Mark Bayley, EOH Technology Consulting says South African businesses need to ensure that they are well positioned to compete in the global supply chain arena by adopting competitive supply chain practices 

Few South African businesses can profess to be truly global with the right blend of centralised planning, decentralised decision making, worldwide common processes and integrated information technologies.
This is according to Mark Bayley, divisional director of EOH Technology Consulting.
He says that to effectively compete in the global arena critical success factors include successfully leveraging supply chain efficiencies, ensuring cost effective international movement of goods and services, effective management of information, and optimising a widely-dispersed supplier and customer base.
While location-specific advantages such as skilled labour, lower wages, lower cost of raw materials and lower overheads prompt companies to move production and sourcing overseas, South African businesses need to ensure that they are well positioned to compete in the global supply chain arena by adopting competitive supply chain practices.
Simple in theory, Bayley says in practise it does become trickier. Managing today’s global supply chain involves co-ordinating and integrating a complex network of suppliers, outsourced manufacturers, third-party providers, sub-contractors, distributors and customers.
Located around the globe, the objective is to extract efficiencies from all to create true value for the end customer.
Bayley says the challenge is to build robust supply chains capable of flexibly responding to changes faster than competitors. In addition, he believes it also needs to seamlessly address different customer segments in varying geographies with diverse sets of products and services, cost-effectively.
“In a marketplace characterised by a rapid proliferation of products and new technologies, delighting customers and at the same time responding to investor pressures, can be tenuous,” he says.
“This has resulted in many companies adopting a virtual supply chain model consisting of a network of outsource arrangements to multiple third parties.”
While this approach can work, Bayley says that when companies collaborate with partners they need to ensure that all processes are co-ordinated to deliver a transparent and seamless service. Customers care more about cost, customisation and service than who actually sells and delivers the products.
He says IT has become the differentiator in competitively managing a multi-organisational supply chain with a network of partners focused on delivering products and services to meet customer requirements.
Bayley adds that advanced forecasting, planning and scheduling tools have become strategically important in maximising the performance of supply chain networks.
A well-designed solution linking forecasting, scheduling and planning tools to an organisations ERP system can substantially impact levels of customer service, improve inventory turns, decrease costs, increase throughput and substantially impact output, without investment in capital equipment.
Deploying performance dashboards can allow senior executives to track supply chain performance against the operating plan and boardroom metrics, ensuring optimum performance across the global supply chain.
“This effectively becomes the source of true competitive advantage in industry,” Bayley says.