Supply Chain Metrics That Matter: Driving Reliability in Margins

Version 4

    Published By Lora Cecere and Abby Mayer, Supply Chain Insights LLC, 01/06/2013.

    Using Financial Data from Corporate Annual Reports to Better Understand Supply Chain Progress in Improving Operating Margin

    Executive Overview

    Supply chain management practices are thirty years old. Over the last decade, companies have invested in technology projects to improve financial outcomes (Technology investments over this period have averaged 1.7% of revenue). The ultimate goal was to reduce costs and improve inventory management. While many supply chain leaders believe that they delivered on these metrics, we find a less persuasive story. Through analysis of publically available balance sheet and income statement data, we find that 75% of companies in process industries lost ground on margins and only 5% of companies improved their positions on the number of days of inventory. The goal of this report is to answer the question “Why?” (For more on inventory and the Cash-to-Cash Cycle, see Supply Chain Metrics That Matter: The Cash-to-Cash Cycle.)


    To begin our analysis, we wanted to understand the general trends. In table 1, we share the differences in average values for the companies profiled in this report by industry for the period of 2000-2011. In general, we see a decline in operating margins (OM). There is an increase in selling, general & administrative Costs (SG&A) and revenue per employee performance. The industries have mixed results on return on assets (ROA).

    • Report Details: This report is based on analysis of financial balance sheet and income statement data for the period of 2000-2012 and interactions with clients in various process industries in supply chain strategy engagements.
    • Hypothesis: Operating margin and return on assets are not as strongly linked as they were in the 1990s. Increasing commodity price pressure as well as complexity in operating environments is creating a more challenging situation for process manufacturers.