SCALA: achieving supply chain synergy following mergers & acquisitions
John Perry, managing director at SCALA, a leading provider of management services for the supply chain and logistics sector, discusses the best strategies that companies can adopt when attempting to achieve synergy between their supply chains.
It was recently announced that UK-based food delivery company Just Eat has agreed an £8.2bn deal in principle to combine with Dutch rival Takeaway.com, to form one of the world's largest food delivery firms.
Growing a business through a strategic merger (or acquisition) in this way offers a host of potential organisational benefits. A carefully considered merger presents businesses with the opportunity to enjoy economies of scale, penetrate new markets, access a wider customer based, reduce costs and overheads, and decrease competition.
However, while there can be many significant advantages to such deals, it is thought that up to 90% of mergers and acquisitions ultimately fail. There are many factors that can contribute to this, including a lack of clarity in the integration process, a mismatch in culture, poor communication and negotiation errors.
Another top contributor to this shortfall is arguably a failure to properly consider the synergies and redundancies of the end-to-end supply chain of both companies. How the combined entity optimises its supply chain can make the difference between achieving the deal's desired benefits and, potentially, its failure.
When a merger or acquisition takes place, executives are tasked with the challenge of integrating the best of both legacy organisations, while keeping the business operational and delivering synergies in the supply chain. Unfortunately, this is often extremely difficult, with supply chain professionals needing to navigate inherent post-close complexities in order to fully deliver those synergies and achieve anticipated deal value.
So, what can be done to reduce the risk, and ensure that two separate supply chains will successfully merge into one competitive advantage?
Planning ahead: don’t leave anything to chance
When supply chains are not properly integrated, it can result in products being delayed to market, a decline in customer service levels, and/or heightened security and compliance risks.
In order to prevent this from happening, and instead deliver the savings and drive the increased profitability that the new entity is looking for, supply chain professionals should undertake supply chain and logistics network design assessments both pre and post-merger. In doing so they will be able to fully evaluate all of the possible network choices.
Supply chain network design entails highly experienced consultants using a range of digital modelling tools to simulate multiple scenarios, to predict the resulting operational performance of the merged organisations. This involves looking at everything from raw material supply through to customer delivery, taking into account sourcing and manufacturing locations, customer service and inventory levels, in order to clearly evaluate all possible network choices.
The network modelling tools are used to assess a variety of “what if” scenarios, demonstrating the effects of trade-offs between costs, service, stock, warehousing and transport. They can also be used to assess the impact of completely new, “greenfield” logistics options, compared with retaining some or all of the current facilities.
This significantly reduces the risks, by enabling visualisation, analysis and optimisation of current and future supply chains. With a clearer view of their supply chains, merging organisations can establish a plan that will allow them to achieve the business objectives of the deal.
Pre-merger, supply chain network modelling can help businesses to avoid making expensive mistakes, such as over-estimating the potential synergies. It also provides alternative M&A targets for comparison, as well as analysis of new market strategies.
Post-merger, modelling tools will also help to find short-term improvements that will cause limited disruption to customers. Meanwhile, supply chain professionals can also be analysing riskier changes that offer bigger potential rewards. They can also use the technology to create accurate projections of cost savings and efficiencies that can be reported to senior executives and the investors.
Mergers can present brilliant opportunities to establish an improved, more agile supply chain for the newly merged organisation. While mergers far from guarantee success, utilising supply chain modelling technology is an effective way of minimising the risks involved and ensuring the best possible synergy within the newly merged business.
NTT DATA Services, Remodelling Supply Chains for Resilience
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.
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.”