To the buttons

Companies in the supply chain are becoming more and more dependent on third parties. They outsource  more and more production to contract companies. At Apple, it has gone so far that the entire supply chain has been outsourced to Foxconn of Taiwan. With that it has lost its grip, with child labour and large scale bribes being the result. On top of that production companies hand over the distribution of products to logistical service providers and also let them perform more and more services.

Also, without a good IT system the processes in the supply chain don’t always run as they should. Choosing the right IT vendor is therefore crucial. I was curious to know if supply chain directors look primarily at the software functionality or at the supplier/implementation partner when choosing a package so I asked a few. Their opinions were noticeably divided.

I believe many companies look too often at the buttons. Many analysts and consultants also offer thick and expensive reports with all sorts of views on software functionality. Remarkably, authors of these reports pay little attention to references about software packages, probably because it is too much work to keep up with companies which use certain software satisfactorily.

If I’m choosing a car I’m really not interested in all the possible options. My previous car could automatically parallel park itself at the touch of a button; with my hands free I just had to give it some throttle. I used this function, which was included in the package option, just once. For me, a test drive and the reliability of the make of car is much more important than all the buttons.

Not long ago I drove a Porsche Panamera for a day together with Roel van Driel, VP Supply Chain of Philips Healthcare. At the end of the test drive I questioned the functionality of this sports car. But  Roel, as an owner of a Porsche immediately began to talk about the brand experience and the visible  attention to quality during a visit to the factory  in Zuffenhausen. Watch out that when you’re choosing an IT system that you don’t blindly look at the buttons without focusing on the functionality.

Martijn Lofvers, Publishing Director & Chief Editor, Supply Chain Magazine