End-to-End Supply Chain

5 Secrets of End-to-End Supply Chain Improvement

end-to-end supply chain

Every successful business in today’s world understands the value of a well-oiled supply chain – this determines whether a company will lead the competition or gets left behind. Our ability to successfully implement and sustain a supply chain that delivers the highest possible value to the customer at the lowest possible total cost of fulfillment is of utmost importance.

What is the challenge? The answer is right in front of us, it’s in the name: supply chain. Many times a supply chain appears to be a collection of disconnected nodes and processes (chains) that follow each other and are only connected at single touch points. We often say: A chain is only as strong as its weakest link. The metaphor is quite telling, isn’t it? Our goal is to change this view point in today’s supply chain management. We have to create an end-to-end vision of the entire process of customer fulfillment, where functions work together with the customer defined value in mind, product flows evenly and smoothly to customer consumption and every step works to the dictated rhythm of takt time, the customer consumption, the heartbeat of lean supply chain operations. We need to connect all supply chain activities to produce flow in order to:

  • Reduce lead times
  • Improve working capital (reduce inventory)
  • And eliminate supply chain waste

We’ll share with you our tried and true practices of end-to-end lean supply chain implementation:

1. Build a visual and deep understanding of the purpose and current state of the end-to-end supply chain. Visibility is everything in any project; especially in really large scope project such as end-to-end supply chain improvement. A current state map and future state roadmap will show everyone that we know where we are, where we’re going and how we’ll get there. It is a timeless document based on stages, where the early stages reflect standardization and stability and later stages represent more advanced lean goals such as flow, JIT and Velocity. Above all, you need to start with understanding and standardizing the current process. “Without standards there can be no kaizen.” – Taichi Ohno

2. Gain leadership alignment and consensus on supply chain guiding principles through the vision for future state improvement plans and work streams to advance supply chain performance. Guiding principles of a lean fulfillment stream, such as reducing lead time, increasing velocity, and making consumption visible. Collaboration (just to mention a few) has to be agreed upon and adopted by all levels of leadership. These will become the timeless rules for everyone in the lean enterprise; this will ensure creation of successful end-to-end focus across our organization.

3. Identify and execute upon any “quick wins” for immediate waste reduction or opportunity leveraging. Like it or not, leaders of any company are interested in bottom line results. No matter how aligned we all are on our guiding principles, if the end-to-end lean supply chain effort doesn’t start producing results quickly, it will lose the interest of leadership and eventually fall apart. Be mindful of this rule and produce quick results and initial success stories. This will give your project momentum and carry it through the harder times down the road.

4. Develop people, process capability, and integrate this capability within the management system with a common language in order to implement and sustain the lean supply chain. Your people will be your biggest assets in sustaining the improvements you make in an end-to-end supply chain improvement project. Therefore, invest in their development and teach them to speak the common language of lean.

5. Create working models for decision making based on total cost fulfillment and integrate these tools within the management system. To sustain you need to give people tools and frameworks to do so:

  • Visual management
  • Problem solving management
  • Improved meeting culture
  • PDCA

These tools will help you achieve your goal.

Posted by LeanCor Supply Chain Group

blog author

LeanCor Supply Chain Group is a trusted supply chain partner that specializes in lean principles to deliver operational improvement. LeanCor’s three integrated divisions – LeanCor Training and Education, LeanCor Consulting, and LeanCor Logistics – help organizations eliminate waste, drive down costs, and build a culture of continuous improvement.

LinkedIn Google+



NEW: Resource Center

Lean Logistics and Transportation Management

From carrier management to network design, browse our best content – webinars, articles, videos, podcasts, and more. 

Visit the Transportation Resource Center

Subscribe Now!

Recent Posts

Supply Chain Brief