Gaining a Supply Chain Edge

The Secret to Sustaining Supply Chain Changes: Do it Right from the Beginning

"What's wrong? I'm not getting the results promised from this supply chain transformation." I can't tell you how many times I have heard this phrase in some form or another over the past few years.

Here's the secret to success -- change management done right and from the beginning through the life of a new supply chain process is the ONLY way to get the results promised from the transformation.

Managing change while simultaneously pursuing supply chain transformations is not only essential; it is also a very important step in achieving Supply Chain Excellence. But change management, if not accompanied by a rigorous process of sustaining change, is of very little value.

I am beyond frustration on this topic. Twice in the last six months, we have helped a client make substantial improvements to their supply chain only to have our proposal for sustaining these changes rejected and then the client returns to us three months later complaining that the changes implemented were not sustained. In one word, wow!

The fact is that most supply chain executives have greater demands upon their time then they have time, and if a process of sustaining the improvements is not installed to maintain supply chain enhancements, rarely will they stick. Once the supply chain executive jumps to the next project, if a sustainability process is not put in place the changes will often be relaxed and so too will the results.

In the two examples given above -- one was an inventory improvement and the other a transportation improvement -- in which for a very small investment (less then 10% of the full engagement) the sustainability effort was rejected. In both instances, we wrote to the supply chain executive and told him he was making a mistake.

As time has now proven, he did in fact make a mistake and now he wants us to come in and pursue the sustainability effort, when in fact what needs to be done has not become much broader then our sustainability effort. What is now needed is reinstallation of the changes. And, let me point out here that reinstallation of change is much more difficult then the installation of the change.

Very briefly, the four key components of sustaining supply chain change are:

1.Assure that all new people who become involved with the supply chain transformation receive training in the upgraded supply chain processes and buy into the need for change.

2.Assure that all people involved with the supply chain transformation are audited for process adherence and receive refresher training as necessary.

3.Track results, set an expectation of continuous improvement and monitor the progress.

4.Stay engaged with the transformation, as a sponsoring supply chain executive and an agent of change, and actively pursue process adherence and results consistent with expectations.

I'd be interested in hearing your experiences with change management. How do you ensure success with supply chain transformations?

Tompkins Associates

More Resources
Integrating Supply Chains from Business Combinations: Principles and Best Practices of Mergers and Acquisitions

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