From left: KPMG in Sri Lanka Managing Partner Reyaz Mihular, Piramal Glass Ceylon Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Tiwari, John Keells Logistics CEO Senath Jayatilake, Lankem Ceylon Director – Supply Chain Rajeeve Goonetileke and KPMG Supply Chain Advisory Manager Thisara Watawana
To provide insights on upgrading the supply chain to gain valuable competitive advantage and match customer expectations, the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) – UK’s Sri Lanka Branch, in association with KPMG, hosted a knowledge sharing forum, themed ‘Embracing the New Customer: Demand Driven Supply Chain’.
Setting the platform for discussion, Thisara Watawana presented key points around aligning the supply chain with the business, improving supply chain visibility, instilling flexibility and agility, organising for success and addressing customer segments.
Watawana pointed that technology may be the enabler, but its customers, and their rising expectations, are the real stimulus behind a demand-driven supply chain. He stated that, “There is increasing evidence of the link between customer experience, profitability and market share, hence customer experience is becoming undeniably more important, yet many companies lack responsive supply chains that can continually adjust to fluctuating customer requirements.” He further stated that many supply chain initiatives focus primarily on cost reduction and efficiency, rather than on areas such as order times and accuracy which are vital for customer satisfaction and experience.
The presentation was followed by an interactive panel discussion comprising Piramal Glass Ceylon PLC Chief Operating Officer Sanjay Tiwari, John Keells Logistics Ltd. Chief Executive Officer Senath Jayatilake, Lankem Ceylon PLC Director – Supply Chain Rajeeve Goonetileke, Manager KPMG, Supply Chain Advisory Thisara Watawana and moderated by KPMG in Sri Lanka Managing Partner Reyaz Mihular.
Supply chains are faced with rising complexity, where market dynamics are changing, with increased competition, expanding product range and a growing number of markets and customer segments. Hence a clearer understanding of different customer segments is vital for supply chains. Commenting on addressing customer segments, Tiwari pointed out that the customer is often overlooked by supply chains, and it is vital that supply chains understand who their customers are, what are their unmet needs, and are they delighting their customers?
He added that organisations armed with a more reliable understanding of the customer through the use of technology to capture and analyse data, can feed decisions such as what to produce, in what quantity, how much to store and when to deliver effectively. He stressed the importance of right skilled manpower and the need for it to be driven from the top management.
Mihular added that, “Companies have invested huge amounts in very sophisticated ERP Systems, however when we drilled down, the effective usage of the power of the system is
about 25%-30%.” He added that the vast amount of disparate and unstructured data available to an organisation can be overwhelming and getting the right information from the data captured is one of the key issues to be addressed.
Responding to a question on how organisations can better collaborate despite challenges in ‘complete visibility’ across suppliers and logistics partners, Goonetileke pointed that the key challenge initially is cross-functional collaboration, as it is vital to ensure that decision-makers in different parts of the supply chain first communicate with each other and make decisions in the best interests of the wider organisation and then go beyond. He further stated that, “Leadership plays an important part of driving from the top to maintain awareness of the value that supply chain decisions bring to companies.”
Jayatilake stated that the Sri Lankan companies are lagging behind in supply chain, because they don’t see value in joining platforms, which is a problem. Hence aligning the supply chain with the wider corporate strategy is vital, specially in large, complex organisational structures, and with many different supply chain stakeholders, companies should work towards a common goal.
The growing need for omnichannel strategies will make supply chains considerably more complex, as companies seek to satisfy customers online, by phone, and via retail and other physical locations.
In conclusion, the panellists unanimously agreed that practitioners of a demand led supply chain are gaining essential competitive advantage, by recognising the holistic, and technologically advanced, nature of tomorrow’s supply chains.
Commenting on the event, President CMI, Sri Lanka branch, Malraj B. Kiriella stated, “All knowledge sharing events initiated by CMI are designed to equip CMI’s managers with the best possible knowledge and skills to help them lead a highly effective and motivated workforce. As such in future CMI will be continuing such programs so that Sri Lankan managers will enhance their knowledge and reach the pinnacle in their respective disciplines.”
The Chartered Management Institute (CMI), which has over 90,000 members in the United Kingdom as well as in other branches and chapters across the globe works with individual managers to help them achieve enhanced results through the development of increased professionalism and management practices to support them in their day to day work routines.