Today's global supply chains have morphed into complex supply networks or webs where much, if not most, of the execution activity is outsourced to 3rd parties - whether related or not. The outsourcing activity includes everything from raw materials to finished product procurement, logistics services to customs and government agency interaction, to risk mitigation and financial transactions.
In a world that has become so global in trade activity it is virtually impossible for any organization to have core competency across its entire global trade environment. In many global organizations there are many divisions that operate autonomously from corporate further diluting the capability to develop core competencies across the organization.Outsourcing is a reality. Without question, outsourcing agents provide value to their customers through their professionalism, organizational capabilities, and global reach. Through the use of outsourcing, organizations are able to extend their reach far beyond their own capabilities and resources. However, along with outsourcing comes a loss of control and loss of visibility into activity. This is not new. Lack of visibility is recognized as the most significant supply chain challenge and most outsourcing agents have responded by providing their customers with access to portals or reports so that they, their customers, can access information they need to meet their business needs.Access to information from 3rd party providers has come a long way over the past few years and continues to evolve. Organizations have much greater access to their 3rd party partners information than ever before. But, even with this greater access to their supply information their are huge gaps in the information capabilities of their outsourced partners and their willingness or capability to share. Aggravating the situation is that many companies have complex relationships and there are so many outsourced agents across the supply and logistics network that getting a comprehensive, holistic view is not practical or possible. This means that assessing their efforts on your behalf is very time consuming if not unrealistic.This is the current state of global supply chain ownership for the vast majority of companies. Companies don't own their supply chain. They are renting execution capability and access to information. Does it have to be that way? The answer is an emphatic - NO.
So the first question is - what does it mean to OWN IT?
Owning It is not about Doing IT.Owning the supply chain means being able to significantly influence, if not fully control, your outsourced partners to meet your companies needs and expectations. Ownership requires the ability for an organization to positively influence supply chain outcomes when situations change and require action. Ownership means being able to see, in near real time what your outsourced agents are doing on your behalf and ensuring that they are following through... as you need. Ownership is being on top of situations as they occur before they become crises or it means that in the event of a crisis you have immediate access to the information you need to analyze, decide and act to direct the resolution to the problem quickly and responsively and not depend on your outsourced partner.
So what do I need to do to OWN IT?
Recognize that you can OWN IT. Supply chain technology has changed dramatically over the past several years and solutions that used to be beyond an organization's capabilities are now very accessible and affordable. These new solutions, like 3rdwave, allow you to
simply capture information from your outsourced supply chain partners so that you have visibility into their activities in near "real time".
have a comprehensive overview of the global supply chain - where your product sits across the supply chain - from source to receipt and sale to delivery.
see changes within the supply chain that will have consequential impact on the organization's ability to execute.
set up and measure your outsource partner's effectiveness in managing your account
Speak with other stakeholders to build understanding and consensus.
Review your organizations supply chain network so you can clearly articulate how it works and who your outsourced partners are.
Informally interview different solutions providers to understand the different solutions capabilities, competencies, and deliverables.
Get senior management buy-in.
Build a formal project with budget.
Pick a solution Partner
These newer supply chain solution are designed with tools that greatly reduce the cost of ownership without sacrificing competency or capability. These solutions take advantage of the open system technologies to architect solutions that are user-friendly, process driven, open to simple data exchange, require limited IT resources, easy to implement, and are very affordable.
Ned Blinick is Chief Product Officer of 3rdwave.co. He has been involved in global trade for too many decades and he loves making the global supply chain simpler for everyone. If you would like to engage with Ned he would really enjoy the opportunity of communicating with you. He can be reached at (416) 510 8800 ext 234 or at firstname.lastname@example.org