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Harv Bus Rev. 2004 Oct;82(10):102-12, 157.

The triple-A supply chain.

Author information

  • 1Stanford Graduate School of Business, California, USA. haulee@stanford.edu

Abstract

Building a strong supply chain is essential for business success. But when it comes to improving their supply chains, few companies take the right approach. Many businesses work to make their chains faster or more cost-effective, assuming that those steps are the keys to competitive advantage. To the contrary: Supply chains that focus on speed and costs tend to deteriorate over time. The author has spent 15 years studying more than 60 companies to gain insight into this and other supply chain dilemmas. His conclusion: Only companies that build supply chains that are agile, adaptable, and aligned get ahead of their rivals. All three components are essential; without any one of them, supply chains break down. Great companies create supply chains that respond to abrupt changes in markets. Agility is critical because in most industries, both demand and supply fluctuate rapidly and widely. Supply chains typically cope by playing speed against costs, but agile ones respond both quickly and cost-efficiently. Great companies also adapt their supply networks when markets or strategies change. The best supply chains allow managers to identify structural shifts early by recording the latest data, filtering out noise, and tracking key patterns. Finally, great companies align the interests of the partners in their supply chains with their own. That's important because every firm is concerned solely with its own interests. If its goals are out of alignment with those of other partners in the supply chain, performance will suffer. When companies hear about the triple-A supply chain, they assume that building one will require increased technology and investment. But most firms already have the infrastructure in place to create one. A fresh attitude alone can go a long way toward making it happen.

PMID:
15559579
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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