By Nick Gasse, TraceLink Blog Contributor
TraceLink Agile Process Teams for Supply Chain Issue Management (APT-SCIM) provides a digital foundation for continuous process improvement through methodologies such as Six Sigma DMAIC by creating a systematic approach to collecting the data required to identify supply chain processes that need to be improved.
- The Six Sigma DMAIC approach enables companies to reduce supply chain business process and product quality defects.
- APT-SCIM aligns with Six Sigma DMAIC to create a systematic approach to continuous improvement.
Continuous improvement methodologies such as Six Sigma, Lean, and Lean Six Sigma have been used for years to improve internal business processes. For the purposes of this blog, I will focus on Six Sigma, but the following ideas apply to most continuous improvement methodologies.
Multienterprise supply chain processes have not been subject to continuous improvement projects very often because gathering the required data—which resides in several disconnected nodes across the supply chain—has traditionally been difficult. TraceLink Agile Process Teams for Supply Chain Issue Management (APT-SCIM) provides a digital foundation for continuous process improvement through methodologies such as Six Sigma DMAIC by creating a systematic approach to collecting the data required to identify supply chain processes that need to be improved.
APT-SCIM supports the five phases of Six Sigma process improvement—Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control (DMAIC)—as follows:
- Define: APT-SCIM guides users through a progression of easy-to-use drop-down lists to capture a complete definition of the issue. Easily add custom values to ensure a more complete definition of business process defects.
- Measure: APT-SCIM collects quantitative and qualitative values and leverages dashboards to better understand troublesome internal processes, recurring issues, problematic partners, and the severity of issues.
- Analyze: Use issue resolution history and root cause assessments collected during the APT-SCIM incident management process to identify recurring and high impact problems.
- Improve: APT-SCIM creates comprehensive incident definitions and provides complete visibility into resolution processes, and its collaborative root cause determination capability supports process improvement projects.
- Control: Use configurable dashboards to track partner performance and the effectiveness of business processes that have been modified.
APT-SCIM’s financial impact field enables managers to assign a financial value to the issue to measure the consequences of not resolving the issue. With this rigorous definition and quantification of the issue, APT-SCIM supports the first two steps in the Six Sigma methodology—define and measure. The system also builds a history of issues, resolutions, root causes, and recurring problems which enables more measurement and analysis to support the third step of Six Sigma: analyze.
The recurring problems and issues with high financial impact discovered during the analyze step are good targets for process improvement projects. APT-SCIM also enables teams to easily collaborate with supply chain partners during the resolution processes, further enriching the information collected. This information helps teams determine the corrective and preventive actions (CAPA) that must be developed to improve the process, supporting the “improve” step of Six Sigma.
Once processes are improved, APT-SCIM provides real-time dashboards to monitor the improved processes and help teams ensure that same issues do not recur. For process improvements that impact multiple supply chain partners, the process network capability of APT-SCIM enables precise monitoring of a group of supply chain partners. This supports the final step of Six Sigma DMAIC: control.
Benefits of combining Six Sigma DMAIC with APT-SCIM
Left unresolved, even the smallest issues can snowball and lead to greater supply chain consequences and disruptions. Combining the Six Sigma DMAIC methodology with APT-SCIM’s systematic approach to issue management improves the ability of supply chain teams to resolve issues immediately. APT-SCIM also helps teams to significantly reduce the total number of supply chain issues and the disruptions they cause.
With this powerful combination, organizations using APT-SCIM have reduced supply chain disruptions by as much as 97%. The result is a more agile and resilient supply chain that suppliers and other trade partners are enthusiastic about participating in. Most importantly, with a more agile supply chain and fewer disruptions, APT-SCIM users were able to improve customer delivery performance by 82%.