The Seven S’s of Supply Chain Management

SevenSsOfSCMDisruption is all around us and in order to capture some of the key disruptors in the Supply Chain space we have identified what we’re calling the Seven S’s of supply chain management to act as the framework for our upcoming supply chain management work

Without further ado, the seven S’s of SCM are Synergy, Standards, Semantic, Serialization, Synchronization, Sustainability and Social and we will now review each of these at a summary level so you can see where we’re headed.


Synergy is an elusive thing. It is sometimes difficult to identify and even more challenging to capture, this is even more true when it comes to the search for synergy in complex global supply chains. Synergy means savings and the focus of our synergy research will be on identifying the different varieties of supply chain synergy that exist in today’s marketplace, think overlap, offset and many other forms available once multicompany data sharing and active collaboration commences. We will also be very interested in looking further at the need for hybrid software/service firms in order to tap into a number of the synergy types we have identified.


When it comes to successfully implementing advanced supply chain management models standards are like oxygen. They are a prerequisite for success without which no scalable multi-company solutions can be built or rolled out in any sustainable manner. Standards for product numbering and data sharing, identification, location numbering, communications, RFID and now emerging standards for semantic data formats. An important part of our discussions will be on integrating standards with processes and how to facilitate widespread adoption overcoming current inertia.


Transparent and simplified data sharing is the key to unlocking the latent synergies that exist in all supply chains, due to the many forms of siloization, as well as the cultural issues that have often prevented access to the data needed to identify and begin the capture process. What semantic data formats will emerge as the most effective standard in supply chain management or will multiple interoperative formats emerge? How will these most effectively be integrated into SCM software systems? And last but not least how will these datasets ultimately be merged in an effective, reliable, secure and actionable manner?


Traceability, e-Pedigree, carbon tracking, RoHS/WEEE/REACH, consignment and item level RFID are all emerging reasons why serialization is rising in importance in supply chain management. What impacts will serialization have on systems and most importantly actual logistics processes these systems support? How can these impacts best be mitigated to ensure reliable performance and realistic as well as efficient operations? Accurate reporting of carbon at the unique product level for sustainability purposes will require serialization in order to capture and report accurately.


Synchronization is where the rubber meets the road in terms of bringing together all of these component methods and systems to deliver a future state end to end supply chain network. Supply Chain Synchronization is not as simple as it may sound, in fact there are at least eight different dimensions across which supply chains can be synchronized. In our research we will share further details on these dimensions and how both end users and IT/Service vendors can best utilize and integrate synchronization in their operations, products and services.


There are many unfamiliar with the direct correlation between supply chain performance and carbon footprint. In most cases a company’s supply chain represents 75% of the carbon footprint generated by the organization. Of course there are a number of applications emerging relative to overall carbon tracking and Adrian Bowles our Sustainability systems guru will provide coverage of these. Our focus will be on the direct supply chain ramifications, because “when not if” cap & trade or similar programs are introduced, current supply chain network design thinking (and the systems which model & optimize them) will be turned on their heads. Those companies which recognize this and take preparatory actions will see direct competitive advantage in supply chain costs for perhaps one to two years before those not taking action can catch up.


Social is the most recent development in supply chains and in our opinion the one factor which will most differentiate the performance of both end user operations and IT products over the next several years. The application of social networking based technologies in the supply chain will be at a number of different levels including employee engagement, innovation, continuous improvement and a number of others in operations and supply chain planning/forecasting. Our intent with this research is to also identify and begin definition of the use of social applications that can deliver hard benefits to supply chain operators and also facilitate collaborative cross company efforts.

We look forward to expanding our work on all of the above topics and sharing the results with you in future updates and blogposts. In addition a keynote presentation on the Seven S’s of Supply Chain Management is also being prepared for delivery at major conferences in order to get the word out on these potentially disruptive forces. And as always we welcome your input, ideas and suggestions as we crystallize our thinking around these key future state supply chain factors.


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