People, Process, Technology: Three Keys to A Successful Supply Chain Improvement Project

Image smart team members in front of a board mapping processes working on laptop

Every supply chain problem requires a unique solution: One size fits all simply isn’t a thing in this industry of countless complexities. That said, no matter the challenge, client, or prospective customer, we at Profit Point build everything we do on the same three keys to success in any supply chain improvement project: People, Process, and Technology. And we return to that mantra – in that order – as the basis of every decision along the way.

People First, Always

People make things happen: No matter how advanced a technology or how cutting-edge a solution is required, supply chain solutions depend on the right people in the right roles, communicating openly and pulling together effectively.

For starters, any successful project requires a clear, trusted, and committed champion: The person needs to buy into the project fully and sell its advantages up and down the organization. They need the skills to cast a vision for why the project will be worth the effort it takes to implement, and to effectively explain to people at all levels the reasons for making the changes that are asked of them.

If you’re having trouble finding this type of champion, it’s worth taking a hard look at what’s driving the change to the new process. Nothing stalls a project like the lack of a good reason for doing it in the first place. Keep the desired gains in mind, and make sure management is committed to developing and keeping up the momentum to achieve them.

There must also be a strong focus on the people who will be directly impacted by the new ways of working. Aim to alleviate fears of change and technology, and provide incentives to keep everyone pulling in the same direction: It’s not enough just to put in the effort to implement change – it needs to be clear that success depends on sustaining the changes.

The best implementations happen within a culture of continuous innovation and improvement. Teams and individuals alike have to be willing to provide feedback on what is working well with the change and address what could use further enhancement.


Know Your Process

Successful implementation also requires a clear and understandable work process that directly addresses the business function to be performed. Just how effective this process will be on an ongoing basis depends completely on the discipline of the people tasked with following it.

For instance, if there are aspects of a tool or process that folks are struggling to get their heads around, they’ll often just not follow that procedure or use that tool. It’s terribly easy to fall back on old habits and practices in the face of change. A well-defined and properly explained process can also play a role in addressing turnover, as it helps alleviate fear of change and facilitates engagement.

We’ve seen firsthand how a lack of management commitment and failure to get teams engaged with the process have led directly to project failure, particularly when bundled with an inadequate technological toolset – which brings us to the third key.


Technology As a Tool

New technology is the first thing that often springs to mind when businesses look to supply chain improvements, but there’s a reason Profit Point’s philosophy addresses it third: As vital as it is, technology is ultimately just a tool to be used in support of our first two support pillars: It is the enabler of the work process for the people, and it needs to be designed with the work process in mind.

Today’s technological advances have delivered great freedoms in our capacity to design and deliver a variety of powerful decision support tools. The danger is that it’s also become too easy for people to focus on the technology and think that if only they can implement a certain software system, then the benefits of that system will just automatically happen.

Nothing could be further from reality: You’ve got to focus on the people first, then define the work process before you even consider developing a technological solution. When technology drives the solution, you’re setting yourself up for failure. We’ve seen companies jump too early into a scheduling implementation that tries to model too much detail and an overly simple solution, only to realize too late that the project was entirely wrong for their people and process considerations.

Successful implementation of supply chain improvement projects requires a focus on the three key pillars of People, Process, and Technology. Profit Point’s philosophy emphasizes:

  • Putting people first, ensuring that the right individuals are in the right roles and are committed to driving change.
  • Developing a clear and understandable work process that addresses the business functions to be performed.
  • Recognizing that while technology plays a vital role, it is first and foremost a tool to be used in support of the other two pillars.

By building on a foundation of these three keys to success, businesses can achieve sustainable supply chain improvements that drive tangible results. Profit Point’s expertise in this area is evident in their approach, which prioritizes collaboration, flexibility, and continuous improvement, delivering customized solutions that meet the unique needs of each client.

Ultimately, what happens if you don’t have the people – both at the level of an individual project champion and throughout the management and organization – who embrace change and are committed to implement and sustain it; and if you don’t have a work process that will deliver the benefits of the change? Don’t bother implementing a technology solution that won’t work or that nobody will use. Save your time and money for something else.

About Mark Rockey

Mark Rockey is a Production Scheduling and Supply Chain Planning Practice Leader at Profit Point. He has spent 20+ years applying analytic techniques to solve real world problems in network design; production and distribution planning and scheduling; and capacity analysis and design.

Contact Us

Have a Question? Get in touch. Profit Point is here to answer any questions you may have, help you with information, and create an effective solution for all of your supply chain needs.
Contact us here