Q&A: The Importance of Supply Chain Integration
Mediafleet Head of Development, Rob Rudd, talks to Ian Birch at SG Fleet about working together to create a better ‘End User Experience’.
Supply chain integration is a process that aligns all stakeholders in the supply chain to improve efficiencies. These efficiencies benefit end user by delivery of the product/service on time, in full and on budget, and benefits the supplier through maximising profits leading to stable long term supply.
RR: Supply Chain Integration (SCI) is a strategic process. I say this because those organisations adopting supply chain management processes will fundamentally show Competitive Advantage (CA) thus reducing the need for alternative CA strategies that could negatively affect the profit position. In other words, SCI is about working with technical partners to deliver a ‘class leading fleet supply solution’.
IB: The best way to view SCI is by regarding all suppliers in the chain as one organisation of several departments. Supply chain integration begins with supplier raw materials through to the end product reaching the consumer without delays, increases in cost, or poor customer experience. If you think about an LCV getting to the customer, the process from vehicle manufacturing to conversion to delivery is a convoluted path with many pitfalls along the way. It is crucial that all suppliers within the chain are process savvy, internally and externally, and strive to provide the end user with a memorable experience.
What are the critical elements for successful supply chain integration?
RR: The SG Fleet and Mediafleet relationship exists because our processes align to deliver end user desired goals. There are, however, certain requirements from suppliers for this to work successfully. I could talk about these, but, as a change to the usual approach, it might be more useful to look at the ‘barriers’ to successful integration instead.
IB: I believe the ‘number one’ barrier is a ‘lack of knowledge’. This is a big topic as this drawback could be across one element or several. The suppliers we work with fully understand the market and its intricacies, have a working relationship with the main players in the automotive industry, have a thorough understanding of their own market, and are experts in delivering the very best products and services within their sector. Our relationship with Mediafleet has gone from strength to strength as their service is hard to beat.
RR: The ‘working relationship’ across supply chain partners is crucial. There has to be a positive chemistry. If there is a clash of personalities, or the relationship is damaged through doubts creeping in surrounding competency and/or attitude, the relationship will fail. As a consequence, the efficiencies will drop, and the end user suffers. Not acceptable.
IB: IT solutions play a very important part. Transparency regarding project progress is crucial. IT has a big part to play in project tracking and information distribution.
RR: A ‘lack of communication’ across supply chain partners is an obvious roadblock. It is important that all information, good or bad, is disseminated efficiently across the supply chain so that action can be taken to keep the project on track.
IB: Business plans vary from business to business which is to be expected. But the goals within a business plan can vary significantly. At SG Fleet we are only interested in working with supply chain partners where the goals revolve around providing the end user with the best experience possible. Organisations that have other goals for profit improvement, such as cost cutting, poor service support, inferior raw materials et cetera, do not align with SG Fleet. We work with organisations that are committed to quality improvement across the board resulting in decreasing costs, increased productivity, and higher profit levels.
Barnaby Smith, managing director of Mediafleet stated: