 4.0 technologies for both mechanical processing and assembly, the two main production processes in engine manufacturing. Bain and Bosch Connected Industry helped clients to compile, structure and evaluate relevant digital technologies and to identify areas where such technologies can be applied. The results of the partnership saw significant efficiency gains of 15-20% through digitalisation, stemming from digital energy management. There was a higher output and increased flexibility with regard to product variants and next-generation products due to workpiece-controlled manufacturing. There was also improved product quality due to faster error detection through new camera systems, advanced data analytics applications as well as other digital capabilities. 

For more information about Bain’s Supply Chain Reinvention strategy, click here!

For more information on procurement, supply chain and logistics topics - please take a look at the latest edition of Supply Chain Digital magazine.

Follow us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Share article

Jun 11, 2021

NTT DATA Services, Remodelling Supply Chains for Resilience

6 min
Joey Dean, Managing Director of healthcare consulting at NTT DATA Services, shares remodelling strategies for more resilient supply chains

Joey Dean, the man with the coolest name ever and Managing Director in the healthcare consulting practice for NTT DATA and is focused on delivering workplace transformation and enabling the future workforce for healthcare providers. Dean also leads client innovation programs to enhance service delivery and business outcomes for clients.

The pandemic has shifted priorities and created opportunities to do things differently, and companies are now looking to build more resilient supply chains, none needed more urgently than those within the healthcare system. Dean shares with us how he feels they can get there.

A Multi-Vendor Sourcing Approach

“Healthcare systems cannot afford delays in the supply chain when there are lives at stake. Healthcare procurement teams are looking at multi-vendor sourcing strategies, stockpiling more inventory, and ways to use data and AI to have a predictive view into the future and drive greater efficiency.

“The priority should be to shore up procurement channels and re-evaluate inventory management norms, i.e. stockpiling for assurance. Health systems should take the opportunity to renegotiate with their current vendors and broaden the supplier channel. Through those efforts, work with suppliers that have greater geographic diversity and transparency around manufacturing data, process, and continuity plans,” says Dean.

But here ensues the never-ending battle of domestic vs global supply chains. As I see it, domestic sourcing limits the high-risk exposure related to offshore sourcing— Canada’s issue with importing the vaccine is a good example of that. So, of course, I had to ask, for lifesaving products, is building domestic capabilities an option that is being considered?

“Domestic supply chains are sparse or have a high dependence on overseas centres for parts and raw materials. There are measures being discussed from a legislative perspective to drive more domestic sourcing, and there will need to be a concerted effort by Western countries through a mix of investments and financial incentives,” Dean explains.

Wielding Big Tech for Better Outcomes

So, that’s a long way off. In the meantime, leveraging technology is another way to mitigate the risks that lie within global supply chains while decreasing costs and improving quality. Dean expands on the potential of blockchain and AI in the industry

“Blockchain is particularly interesting in creating more transparency and visibility across all supply chain activities. Organisations can create a decentralised record of all transactions to track assets from production to delivery or use by end-user. This increased supply chain transparency provides more visibility to both buyers and suppliers to resolve disputes and build more trusting relationships. Another benefit is that the validation of data is more efficient to prioritise time on the delivery of goods and services to reduce cost and improve quality. 

“Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning (AI/ML) is another area where there’s incredible value in processing massive amounts of data to aggregate and normalise the data to produce proactive recommendations on actions to improve the speed and cost-efficiency of the supply chain.”

Evolving Procurement Models 

From asking more of suppliers to beefing up stocks, Dean believes procurement models should be remodelled to favour resilience, mitigate risk and ensure the needs of the customer are kept in view. 

“The bottom line is that healthcare systems are expecting more from their suppliers. While transactional approaches focused solely on price and transactions have been the norm, collaborative relationships, where the buyer and supplier establish mutual objectives and outcomes, drives a trusting and transparent relationship. Healthcare systems are also looking to multi-vendor strategies to mitigate risk, so it is imperative for suppliers to stand out and embrace evolving procurement models.

“Healthcare systems are looking at partners that can establish domestic centres for supplies to mitigate the risks of having ‘all of their eggs’ in overseas locations. Suppliers should look to perform a strategic evaluation review that includes a distribution network analysis and distribution footprint review to understand cost, service, flexibility, and risks. Included in that strategy should be a “voice of the customer” assessment to understand current pain points and needs of customers.”

“Healthcare supply chain leaders are re-evaluating the Just In Time (JIT) model with supplies delivered on a regular basis. The approach does not require an investment in infrastructure but leaves organisations open to risk of disruption. Having domestic centres and warehousing from suppliers gives healthcare systems the ability to have inventory on hand without having to invest in their own infrastructure. Also, in the spirit of transparency, having predictive views into inventory levels can help enable better decision making from both sides.”

But, again, I had to ask, what about the risks and associated costs that come with higher inventory levels, such as expired product if there isn’t fast enough turnover, tying up cash flow, warehousing and inventory management costs?

“In the current supply chain environment, it is advisable for buyers to carry an in-house inventory on a just-in-time basis, while suppliers take a just-in-case approach, preserving capacity for surges, retaining safety stock, and building rapid replenishment channels for restock. But the risk of expired product is very real. This could be curbed with better data intelligence and improved technology that could forecast surges and predictively automate future supply needs. In this way, ordering would be more data-driven and rationalised to align with anticipated surges. Further adoption of data and intelligence and will be crucial for modernised buying in the new normal.

The Challenges

These are tough tasks, so I asked Dean to speak to some of the challenges. Luckily, he’s a patient guy with a lot to say.

On managing stakeholders and ensuring alignment on priorities and objectives, Dean says, “In order for managing stakeholders to stay aligned on priorities, they’ll need more transparency and collaborative win-win business relationships in which both healthcare systems and medical device manufacturers are equally committed to each other’s success. On the healthcare side, they need to understand where parts and products are manufactured to perform more predictive data and analytics for forecasting and planning efforts. And the manufacturers should offer more data transparency which will result in better planning and forecasting to navigate the ebbs and flows and enable better decision-making by healthcare systems.

Due to the sensitive nature of the information being requested, the effort to increase visibility is typically met with a lot of reluctance and push back. Dean essentially puts the onus back on suppliers to get with the times. “Traditionally, the relationships between buyers and suppliers are transactional, based only on the transaction between the two parties: what is the supplier providing, at what cost, and for what length of time. The relationship begins and ends there. The tide is shifting, and buyers expect more from their suppliers, especially given what the pandemic exposed around the fragility of the supply chain. The suppliers that get ahead of this will not only reap the benefits of improved relationships, but they will be able to take action on insights derived from greater visibility to manage risks more effectively.”

He offers a final tip. “A first step in enabling a supply chain data exchange is to make sure partners and buyers are aware of the conditions throughout the supply chain based on real-time data to enable predictive views into delays and disruptions. With well understand data sets, both parties can respond more effectively and work together when disruptions occur.”

As for where supply chain is heading, Dean says, “Moving forward, we’ll continue to see a shift toward Robotic Process Automation (RPA), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and advanced analytics to optimise the supply chain. The pandemic, as it has done in many other industries, will accelerate the move to digital, with the benefits of improving efficiency, visibility, and error rate. AI can consume enormous amounts of data to drive real-time pattern detection and mitigate risk from global disruptive events.”


Share article