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Expect the Unexpected: How an S&OE Center of Excellence can Help Bring Sanity to your Supply Chain

Posted by Rob Cheng | May 11, 2019 9:51:44 PM


No matter how well your team has done its supply chain planning, it seems like exceptions always keep arising and you’re constantly in fire-fighting mode. Why can’t things ever go to plan? In reality, however, the “unexpected exception” really needs to become the “expected exception”, because they certainly seem to happen often enough.

But how can supply chain deal with these expected exceptions in a way that won’t keep driving everyone crazy? Consider some examples from other business functions: before the 1990s, sales teams had very little insight into forecasting, but now they are able to do so with surprising accuracy. In IT, as their responsibilities grew to cover multiple technology systems, so did their need to manage too many service requests across them all. In both cases, they developed a means to have oversight over the entire business process and centralize the responsibility for managing exceptions that arose. These lessons can be applied to supply chain as well to better handle the unexpected.

In the case of supply chain, the issue isn’t so much about operations (because supply chain operations are already a core focus of your teams), it’s about the ability to collaborate quickly and effectively when an exception deviates from the established plan. Forward-thinking organizations are creating Centers of Excellence for their supply chain:

“A Center of Excellence (CoE) is a body in an organization that works across business units (BUs) or product lines within a BU and has a leading-edge knowledge and competency in that area. It is comprised of highly-skilled individuals and experts, who disseminate knowledge in an organization and share best practices.”

A CoE will help your supply chain organization sustain the collaboration that you establish during the S&OP process through the execution phase. Some new skills will be required and every team in the supply chain needs to contribute in order for the CoE to provide every team with insight and recommendations on how to resolve exceptions in a structured manner. A well-run CoE will enable increased revenue capture, reduced inventory, higher productivity, and increased customer satisfaction.

To find out more about how a Center of Excellence can help your supply chain handle exceptions and how to build one in your organization, download the whitepaper here. In this whitepaper, you’ll discover:

  • The difference between Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) and Sales & Operations Execution (S&OE)
  • What components make up a Supply Chain CoE
  • What questions/steps need to be considered to establish a successful CoE
  • How to effectively launch your CoE

A supply chain CoE can have an enormous impact on your organization’s ability to respond to the unexpected while maintaining your sanity throughout the process. With a few new skills and a few new tools, your organization can improve its collaboration capabilities during production cycles and reap significant financial, customer, and employee satisfaction.  

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