In enlightening (video) interviews by Supply Chain Brain’s Bob Bowman, François Martin-Festa, Supply Chain Global Planning VP at Schneider Electric, and Zoltan Pekar, VP for Global Supply Chain Division at Roland DG Corporation, talked about the greatest challenges they faced in moving their supply chains toward significant improvement.

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In Part 1, we discussed François Martin-Festa’s biggest challenges at Schneider Electric. In this article, we will see the biggest challenge faced by Zoltan Pekar and his supply chain team a Roland DG Corporation.

 

Becoming truly customer-centric

 

In the interview, Pekar told Bob Bowman that Roland DG’s “biggest challenge… is meeting the customer demand with flexibility at the manufacturing sites—becoming truly customer-centric.” [Emphasis added.] That “is what we are trying to achieve,” Pekar added.

 

Trying to rebuild your supply chain in a way that moves an enterprise from an inside-out management approach to one that is decidedly outside-in means a paradigm shift. The former sacred cow of “push and promote” methods have to be sacrificed.

 

Pekar made it very clear that Roland DG is “moving away from a structure whereby we manufacture and [then] push out to the market through our subsidiaries….” In place of that mentality, he adds, “we actually want to join everyone together as one big global organization, providing a full value change, and connecting the complete supply chain from end-to-end—from manufacturing to the customers.”

 

While Pekar did not reveal the precise theory and methods he and his team were adopting as they made this change, it is clear by the language employed that they, too, had discovered what has been called the first law of manufacturing:

 

All benefits will be directly related to the speed of flow of materials and information.

 

And the extension of that law, which reads:

 

All benefits will be directly related to the speed of flow of relevant materials and relevant information.*

 

By “connecting the complete supply chain from end-to-end,” the flow of relevant information (actual customer demand), not the largely irrelevant information of inaccurate forecasts, can become the real driver in the flow of relevant materials.

 

By definition, by the way, connecting the supply chain end-to-end and accelerating the flow of materials based on actual customer demand is the very essence of the other point Pekar made: “[B]ecoming truly customer-centric… is what we are trying to achieve.”

 

There is lots of lip-service given these days to becoming “customer-centric.” But, becoming truly customer-centric means working tirelessly toward the goal of connecting the flow of relevant information and relevant materials from one end of your supply chain to the other. Demand-driven planning is a relatively new field of learning and technologies. There are tools and people available to help even small to mid-sized firms become demand-driven quickly and at relatively low investment.

 

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[*] Ptak, Carol A., Chad Smith, and Joseph Orlicky. Orlicky's Material Requirements Planning. Third ed. New York: McGraw-Hill

 

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Tell us how do you approach supply chain strategy and tactics? Please leave your comments below. Thank you.

 

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