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Never has so much computer hardware and software been applied to improving supply chain performance. Integrated, focused forecasting allows companies to capture the customer's voice and ERP systems let all stages of the supply chain hear the voice and react to it by using flexible manufacturing, automated warehousing, and point-of-use logistics.  

Nonetheless, performance of many supply chains have been marginal. Getting the right parts to the right place in the right quantity at the right time, and at the right cost is still a major challenge for most businesses. 

If your company needs help with its supply chain performance, don't miss out on reading  this week's article, "The Value-added Supply Chain." It appears below the line.

Have a nice day, and stay connected.

Bill Gaw

P.S. Don't miss August's Special MBBP Subscribers offer at the bottom of the article.

Business Basics, LLC
6003 Dassia Way
Oceanside, CA 92056 

The Value-added Supply Chain

The days of vertically integrated companies reaping the benefits of their size has all but come to an end. They proved to be too slow, too complicated and too isolated from what the outside world was up to. 

Most historians agree that the development of cheap, centralized power and efficient but costly production machinery tipped the competitive advantage toward large companies that could achieve economies of scale.

Partnerships and Small Companies

Today, however, low-cost computing and communication have tipped the competitive advantage back toward partnerships of smaller companies, each of which performs as a key supplier in a value-added supply chain and coordinates its activities with the rest of the chain. 

Value-added supply chains are not, however, necessarily technology driven. They may emerge as the result of computerized links between companies or they may exist before the technical links have been made. In all cases, they depend largely on the attitudes and practices of the participation managers. Computers simply make it easier to communicate, share information, and respond quickly to shifts in demand. They facilitate the value-added supply chain but alone don't create them.  

What makes a value-added supply chain is the understanding that each player in the supply chain has a stake in the others' success. Leaders see the entire supply chain not just one part of it --- as one competitive unit. It is this awareness that allows business's leaders to look for opportunities beyond their own corporate boundaries. They looked for ways the resources at one part of the supply chain could be used in another. And their efforts to be competitive went beyond cost cutting. Many companies focus on trimming cost to increase profits, and they consider opportunities only within the unit defined by ownership.   

This ability to see beyond cooperate boundaries has another important advantage. It permits recognition of serious threats that lie elsewhere along the supply chain. Because successful companies know their own fate depends on that of its suppliers and customers, these companies monitor competitive dynamics throughout the chain and try to fix weaknesses whenever they occur. When all the partners are strong, the entire value-added supply chain can stand up to the toughest of competitors, integrated or not.  

Supplier Focus

In a value-added supply chain, each supplier focuses on doing just one step of the value-added supply chain. Therefore, each unit can tailor all aspects of the organization to this single task. This sense of focus translates into low overhead, lean staffs, and few middle managers. Decisions are made and executed quickly, so response time is short. Creative ideas are less likely to be suppressed, and more employees are exposed to the demands of the market. The fact that each company in the supply chain is free to be different from the other creates a diversity that can be the seedbed of innovation. And marketing orientation becomes neither an edict nor a difficult task. It follows naturally from the free flow of information throughout the supply chain to so many of the people who actually do the work. 

What is the most important element of a successful value-added supply chain? In my opinion it is a company's ability to establish and effectively manage a group of key suppliers. If your company needs help in identifying, implementing and mastering supply chain best practices, take advantage of the this MBBP special for the month of August:

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Supply Chain Management, Back-to-Basics, Power-Point®-
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