By Marisa Brown
Recent research published in APQC’s Supply Chain Management Priorities and Challenges report provides insights surrounding 2018 supply chain management priorities challenges, trends, and budget expectations. Nearly 300 respondents from industry organizations shared feedback addressing on the areas of focus listed below.
SUPPLY CHAIN PLANNING
This focus area is the basic underlying foundation inside the supply chain organization and a strong focus for 80 percent of participants. Viable supply chain planning can result in better execution when addressing customer demand. Identifying and implementing best practices and cutting costs emerged as top priorities in this area.
Relationships with suppliers are a core aspect of supply chain management. Leveraging best practices, cutting costs, and implementing new technologies are top priorities in this focus area.
Implementing best practices and standardizing processes are two priorities relating to inventory management. Warehouse operations prove to be a ripe area for process improvement as it’s the most resource-intensive logistics process. Organizations need to find a balance between carrying inventory and maintaining appropriate costs.
Procurement can be viewed as a business partner in the organization as it uses strong processes to measure, track, and report performance that correlate with business goals. Leveraging best practices, standardizing processes, and cutting costs are the top priorities for this function.
Participants in the logistics focus area cite different top priorities, since this area is more execution-driven. The top priorities are cutting costs, implementing new technologies, and leveraging best practices.
MANUFACTURING AND PRODUCTION
It’s no surprise that cost cutting is a top priority for manufacturing and production in 2018. Manufacturing managers face heightened pressure to remain cost competitive and present a distinctive customer value proposition. Other top priorities in this area are implementing new technologies and standardizing processes.
PRODUCT DESIGN AND DEVELOPMENT
Implementing new technologies and capabilities is the top priority for participants in product design and development, which is the only supply chain management segment focusing on technology as a top priority. This area thrives as emerging technologies are developed, especially in the design stage.
CHALLENGES TO IMPROVEMENT
In addition to supply chain priorities, research participants also revealed challenges to making improvements in supply chain processes (Figure 2). APQC discovered the top two challenges (tied at 39 percent) relate to people issues: limited workforce engagement and limited time for improvements outside of supply chain work.
Marisa Brown has more than 25 years of experience in business, research, writing, speaking, and consulting. Currently, she focuses on the in-depth needs of APQC’s members in supply chain management and product development as she develops and oversees APQC's supply chain management research agenda. She leads APQC’s supply chain team that conducts research to provide insights into benchmarks, best practices, and process improvements in supply chain planning, procurement, logistics, manufacturing, product development, and innovation.
George E. Krauter
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