Supply Chain Consulting

4 Crucial Steps for Effective Supply Chain Consulting

Supply Chain Consulting

Today’s complex supply chains require vision, strategies, and innovative techniques to create optimal performance. Organizations leverage supply chain consulting companies or in-house project leaders to improve processes within transportation and warehousing, inventory and materials management, and the implementation of lean, six sigma, and operational excellence across the entire value stream.

Here are four crucial tasks for a thorough and effective supply chain consulting project:

1. Pre-Plan and Gain Alignment

  • Develop the team and create a communication plan (assign roles, finalize calendar).
  • Confirm the scope (important for the dreaded "scope creep") and plan.
  • Determine the on-going PDCA checkpoints.

2. Understand and Capture the Current State

To accurately capture the baseline and the current state of operations, stakeholders, and processes, a supply chain consulting group should:

  • Value stream map the overall current state. This includes deep dive process reviews, maps and visuals articulating the current state of the operation.
  • Gather all relevant data.
  • Conduct operational site visits. This is crucial to "go and see" the gemba , or where the work is done, to see what is really happening, not what is supposed to be happening or what historical data says has happened in the past. The goal is to capture the current reality on a single sheet of paper that everyone touching and managing the supply chain consulting project can see.
  • Create a visual map of the supply chain network.
  • Capture total logistics costs.
  • Capture transportation and inventory strategy.
  • Conduct current state waste and opportunity evaluation with key stakeholders.
  • Gain an understanding of warehouse, transportation, and inventory process capabilities.

3. Conduct Current State Analysis

In supply chain consulting, this includes defining and testing multiple options, validating those options, and conducting analysis for things such as transportation impact, the end customer profile, and system inventory. The focus should remain on elements of speed, cost, quality, and delivery, while applying lean principles such as eliminating waste, reducing lead time, and creating level flow.

4. Develop the Future State with Optimal Results

A key deliverable of a supply chain consulting project is an actionable implementation road map that defines, quantifies, and prioritizes the gaps between current and future. This proven approach coupled with cumulative experiences ensures that the recommendations received are challenging but realistic. A change management plan is also necessary, as implementation will require team members to be engaged and help others make the proposed state a reality.

Other deliverables should include:

  • Visual representation of recommended future state model
  • Detailed gap analysis from current to future state to show potential results, comparing the current-state performance against potential results of the improved future state
  • Impacts to infrastructure, process, and technology
  • Total logistics cost impact summary
  • FMEA (Failure Modes and Effects Analysis)

The goal is to obtain results in all areas while still making sure that overall activities focus on the system at large. To do this, the supply chain consulting team needs a rigorous process to ensure that all problems are fixed at the root-cause level and that the future state is implemented methodically, step-by-step. Otherwise, system-focused improvements will be trumped by daily departmental concerns.

Overall, the supply chain consulting project should provide tangible results, ultimately achieving benefits of total logistics cost reduction, working capital improvements, supporting manufacturing efficiencies, and optimization of material and information flow.


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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.

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