How to implement a Supply Chain Control Tower into your business? (Part 3)

Published by Ngoc Tran on

Continuous improvement phase of SCCT implementation

After the Initiation and go-Live phase, we approach the final phase of the implementation of a Supply Chain Control Tower (SCCT): Continuous Improvement. It is essential to take this phase into account from the start because the SCCT does not simply disappear after being implemented – it needs your attention to grow together with you!

According to Birk and Rombach (n.d.), continuous improvement bases on three key principles:

  • Stabilization of work practices: different parties within the SCCT implementation project should agree upon their common way of how to conduct their tasks, which implies that they should follow the same processes and procedures. Standardization or repeatability enables smooth transition and common understanding among multiple involved parties.
  • Intellectual control over development practices: to do this, the first step is to provide baseline information needed for understanding the project, which acts as a foundation for taking the right control actions. Next, target values and checkpoints should be developed to compare with the baseline information.
  • Sharing and reuse of knowledge and experience: it’s important that companies should develop a knowledge management plan (preferably digital) when incorporating a new software into companies’ activities. However, not many companies are prepared to do so. Some suggestions on which knowledge dimensions should be shared/ transferred by which instruments and an example of a knowledge management table are illustrated in the figures below.
Transferred knowledge dimensions and instruments

Figure 1. Shared/Transferred knowledge dimensions and instruments (adapted from Birk and Rombach, (n.d.))

Knowledge management table figure 3

Figure 2. Knowledge management table (Nagel, 2001)

Besides these principles, it is essential to realize that the job designs of some positions have changed. For example, before the SCCT implementation, an IT specialist gives 100% his dedication to repair or to upgrade any complex IT systems; however, during and after the implementation, part of his job is focused on developing and monitoring the SCCT performance. Thus, his job tasks could be changed to 40% SCCT monitoring and 60% IT support/maintenance/other systems development. It’s called a dual role.

Another aspect in the Continuous improvement phase is to make personal benefits more visible to individuals. This is because many employees are fear of being deskilled by the new computerized technologies, which doesn’t seem to be beneficial to them but solely to the whole organization. To translate organizational benefits into individual rewards, one of the ways is to give them fast positive feedbacks on how the SCCT affects their outputs and productivity. In the cross-functional implementation team, some potential roles should be created, such as a diplomat and a problem-solver, in order to handle the resistance. Nevertheless, the most effective approach is if the implementation team stars thinking of phase 3 from the beginning (the Initiation phase of the SCCT implementation). Specifically, the cross-functional team studies the needs of different employees/sites and meets their needs with the application of a SCCT system. In other words, we can call it Quality Assurance instead of Quality Control.

In conclusion, the key to a successful continuous improvement of a SCCT implementation is to (1) generate standardization of processes and procedures, and common understanding of all involved parties, (2) set KPIs to compare the SCCT performance and take appropriate resolve actions, (3) update the knowledge management plan/system, (4) update job tasks, and (5) make personal benefits more visible to individuals.

Now, let’s ask ourselves what are the effects of the SCCT on a company performance in terms of finance, supply chain, marketing & sales, procurement, and HR? Could it be only positive or also negative? This will be covered in the next post in a form of a case study. Curious already? Stay tuned and get back to this blog soon!

Thank you for reading and please share if you find it useful!

Recommended reading:

Knowledge Management: A pragmatic process-based approach (Nagel, 2001)

Operations Management (Slack, 2019)

A practical approach to continuous improvement in software engineering (Birk and Rombach, n.d.)

Series Supply Chain Control Tower


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