Hi, my name is Brandon Evans. The past 8 years of my life have been spent as an SAP Supply Chain consultant – interacting with a variety of itelligence SAP clients across Process Manufacturing, Consumer Packaged Goods (food and durable) and Wholesale Distribution industries. In addition to my background in SAP technology, I am a Certified APICS CPIM professional focused in all aspects of the supply chain.
One of my interests over the past few years has been to investigate and try to understand what consumers are requiring from their producers and how the producers need to innovate to stay in front of their competition and satisfy customers. Big task, and still in process; may never be done.
Reliably competitive differentiation always comes back to supply chain performance. The ability for a company to exceed its competition and get the customer sale are rooted in how different they are from their competition; some general examples of these drivers include delivery speed, delivery reliability, and lower cost of goods sold. In order to capitalize on competitive differentiation, companies typically execute a competitive sales strategy to gain revenue and market share. Most producers or service companies fall within a few categories:
- Being a Low Cost provider – use manufacturing efficiency, sound IT and Supply Chain capability that lowers inventory investments.
- Having Broad Differentiation – ability to manage and market its products to a broad base of customers – product attributes, service, image. An example – having a strategic capability to uniquely manufacture and distribute that protects the product’s value or cost to the marketplace.
- Being the Best Cost Provider – use of the supply chain and technology to manufacture products that are better than the cheapest market option, and sometimes as good as the high-cost alternatives. Pricing is generally significantly below higher priced alternatives.
- Being a Focused Low-Cost Provider – use of manufacturing and technology excellence to produce high volume, low cost items to underprice the competition. Companies are required to reconfigure their value chain to drive costs and business processes to run optimally and with high utilization.
- Having Focused Differentiation – offers wide range of products with custom features available to their customer base. These producers focus on their ability to be flexible for the customer and to use their manufacturing and IT tools to do so at a competitive cost.
Now that we have the theory and my personal inquisitiveness out the way, let’s talk about the core theme of this Supply Chain blog series. Throughout the years, I’ve had the opportunity to speak and discuss with many of our customers who serve as Supply Chain Leads, Plant Managers, Operations Managers and Demand Planning Directors. In all of those conversations, each company has been running a Tier 1 ERP package, SAP. Yet, almost uniformly, they all have the same gripes — some valid, others not totally:
- “SAP doesn’t provide the necessary functions out of the box.”
- “Our team members are performing manual work in spreadsheets.”
- “We need a more simple way to keep pace with the innovation coming from our engineers and manufacturing design teams.”
- “Our ability to manufacture and produce with new machinery is accelerating but our ability to record, report, statistically model and visualize our supply chain data is too poor.”
Our goal for this blog series is to highlight a few challenges that today’s plant and operations managers have – pressure from the business to deliver needed differentiation and pressure for IT to support these objectives with technology. Our aim is to educate today’s leaders about advanced tools that are available in the SAP marketplace and how they help digitize the supply chain, as well as to offer some alternative low cost, low-risk rapid software products.
The areas of the supply chain we will cover include:
- Demand Planning and Forecasting
- Inventory Control & Inventory Cost Reduction
- Production Planning & Execution
- Supply Chain Master Data Governance and Management
- Shopfloor Automation – Machine and ERP Integration (IoT)
- Transportation Planning and Freight Rating
- Business Partner Supply Chain Integration (Customer and Supplier)
If there are future topics that you are interested in, please leave comments in the blog and we can address those following the main series.
To get the conversation started, download our infographic to learn more about itelligence solutions that can help your company optimize supply chain processes to run smoothly and efficiently.