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Friday, June 25, 2004

Collaboration: The supply chain reaction via silicon.com

Modern supply chains are highly complex systems. The proliferation of just-in-time manufacturing and stock minimisation strategies means that companies all along the supply chain need to accurately forecast demand to meet supply. It's for these reasons supply chain management (SCM) systems became so de rigueur during the 1990s.Optimising the supply chain does not cease at SCM, however. Increasingly, collaborative working tools are helping to find even more efficiencies.The most successful supply chain initiatives have tended to be driven by the largest player in the value chain. According to Nikos Drakos, research director at market analyst house Gartner: "The relationship is often uneven and there is usually one dominant partner and they will insist that processes are done a specific way. Their partners have to accept the terms of engagement if they want to work with them."Among other things, collaboration helps retailers and suppliers accurately judge their stock requirements and forecasts.The next step up from collaborative forecasting is vendor-managed inventory, an approach being adopted by many big retailers. "The technology is straightforward, but changing the business process is difficult," says Bamber. "There is the very real issue of trust, because you are exposing commercially confidential and very valuable information to your suppliers." Collabaration adds a new dimension in enhancing the capability of supply chain solutions - come to think of it from a process perspective, collabaration is anyway always a key element of supply chain planning. technology enablers are beginning to be made widely available to support this and innovative use of these tools are beginning to get reported.
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