Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Limits of Excellence

It's time to toss aside the buzzwords in supply chain management and advance to the next stage of manufacturing excellence. Words like agility, flexibility, and speed have become synonymous with best-practices in supply chain, but even as these terms define what executives aim for, the reality is that they are now considered foundational practices that cannot be compromised. A supply chain system worth the name must have them. Period.
If that's the case, excellence might seem to have a limit. In some ways it does. Perfection in one segment of an enterprise is worth celebrating, but it must be joined with the competitive edge other sections can provide. As I noted in a recent blog, customers now take for granted certain levels of quality and delivery, having assumed that a company must at a basic level meet these lofty goals just to match its peers in competitiveness. In order for a supply chain system to help the entire enterprise stand out, it must align itself with and work closely with other critical departments, including design, sales, and marketing.  
EBN contributor and industry veteran Ken Bradley addressed a similar vein in his latest blog, in which he explained why businesses need to stay focused on total cost and competitiveness issues. Ken's blog pointedly avoided conflating pricing and costs, both of which are related but also quite different in certain ways. By focusing on total cost rather than on pricing alone, companies can improve their competitive positions through examining all parts of the operation for savings.  )

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