To finish the series of Q&A blogs on the SAP Supply Chain Control Tower (SCCT) we asked Michael Mack, Solution Manager and Co-Innovation Lead for SCCT, to share with us his views and insights.
1. How would you define the Supply Chain Control Tower?
The SCCT is an end-to-end visibility solution, that acts like a weather forecast for your supply chain. Any time you look into it, it gives you the accurate statement of the end-to-end chain with suppliers and customers in a multi-tier environment. The Control Tower combines data from supply chain planning, execution, business network and IoT into a single view to help users make decisions and drive actions. The Control Tower provides you with actionable insight with decision proposals, alongside simulation capabilities across the entire supply chain. It also gives external partners an insight into the manufacturer's plans and lets them collaborate on the same contexts.
What are the three top capabilities you would seek to gain from a Control Tower?
1. Live data access- provides seamless integration into SAP and non-SAP related tools. As a business user I would like to see the data at the right time, in a harmonized way to make the best informed decisions.
2. Decision support- Supply Chain can be quite complex and as a user I don't want to be overwhelmed by information. I want the system to give me an overview of the most pressing issues and suggestions on how I solve these problems. I'd also like to analyse these situations based on financial priorities and the company's revenue goals. In addition, the system should be able to learn from what I did in the past, to provide me with the smartest decisions. For example, if previously I've ran production overtime several times when supply shortages occur, I don't want to see suggestions for expedite deliveries for stock.
3. Usability- The user interface should be seamless allowing me to get insight into the current situation, on both mobile or tablet, when I'm on the go. On a morning if I'm on my way into the office, I'd like to see exceptions on my mobile phone and I'd also like to make instant decisions based on suggested options, and to have the ability to connect with other people in the supply chain in an instant way. When I'm in the office environment I'd like to see the relevant data on a powerful desktop environment.
3. What time horizon would you plan to use a Control Tower for? (Days/ Weeks/ Months)
I see it in the short term horizon, varying from different industries. A good indicator is to use the Control Tower within the frozen lead time of a product so it means when the product is already planned, orders are placed at the supply or internal manufacturing plants. The Control Tower is monitoring and making sure that these customer orders are being delivered on time, in the best way. Across the whole horizon I am able to use the Control Tower to track my performance. With performance control I can do bench marking within my own company but also with my partners e.g. suppliers and the industry.
4. What is the role of the Control Tower in relation to Segmentation?
Segmentation is really important for big supply chains to handle the whole array of products they have in the right way. For example, a consumer goods company has many products e.g. frozen, organic and general products and each of these must be handled differently. This is really important for the end-to-end planning and execution process. If we segment the products into these categories the entire supply chain should focus on this and should use the same priorities and same rules to generate the highest business benefit. The role of segmentation in the Control Tower needs to be taken together with policy management, so if I have these segments, I need to define rules and priorities for each of the segments and ensure I apply it to all the members. Those policies can be reviewed in a monthly or regular cadence and can follow influences by the product life cycle status, the seasonality and so on.
What is the role of the Control Tower and Planning/ Re-planning?
The planning and re-planning capability is of up most importance if the supply chain system landscape is fragmented. The Control Tower environment provides an end-to-end view of the whole supply chain situation and allows me to re-plan it. This is especially important if I am making a decision that affects multiple systems so I can try out and simulate assumptions before I go into the detailed systems.
What is the role of the Control Tower and Analytics?
Analytics are a very important element for the Control Tower. It is far easier to understand data in a graphical way instead of only seeing numbers, and with the Control Tower's analytical capabilities you can create ad hoc charts and analytics when needed for specific situations. It's also also important that the analytics are fast and easy to use on any device.
What is the role of the Control Tower and Performance Management?
Active performance management is important to track the performance of the supply chain and also to drive immediate actions. As we are now in a society where big data is getting more and more important, I need to track a KPI from the top company/ group level down to the individual sales order item lines and to ensure I measure this in a constant way. It's also important that I am able to collaborate with others on performance management to make improvements.
What is the role of the Control Tower and Collaboration?
In the digital age, it's very important to have seamless and fast communication with manufacturers, suppliers and customers. Business networks provide these capabilities of easy on boarding and also many-to-many connectivity. For SCCT there is a high level of inventory visibility of the upstream and downstream supply chain to see where potential issues are. In addition, to these other processes like sharing/ capacity information are very important for an end-to-end visibility tool like supply chain control tower. Imagine that there is a Tier 2 who does not know about the recent manufacturer's production increase. Such unawareness could easily result in a global supply shortage. Here the SCCT should help the manufacturer to identify miss matching plans, help them to be resolved before these issues occur.
If you'd like to view previous blogs in the series please click on the links below:
Q&A SCCT Interview with Kenton Harmon, SAP Supply Chain Product Manager Click Here
Q&A SCCT Interview with Syngenta Cick Here