Setting up for supply chain success

Date : 13 January 2020

I originally published this blog last year, but it's as relevant now as it was then. Take a look...

The start of each new year provides us with a fantastic opportunity to assess where we are and what we want to achieve in the year to come.

It’s a time for locking down objectives and plotting a course to deliver them. While much of the focus is on how to do bigger and better things, a good proportion of what we end up doing is likely to be a build on last year’s activities. As ever, there are many more things to do than we have time to achieve, so making an impact in the right places is crucial. The natural tension between what we need to do – the basics – and what we want to do – the value-adds – at either end of the spectrum, can make the process of objective-setting a real challenge.

Bring the outside in

Perhaps the best place to start is with horizon scanning. We've recently published our supply chain trends for 2020 - a must-read for anyone in a supply chain role. The IGD Futures series is another great resource. If you're interested in seeing the food and grocery industry through a different lens, these brief reports are a great, free resource to support you. From shoppers to online and physical retail, and digital retails models to the supply chains that serve the industry, we've got it covered. 

We've also published the results of our supply chain leaders survey. This influential group of 100 leaders from around the world shared their thoughts on current and future supply challenges and opportunities. Using their insight, we put forward five attributes people working in supply chain will need to succeed in our fast-changing industry. Take a look - can you afford not to?

Assess your own development needs

Understanding where the industry is heading allows you to assess how well equipped you are to influence and impact the future. An assessment of strengths and weaknesses through a gap analysis, and using it as the foundation to do the ordinary extraordinarily well, will set you up for success.

Getting the basics right is a base expectation. Doing so develops trust and a platform for deeper partnerships. Through our supply chain fundamentals series, we’ve developed a suite of reports designed to support supply chain knowledge building. From responsiveness to distribution and S&OP to customer centricity and lots in between, we’ve got it covered.

Identify the big opportunities

At the other end of the spectrum lie the real value-adding opportunities. Having established a foundation, this is where the industry leaders will focus their efforts. Supply chain people need to be an engine for value creation, helping deliver growth through:

  • Reinventing services providing more choice, better experiences or greater convenience
  • Premiumising products, for instance, with local, ethical or sustainable credentials
  • Connecting more precisely to personal needs and lifestyles
  • Rethinking ways of working to continually reduce costs and waste

Engage to unlock value

Once you’ve set your course, the next step is to engage. Relationships and the ability to work effectively with people have a disproportionate impact on our success. We've looked at what makes a successful business relationship and what gets in the way. Transparency and trust, information flow, a joint problem solving and learning mindset, and shared objectives were all identified as enablers of productive internal and external relationships. Time is the biggest barrier, and accurately determining where potential can be transformed into tangible value for both parties is the name of the game.

To help you get the most from your efforts, we also looked at the state of collaboration in our industry, exploring areas of strength and weakness for you to exploit or address. These reports will help you move your collaborative capability to the next level.

What next?

Action! I’ve provided my perspective on some of the key inputs for effective objective setting and provided some resources to help support you in creating them. Take a look at some of the materials I’ve highlighted – I hope you find them useful.

Remember to:

  1. Bring the outside in – how is the landscape evolving? Where do you fit in? What will you need to do to succeed?
  2. Assess your own development needs – build your knowledge by performing a gap analysis
  3. Identify the big opportunities – set objectives that stretch and challenge you to self-disrupt, focussing on value creation and growth
  4. Engage to unlock value – commit and embed through joint objectives

Chris Irish

Chris Irish

Head of Insight - Supply Chain

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