By John Bermudez, Vice President of Product Marketing
A unique capability called process networks enables managers to group supply chain partners with the most problems to enable more precise tracking on dashboards. Supply chain partners with the most issues are a good place to look for repeat deviations.
One of the fastest ways to reduce the total number of issues impacting your supply chain is to identify repeat deviations. Repeat deviations may be originating with a problematic supply chain partner, may be related to the complexity of the process they are executing on your behalf, or it may be originating from one of your processes that is sending bad information to one or more internal manufacturing sites or out to external supply chain partners. The key to identifying repeat deviations is a systematic approach to capturing the original issue with a complete description to determine the root cause while maintaining an adequate history to provide the data for follow-on analysis. The ad hoc email and spreadsheet-based processes that many companies currently use to track and resolve issues are not adequate for the following reasons:
- Email issue descriptions feature unstructured information, and are usually incomplete and do not capture the resolution process at all.
- No history of issues or resolutions is retained to provide the institutional learning that is critical to identifying repeat deviations.
- There is no capture of the root cause from the subject matter experts who resolved the issue.
- The issue reporting process is cumbersome and unknown to most employees, which means many issues go unreported until they become chronic problems.
- Unstructured and inefficient resolution processes consume valuable resources and leave no time for continuous improvement projects to eliminate repeat deviations.
Agile Process Teams for Supply Chain Issue Management (APT-SCIM) provides an efficient and structured process to address these shortcomings in current issue management processes to enable supply chain teams to reduce repeat deviations. APT-SCIM collects a wealth of data while streamlining the issue resolution process. Do what you are already doing to resolve issues—but faster—because with APT-SCIM, you are not starting with a blank email but with a rich set of drop-down lists that help users quickly and accurately describe the issue. More complete issue definitions make it easier to determine repeat deviations.
Root cause designations enable subject matter experts to contribute their knowledge to get beyond the symptoms of an issue to identify the actual cause. This will lead to the discovery of repeat deviations that might initially have different symptoms. For example, a late shipment and a material shortage are initially reported differently and have a different resolution process. The root cause may be lead times that are not set properly for a parent product. This can result in a late shipment because plant processing time exceeds lead time for the final assembly. Or, this can result in material shortages because sub-tier components were not ordered in time to be sent to a contract manufacturer.
The APT-SCIM Monitor Incidents dashboard enables managers to identify supply chain partners with the most open incidents and drill down to do a visual inspection for repeating issues. A unique capability called process networks enables managers to group supply chain partners with the most problems to enable more precise tracking on dashboards. Supply chain partners with the most issues are a good place to look for repeat deviations.
While visual inspection may uncover some repeat deviations, the best practice is to use a continuous improvement methodology such as DMAIC Six Sigma to analyze accumulated issue history data from APT-SCIM to identify repeat deviations. These repeat deviations can be assigned to process improvement teams. Business impact and financial impact designations captured during the resolution process can be used to prioritize these projects.
In one case study, a TraceLink customer used APT-SCIM to track and resolve business process and quality defects. The company assigned teams of subject matter experts to the 50 suppliers with the most issues to begin the process to uncover repeat deviations. At the beginning of the APT-SCIM deployment, they determined that they were operating slightly below the Four Sigma level with 8.4K defects (issues) per million (DPM). DPM is a key metric to measure DMAIC Six Sigma process improvements. By methodically logging these defects, collaboratively resolving issues, and executing DMAIC process improvement projects over a four-year period, they achieved the Five Sigma level with 200 DPM—a 96% reduction in DPM. In addition to reducing the total number of issues, they also reduced repeat deviations by 50%.