Please don’t create that new “End to End” Supply Chain position- unless you really mean it.

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I was talking to someone this afternoon who late last year started in a leadership role that had “End to End” Supply Chain in the title. The mandate he was given was to develop a team that will ensure that there are efficiencies within the End to End Supply Chain. Makes perfect sense.

Except for the fact that like most of the “End to End” Supply Chain teams, this team also sits outside of ALL core Supply Chain functions, as a seperate team.

And I cringe with this idea- absolutely hate it, since I believe millions of Dollars are being wasted creating these “End to End” teams that actually do not have the kind of mandate productive End to End teams should have.

Remember that these teams are not Analytics Center of Excellence (CoE)- for which it makes sense to have as an external entity that different teams within Supply Chain can approach to get their problems loked into. End to End teams are process intensive as well and obviously the major challenge of these teams is change management. And change management is a pain in the *** because the status of these teams is mostly “advisoty”.

See…I get the “cross team collaboration” and all that jazz. Yes, they are extremely important in Supply Chain, to keep Supply Chains running seamlessly as one entity. But these should not be used to hinder change or tools to resist change. And this viewpoint also does not mean that other teams never listen to “End to End” guys. But hey, think about this. If you are the head of Procurement and “End to End” team comes to you with an amazing idea about reducing inventory- you want to believe in it and try it- but your first priority will always be to safeguard your service levels.

Now, you can pull out other classic ” aligned metrics” card and I will cringe again. Listen, aligned metrics and cross team collaborations are best in class practices for sure but there are ground realities to all this. For example, in this customer service obsessed world, no “aligned” metric is going to allow you to “experiment” with service levels. Now, in our example, you can argue that if your Inventory optimization analytics is right, service levels may not be impacted at all. But what if a pilot indicates otherwise ? The procurement department will safely maintain an “End to End” distance from “End to End” team for a while.

All because they are different teams.

So what is the solution ? The solution is simple and lies entirely in organizational design. The key to successful End to End transformation is to ensure that all teams fall within an “End to End ” organizations- not the current approach of having an “End to End” team as one entity in the Supply Chain org. What does this mean? Simplified- there needs to be an End to End Supply Chain person reporting directly to CSCO. And all the core teams like procurement, logistics, warehousing, manufacturing fall under this person.

Now there are other nuances (details) that go into further designing this type of org structure but my adise is- be realistic and create a true “End to End” team- whcih will be your entire Supply Chain team. Otherwise, it will end up being just another “cosmetic team” out there.


Views expressed are entirely my own.

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