Leading companies around the world have a powerful weapon in their arsenal: a supply chain that ensures products and services are delivered to customers whenever and wherever promised. According to research by PwC’s Performance Measurement Group (PMG), companies with high-performing supply chains not only outdo the competition on key operational metrics; they also perform better on key financial metrics, including annual sales growth, profitability, and asset turnover (Figure 1). These companies exhibit superior performance on five key supply chain metrics:

1. delivery against customer request date,

2. speed of response to changes in demand,

3. total supply chain management costs,

4. total inventory on hand,

5. cash-to-cash cycle time.

What are these companies doing that others aren’t? Needless to say, their supply chains are geared to maximize cost savings and working capital efficiency, but that’s mere table stakes in today’s challenging business environment. Our research reveals that, regardless of industry, exceptional companies demand more. They take counterintuitive approaches to the way they design, operate and improve their supply chains—approaches that help them develop new sources of competitive advantage and grow the top line.