Digital Transformation is a popular term being used in today’s supply chain world. This can mean different things for your organization based on your company’s maturity.

Process improvement, process automation, moving from excel-based planning, Machine Learning/Artificial Intelligence, analytical tools, analytical dashboards, scenario planning, etc. all of these, or some of these, can be part of your company’s supply chain transformation.

Transformation focus can be on as few or as many company enhancements that your team sees fit. Transformation focus needs to be on what will drive your company to the next level based on where you are today. The next level is not always the ultimate goal of where you want to be but is a step taken to begin the journey. Do not try to run before you can walk, or the journey will fail before you get to the finish line. Here are five key points to consider in a supply chain transformation journey.

  1. Firstly, create a Process Roadmap that will help execute your strategy
    • (Assuming your company has a great foundational strategy to build on.) This is the time to revamp your process as you need to. Listen to your workforce and implement their ideas into making the process less frustrating for them. Many times, the management approved process, has been modified by the team because they have the frontline experience to make the process more efficient while still achieving the strategic goals.
    • This is a journey and change management will be key. Involving the workforce and trusting their feedback/ideas will build a partnership in your process that will aid in change management.

  2. Prepare your supply chain data so it is ready to work with
    • Yes, transformation partners will help cleanse your data, look for outliers, and do realignments suited for your needs. However, too many times, companies do not know how they want their new product, location, or pricing hierarchies to look.
    • If hierarchies are changing, products need realignment, or if there are known bad data in the past 3 years of history, work with your team to clean and organize this data. Have a hierarchy skeleton built for all aspects of your business. Your transformation partner will use this as a roadmap, giving you suggested adjustments along the way.

  3. Go all-in with quick analytical output
    • One of your team’s biggest frustrations is ‘No Time to Analyze the Business’. Most planning platform partners provide some type of analytical tools that are lightyears ahead of your current analysis process consisting of database data dumps to excel, manipulated with V-LOOKUP’s and IF/THEN statements, followed by the creation of a pretty chart and graph.
    • Find the partner that has the analytical capabilities to do all of this for you with the push of a couple buttons. Your team will have a new excitement about their jobs and analyzing their business. This will help eliminate their frustration and allow them to give your management team those quick answers to unscripted questions in S&OP meetings!

  4. Look for a transformation partner that will provide technology aligned with your goals and who has a personality fit with your team
    • Who is right for your team? Who gives you the answers you trust? (this answer may not be the one you want to hear, but it may be the correct answer) This is a journey, and your team should enjoy working with your chosen partner for project success.
    • Decide if you want a partner who will sell, implement, then slowly disappear into the night as they move onto the next big sale. This partner may give you the technology you need today but may not be there to help you in the future.
    • Decide if you want a partner who will be invested in your business, helping you grow, and continuously working to bring the best technology to you based on your company’s path to success. This partner is long term and will advance your technology as your business matures.

  5. Collaboration is Key
    • Do not lose focus on your vision and roadmap direction. If you get excited about the pretty bells and whistles and forget about where you are going, and what the key outputs/goals are, you will be very disappointed in the end. (with a very expensive IT yard ornament for your office)
    • Collaborate every step of the way with internal stakeholders. If the process needs adjusting and if the technology needs tweaking from the original plan, that is ok. Simply make sure you inform, discuss, and collaborate with everybody on those changes so everybody’s goals are still met.

Read More: Key Supply Chain Digital Transformation Pitfalls to Avoid

Bottom line, understand your business needs, and be humble enough to know where you are and what you need to move forward. A digital transformation roadmap for Nike looks much different than the roadmap for ExxonMobil. Make your business successful and more profitable. Do not focus on what your neighbor is doing because your roadmap to success is probably different than theirs.

Make sure your next step is on the trail that leads to the top of the mountain, not off the trail that leads to falling over the edge.