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Supply Chain Collaboration – Tips from the Experts

By Jennifer Randall  December 23, 2015

There are plenty of quotes and sayings about the perils of operating in a bubble. But there is also plenty of support for collaboration and the same applies to supply chain design. Supply chain design is a must-have capability for businesses to keep up with the pace of change and to sustain a competitive advantage by significantly improving in the areas of cost, service and risk. Many of your industry peers and trading partners have already put in place an integrated supply chain design platform to rapidly and accurately answer tough supply chain ‘what-if’ questions and generate effective and clear recommendations for decision support. Some may be waiting for a trading partner who offers this value-added service. So why not work together to strengthen business relationships, demonstrate value-added services and leverage multiple supply chains for mutual benefit?

Check out these tips from industry experts and LLamasoft customers, who are each using supply chain modeling technology within their businesses in different ways to strengthen ties with trading partners and identify joint savings opportunities.

Tip 1 from Matt Algar, Logistics Director for North America at Unilever

Find the Right Partner

“Supply chain logistics affords businesses with unique opportunities to collaborate with suppliers, customers and #PLs and focus in on where the cost savings opportunities are. As businesses progress in supply chain optimization, they are starting to find many of the internal efficiency improvements opportunities have in effect “dried up” and market conditions are extremely challenging. Collaboration is a great way to pool risk and expand ways to improve productivity outside your four walls. But you want to be selective when choose a potential collaboration partner. A supply chain synergies initiative can lose steam very easily if there isn’t enough benefit on both sides, so look for collaboration potential. Don’t be afraid to look outside your current partner network; be more targeted to make sure the potential partner has the appetite and interest to work with you on ideas and dig into the analysis.

I also recommend you try to come together to achieve a shared goal. Set a target. For example ask yourselves, out of my total savings funnel, what percentage should come from collaboration activities?”

Tip 2 from Scott Finley, Manager of Advanced Analytics at Cardinal Health

Create “Stickiness” with Your Customers

“When we elevate our collaboration level with customers, we also increase our “stickiness” with them, mean we are working with them on a new level and we make them want to return to us because we demonstrated commitment to business relationship and have the drive and capability to create added value for both parties.

You can facilitate this by building an operations-to-operations relationship. Talk about how you can help each other; expand the relationship into something more meaningful than just contracts. For example, we work with our suppliers to identify ways to work with the manufacturers on smoothing orders by providing them with more information about our ordering patterns. Any time inventory is on a shelf and not working its way toward the end customer, it’s an added cost. We are continually looking for ways to make healthcare more efficient and affordable for our customers and one way we can do that is by using modeling to put together a data-backed business case that can have real, powerful results. Always be open and honest about possible benefits and your customer will be receptive to it.”

Tip 3 from John Morrison, Vice President of Global Strategic Planning for CHEP

Align Your Collaboration Plan to Business Goals, Not Just Supply Chain Goals

“As with any other business initiative, it’s important for each company to keep its supply chain collaboration goals aligned tightly to high-level business goals. This will help ensure your plans are headed in the same direction as the business, and will help secure executive support.”


For more tips for our experts to maximize your supply chain collaboration, check out the ebook: Six Tips from Supply Chain Leaders: Using Modeling Technology to Identify Supply Chain Collaboration Opportunities.