Adoption of Agile Project Methodology in Supply Chain Management

Adoption of Agile Project Methodology in Supply Chain Management

For any business, an important KPI is profitability. Across the value chain, processes are developed and perfected to enhance productivity and profitability.  One such attempt is to adopt Agile project methodology in supply chain management.
In Agile methodology, there is a continuous iteration of development and testing throughout the software development life cycle. It has the following advantages:

  1. High customer satisfaction
  2. Change requirements even in late development
  3. Operational efficiency

Supply chain management in simple terms is the last mile delivery of man, material and services on time and of quality. A well-known SCM model used is the SCOR model that comprises five components: Plan, Source, Make, Deliver and Return. 
Short-term delivery planning is one of the challenges telecom industry faces. This leads to stress on the supply chain and eventually on customer satisfaction. To overcome these challenges, we have adopted the top three principles of Agile project methodology in the ‘Deliver process.

  1. Interactions vs Processes: Like software development where requirements change dynamically, even in operations, customer’s material demands change rapidly. The ideal time to get the material request is six weeks before; however, the request is given three weeks before.

How?

  1. CT Market Operations head begins his day with a Gemba walk to the sales team/decision makers to get first-hand information of new/change in requests.
  2. He then has a face-to-face standup meeting with risk manager, customer supply and order management teams to discuss the requests, issues, and arrives at a mitigation plan (like Agile release train of SaFe).
  3. When demands are uneven, he interacts periodically with Hardware (Factory) Supply Chain for demand alignment with customer delivery requirement and with distribution management to plan for goods movement from factories to hubs to customers.
  1. Documentation vs Development - One of the Catch 22 situations software developers face is the effort to invest in documentation. In a turbulent environment, requirements change during the coding phase, which requires the updating of all documents. A similar challenge exists for Operations to cater to uneven demands in a complex project delivery.

How ?

  1. During peak delivery period, Operations team sits with all stakeholders in a war room (a conference room), interact with field teams and suppliers to discuss the ground issues and mitigation plan. All are captured on chart papers. Photo is sent to all.  (like burn up/down charts in Agile/Scrum Project management).
  2. Minutes are captured for action items that need to be discussed at a later point.
  3. Effort is saved in making documents. Effort saved is ~70% vis-à-vis the traditional approach.
  1. Customer Collaboration vs Contract Negotiation

One critical element to enhance customer satisfaction is to interweave with the decision makers in the customer organisation.
How ?

  1. CT MO head has a 3 hour face-to-face weekly meeting with the customers.
  2. He goes prepared with predicted escalations, a mitigation plan, demand plans, component shortages, internal challenges, etc.
  3. During the meeting, he is keen to listen for escalations and for business loss, new business opportunity. Agility is brought in to address during the meeting itself. Picking up early signals of new/change in business enables transforming the information to delivery plans. (like team and technical agility in SaFe).

Results accomplished 

  1. High Customer Perceived value
  2. Partner of the year award
  3. Highest sites deployed

 

References:
http://sajie.journals.ac.za/pub/article/download/743/559
https://www.guru99.com/agile-scrum-extreme-testing.html
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Agile_software_development
https://www.scaledagileframework.com/
http://www.clariostechnology.com/productivity/blog/burnupvsburndownchart
 
This article is written by Susila Cherla, alumnus from PGP Co 13 and Business Operations Manager at Nokia. Susila is a member of Manufacturing & Operations SIG. The article is co-authoured by Ravi Kant, Head of Market Operations Customer Team, Bharti.