Software Services, Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Business Process Integration

Successful SCM requires a change from managing individual functions to integrating activities into key supply chain processes. An example scenario: the purchasing department places orders as requirements become appropriate. Marketing, responding to customer demand, communicates with several distributors and retailers, and attempts to satisfy this demand. Shared information between supply chain partners can only be fully leveraged through process integration.

Supply chain business process integration involves collaborative work between buyers and suppliers, joint product development, common systems and shared information. According to Lambert and Cooper operating an integrated supply chain requires continuous information flows, which in turn assist to achieve the best product flows. However, in many companies, management has reached the conclusion that optimizing the product flows cannot be accomplished without implementing a process approach to the business. The key supply chain processes stated by Lambert are:

  • Customer relationship management
  • Customer service management
  • Demand management
  • Order fulfillment
  • Manufacturing flow management
  • Supplier relationship management
  • Product development and commercialization
  • Returns management

Other key critical supply business processes combining these processes stated by Lambert such as:

  1. Customer service management
  2. Procurement
  3. Product development and commercialization
  4. Manufacturing flow management/support
  5. Physical distribution
  6. Outsourcing/partnerships
  7. Performance measurement

1. Customer service management process:

Service Management is integrated into Supply Chain Management as the joint between the actual sales and the customer. The aim of high performance Service Management is to optimize the service-intensive supply chains, which are usually more complex than the typical finished-goods supply chain. Most service-intensive supply chains require larger inventories and tighter integration with field service and third parties. They also must accommodate inconsistent and uncertain demand by establishing more advanced information and product flows. Moreover, all processes must be coordinated across numerous service locations with large numbers of parts and multiple levels in the supply chain.

Customer Relationship Management concerns the relationship between the organization and its customers.Customer service provides the source of customer information. It also provides the customer with real-time information on promising dates and product availability through interfaces with the company’s production and distribution operations. Successful organizations use following steps to build customer relationships:

  • Determine mutually satisfying goals between organization and customers
  • Establish and maintain customer rapport
  • Produce positive feelings in the organization and the customers

2. Procurement process:

Strategic plans are developed with suppliers to support the manufacturing flow management process and development of new products. In firms where operations extend globally, sourcing should be managed on a global basis. The desired outcome is a win-win relationship, where both parties benefit, and reduction times in the design cycle and product development are achieved. Also, the purchasing function develops rapid communication systems, such as electronic data interchange (EDI) and Internet linkages to transfer possible requirements more rapidly. Activities related to obtaining products and materials from outside suppliers requires performing resource planning, supply sourcing, negotiation, order placement, inbound transportation, storage, handling and quality assurance, many of which include the responsibility to coordinate with suppliers in scheduling, supply continuity, hedging, and research into new sources or programmes.

3. Product development and commercialization:

Here, customers and suppliers must be united into the product development process, thus to reduce time to market. As product life cycles shorten, the appropriate products must be developed and successfully launched in ever shorter time-schedules to remain competitive. According to Lambert and Cooper, managers of the product development and commercialization process must:

  • Coordinate with customer relationship management to identify customer-articulated needs;
  • Select materials and suppliers in conjunction with procurement, and
  • Develop production technology in manufacturing flow to manufacture and integrate into the best supply chain flow for the product/market combination.


4. Manufacturing flow management process

The manufacturing process is produced and supplies products to the distribution channels based on past forecasts. Manufacturing processes must be flexible to respond to market changes, and must accommodate mass customization. Orders are processes operating on a just-in-time (JIT) basis in minimum lot sizes. Also, changes in the manufacturing flow process lead to shorter cycle times, meaning improved responsiveness and efficiency of demand to customers. Activities related to planning, scheduling and supporting manufacturing operations, such as work-in-process storage, handling, transportation, and time phasing of components, inventory at manufacturing sites and maximum flexibility in the coordination of geographic and final assemblies postponement of physical distribution operations.

5. Physical distribution

This concerns movement of a finished product/service to customers. In physical distribution, the customer is the final destination of a marketing channel, and the availability of the product/service is a vital part of each channel participant’s marketing effort. It is also through the physical distribution process that the time and space of customer service become an integral part of marketing, thus it links a marketing channel with its customers (e.g. links manufacturers, wholesalers, retailers).

6. Outsourcing/partnerships

This is not just outsourcing the procurement of materials and components, but also outsourcing of services that traditionally have been provided in-house. The logic of this trend is that the company will increasingly focus on those activities in the value chain where it has a distinctive advantage and everything else it will outsource. This movement has been particularly evident in logistics where the provision of transport, warehousing and inventory control is increasingly subcontracted to specialists or logistics partners. Also, to manage and control this network of partners and suppliers requires a blend of both central and local involvement. Hence, strategic decisions need to be taken centrally with the monitoring and control of supplier performance and day-to-day liaison with logistics partners being best managed at a local level.

7. Performance measurement

Experts found a strong relationship from the largest arcs of supplier and customer integration to market share and profitability. By taking advantage of supplier capabilities and emphasizing a long-term supply chain perspective in customer relationships can be both correlated with firm performance. As logistics competency becomes a more critical factor in creating and maintaining competitive advantage, logistics measurement becomes increasingly important because the difference between profitable and unprofitable operations becomes more narrow. A.T. Kearney Consultants noted that firms engaging in comprehensive performance measurement realized improvements in overall productivity. According to experts internal measures are generally collected and analyzed by the firm including

  • Cost
  • Customer Service
  • Productivity measures
  • Asset measurement, and
  • Quality

External performance measurement is examined through customer perception measures and “best practice” benchmarking, and includes

  • Customer perception measurement, and
  • Best practice benchmarking

3 thoughts on “Supply Chain Business Process Integration

  1. Nizan David Horsefield says:

    I’ve found found that the companies who fail, do so because they cannot manage inter-departmental transitions. Key information, customer focus and time can be lost during this transition. What is the answer? In my opinion the answer is holistic appreciation; whether manual or automated, the BPM designer should create a fow that appreciates what the next stage needs….FULLY!


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