Evidently, some chemical companies have work to do before they can say that they have adopted supply chain best practices. That's a major finding of a study by the consulting firm Accenture, which surveyed 400 supply chain professionals at 150 chemical businesses in Europe, North America, South America, the Middle East, and Asia. Nearly two-thirds of those survey respondents said their companies had no formal processes in place for identifying and sharing their supply chain best practices.
Not only do those companies lack formal procedures for sharing information, only 11 percent of survey respondents said that best practices are documented, translated into standard operating procedures, and measured at their companies. Even worse, only 4 percent said their companies have collected information about best practices in a single place and made them available to all supply chain professionals within their organizations.
Companies would be better off if they shared best practices, said Christopher Lange, study author and senior executive in Accenture's Chemicals Practice, in a statement announcing the study's results. "While companies have traditionally looked at the supply chain as a way to cut costs, they now look at it as a strategic and financially important part of the business and a way to generate value and revenue," he said. "In a competitive global landscape, sharing best practices will be critical to increasing performance."
On a positive note, the 2007 study did indicate that supply chain professionals at chemical companies are doing better at collaborating and communicating with customers than they were two years ago, when a similar survey was conducted. In fact, the researchers learned that the percentage of supply chain professionals who said they collaborate and communicate with customers to make sales forecasts has more than tripled in the past two years, from just 7 percent in 2005 to 24 percent in 2007.
Even though the study indicated that supply chain education is more prevalent across the chemicals industry today than it was two years ago, most professionals do not think they are getting enough training. The number of respondents who received no training at all decreased significantly, from 78 percent in 2005 to just 11 percent this year, but only 29 percent said they were satisfied with their current level of professional education.
Lange emphasized that education is essential to driving further supply chain improvements. "Companies have invested in improving their supply chains, but if their training is ineffective or informal, their professionals will lack the high level of knowledge and skills needed to drive value and sustain the changes they're looking for," he said. "Training is important because it enables supply chain professionals to examine their company's practices and performance and identify opportunities for improvement."
[Source: "2007 Global Chemical Industry Best Practices Study and Assessment," Accenture, www.scmstudies.com]