John O' Gorman

The Supply Chain Top 25 – Lessons From The Leaders

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For suppliers what makes for great supply chain management is certain to be of interest.   That means a recent Gartner report on the Top 25 Supply Chain leaders makes interesting reading.

The Supply Chain Top 25

Who are today’s leaders in terms of both buying and supplying? The answer is to be found from Gartner recently published Supply Chain Top 25.

As a salesperson it makes interesting reading, not just because the companies listed are names with which we are all familiar, but because the principles being adopted by today’s supply chain greats are likely to be adopted by our customers and prospects tomorrow.

The top 5 supply chain greats for 2011 are:

  1. Apple
  2. Dell
  3. P&G
  4. Research In Motion
  5. Amazon

No surprises there perhaps, they are all great companies. The full list is a who’s who of the business world’s top performing organisations, including; Cisco, McDonalds, Wal-Mart, Microsoft, Samsung, Pepsi, Coca-Cola, Nestle and Unilever. It is a list which clearly demonstrates that great companies are great at Supply Chain management.

But, how does a company make it onto the prestigious top 25 list? Well, by impressing its peers (there is a peer voting procedure), impressing Gartner’s analysts and last but not least delivering impressive business performance (measured in terms of metrics relating to revenue growth, ROI and inventory turn).

What lessons have the Top 25 for the rest of us who are part of, or manage a supply chain? What are the principles we can learn from the supply chain greats? Well, here are some of the headings from Gartner’s analysis:

1. ‘Supplier resilience’ – to be acutely demand driven and to cope with the continued market turbulence and uncertainty. That is resilience not just of the company at the core of the supply chain, but of all its partners.

2. ‘Value chain network integration’ – orchestrating all those elements of the supply chain (whether they are internal, or outsourced) with innovation and effectiveness. The role of the supplier here is clear.

3. ‘Vision and sustainable execution’ – a long term vision of the future of the supply chain and its role in the organisation’s success is key, but also the ability to bring it to life through a focus on effective implementation, change management and corporate governance. The supplier is part of a change management process.

4. ‘Orchestration’ combing elements of the supply chain in new and more innovative ways. Innovation is increasingly being required from suppliers.

These are the key issues for Supply Chain management in 2011 and beyond. The challenge for sellers is to adopt these principles too – a great supply chain is made of great suppliers.

Visit Gartner to see the full list of the supply chain top 25, or the leaders by industry vertical.

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