Lesson 4: Working Out Loud in a Responsive Supply Chain Network

Working Out Loud

Lesson 4: Working Out Loud in a Responsive Supply Chain Network

Supply Chain is the sequence of processes, people, activities and resources involved moving a product from supplier to customer.

What were the problems that needed to be fixed?

A 2000 strong Supply Chain team had collective expertise at each stage from: Procurement, Production, Distribution, Sales and Marketing — to the all important Customers, at the end of the supply chain. Specifically Supply Planners, Demand Forecasters, Site Schedulers, Customer Services and Logistics were not sharing information but working in deep team silos.

The Supply Chain needed a collaboration tool that encouraged peer to peer support and would also provide a central communication forum that linked to their private Team Sites. The diverse, large team spread across geographies and time zones but had collective goals – with different short term challenges. They needed to find a way to collaborate and keep working as one team, to get the best out of collective experiences that kept product wastage minimal, costs low and maintain the highest quality standards.

How would you have fixed it in the past, without enterprise social networking (ESN)?

Hundreds of random emails and phone call

Team Sites for storing Excel, PowerPoint, Word documents and agendas

Weekly escalation meetings

Monthly and quarterly meetings focused mainly on performance

What did Working Out Loud on ESN help achieve, that wasn’t possible before?

Shared programme updates

Shared specific issues within the Supply Chain, particularly 3rd party vendor relationships, production downtime issues, stock shortages and inventory reduction targets

Shared achievements and milestones

Questions answered quickly by a myriad of international subject matter experts

Improved working across time zones

ESN machine-based translation of real-time conversations into 40 languages helped to break down barriers

After deploying ESN, what value-add outcomes were achieved?

Connection with a broader global team that broke down silos across the Supply Planners, Demand Forecasters, Site Schedulers, Customer Service and Logistics who were previously not sharing information

Issues resolved faster that might ultimately of increased the end product costs if delayed

Learning from and networking with others

Increased sense of identity and culture around the Supply Chain

Identified good practices

Anytime anywhere any place access to the ESN from personal mobile devices such as iPhones and iPads

Shared international experiences

What were the benefits of this to the people involved and to the company?

Increased sense of ownership of Supply Chain issues, particularly 3rd party vendor relationships, production downtime issues, stock shortages and inventory reduction targets

New staff “up to speed” faster by connecting with those more experienced

Improved reporting standards

Greater awareness of Supply Chain know-how and tacit knowledge

Encouraged good practices and new ways of working across the business

Improved knowledge and camaraderie at weekly, monthly and regional meetings

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Working Out Loud in A Network decreases email dependency by removing the limits of a typical lateral, two-dimensional command and control structure.
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What is a Responsive Supply Chain?

Working Out Loud in The Supply Chain demonstrates how Enterprise Social Networking (ESN) adds business value by creating a more responsive, connected, intelligent, scalable, end to end secure organisation. ESN will no longer be regarded as a separated employee collaboration/communication network but seamlessly embedded in processes and systems eg., IT data-warehouses and Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP). Ultimately, companies utilizing Responsive Supply Chains will out-perform competitors. Ref #wolan model.

ERP is the management of orders, production, warehouses and transportation, often using Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) and barcodes to manage stock control. 


This lesson demonstrates a Community of Practice working out loud

Communities of Practice (CoP) are formed by people who engage in a process of collective learning. It has an identity defined by a shared domain of interest, and members of it will be practitioners and experts, who bring real life experience to the space.

Communities develop their practices through a variety of activities including: Problem solving; requests for information; seeking experience; reusing assets; co-ordination and identifying synergies; discussion; visits; mapping knowledge.

CoP’s should be driven by the members and so they are dynamic. There are often three levels of participation. The core group participate intensely in the community through discussions and even collaborative projects; the active group who attend and participate regularly, but not to the level of the core group; and the peripheral group who, while they may be more passive observers of the interactions, still learn from them.  Ref: 1% Rule: Core 1% | Active 9% | Peripheral 90%

Business Intelligent hashtags: #supplychain #forecast #customerservice #logistics #warehouse #distribution #production #kpi #sku #quality #customer #vendor #erp #manufacturing #escalation #rfid

Reference: Zara’s Responsive Supply Chain

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