martes, 20 de julio de 2010

Cadena de Suministro en tiempos de crisis

¿Está su Cadena de Suministro preparada para ser manejada en tiempos difíciles y posicionarse en un rebote de la economía? La economía mundial ha estado experimentando una de las peores crisis financieras desde la Gran Depresión de los años treinta del siglo XX. La crisis que fue originada en los Estados Unidos y los principales factores causantes fueron los altos precios de las materias primas, la sobrevaluación del producto y la crisis crediticia e hipotecaria, terminó afectando la confianza de los mercados y las economías a nivel mundial.

En el caso Latinoamericano, el auge económico que se experimentó entre el 2003 y el 2007, basado en una combinación inusual de auge financiero, bonanza excepcional de precios de las materias primas y altas remesas de trabajadores, también había llegado a su fin. Ya para el 2008 varias economías de la región experimentaron una desaceleración importante, entre ellas México, Colombia, Venezuela y casi todas las economías de Centro America y el Caribe.

La abundancia de financiamiento que se redujo a finales del 2007, coincidió con la primera fase de la crisis financiera de los Estados Unidos. A mediados de 2008 se inicio la caída de precios de productos básicos. Pero fue el colapso financiero mundial de Septiembre de 2008 el que desencadenó los cambios más profundos, al paralizar el crédito, elevar drásticamente los márgenes de riesgo y transformar la caída a un desplome de los precios de materias primas, desencadenando una recesión profunda en el mundo industrializado. Aún las economías latinoamericanas que habían mantenido un alto e incluso creciente dinamismo hasta el tercer trimestre de 2008, como Brasil y Perú, se estrellaron contra la pared.

El índice industrial de DOW Jones cayó un 50%, pasando de Enero del 2008 de 12,735 a 6,600 en Marzo del 2009, esto generó un efecto cascada a las compañías, individuos y entidades financieras.

Toda esta situación generó lo que parecía ser una tormenta perfecta donde los elementos de incertidumbre, volatilidad y presión para reducir los costos se encontraron en un solo momento. Esta crisis que comenzó en el sector de servicios financiero traspasó sus fronteras y golpeó fuertemente al sector de manufactura y consumo.

Uno de los principales indicadores utilizado por el sector de manufactura y consumo para medir la salud de la economía es el JPMorgan Global Manufacturing PMI (Purchasing Manager Index) que se basa en la medición de 5 sub-indicadores con un ponderación específica que se muestra a continuación:

  • Nivel de Producción (.25)
  • Nuevos Pedidos (Clientes) (.30)
  • Entrega de Proveedores – (Cómo están siendo ejecutadas más rápido o lentas) (.15)
  • Inventarios (.10)
  • Nivel de Empleados (.20)

Como se puede ver en esta gráfica, el PMI tuvo una caída a mediados del 2007 y una acelerada baja a finales del 2008 donde básicamente se puede interpretar que hubieron cambios significativos que impactaron al sector de manufactura en cuanto a pedidos de cliente (demanda), inventario y capacidad de producción.

Para finales del 2008 el PMI cerro con una medición de 33.2. El número mágico para este indicador es por encima de 50 donde generalmente indica que el sector de manufactura esta en crecimiento y que la economía en general debería estar bien. Muchos economistas ajustan sus estimados de PIB después de revisar el reporte de PMI. Otro número importante para recordar de este indicador es 42, donde cualquier lectura por encima es considerada como un benchmark para determinar el crecimiento del PIB. Mientras más alto sea el nivel entre 42 y 50 más fuerte puede ser el crecimiento de la economía. Si el número está por debajo de 42, una recesión en la economía puede estar a la vuelta de la esquina.

A inicios del 2009 las empresas en el sector de manufactura entraron en modo sobrevivencia focalizándose en la reducción de costos y en la postergación o cancelación de nuevas iniciativas. Sin embargo durante este período muchas empresas fueron más estratégicas y trataron de conseguir un balance entre cortar costos y realizar inversiones puntuales en áreas que le pudieran asegurar un éxito futuro.

Con una crisis económica y una alta volatilidad de los mercados, las empresas de manufactura se enfrentaron en el 2009 con una realidad distinta al modelo tradicional de planificar al inicio del año y ejecutar, principalmente por la no existencia de un modelo estadístico que le permitiera pronosticar el comportamiento de la demanda futura y que adicional a esto considerara la incertidumbre que manejaba el mercado y los violentos cambios que se presentaron a nivel del comportamiento del consumidor.

Se necesitaba más que nunca que las cadenas de suministros estuviesen preparadas para lo inesperado, que fueran los suficientemente flexibles y que además permitieran sentir cualquier cambio y adaptarse como nunca antes.

La adaptabilidad de las cadenas de suministro paso a primer plano como uno de los principales diferenciadores de las empresas de manufactura. Como bien lo expreso Charles Darwin en su ley general sobre El Origen de las Especies, donde extraigo parte de su enunciado: “Aquellos miembros de la población con características menos adaptadas (según lo determine su medio ambiente) morirán con mayor probabilidad. Entonces aquellos miembros con características mejor adaptadas sobrevivirán más probablemente.”

Hoy en día las empresas de manufactura necesitan percibir los cambios en la forma como van ocurriendo y responder de forma inmediata. Es necesario sentir en tiempo real los cambios o desviaciones en la demanda causados por eventos internos y/o externos, y responder a esas desviaciones no solo internamente sino mas allá de los límites de la empresa, colaborando directamente con los distintos asociados de negocio a través de una red de suministro.

Es importante que los directores de operaciones de las empresas de manufactura se autoevalúen y respondan a las siguientes preguntas para determinar que tan adaptables son sus cadenas de suministro:

  1. ¿Puede usted tomar decisiones a tiempo con información integrada de sus procesos de planificación y ejecución?
  2. ¿Tiene visibilidad de la demanda de sus productos en cada uno de sus canales de distribución?
  3. ¿Tiene las herramientas y procesos necesarios para planificar y responder de forma rápida a cambios en la demanda?
  4. ¿Puede usted colaborar para manejar y monitorear a sus suplidores y cualquier otro asociado de negocio como si fueran parte de sus organización?
  5. ¿Puede usted monitorear a través de indicadores su planificación con los resultados en tiempo real?
  6. ¿Tiene su compañía un proceso de planificación de ventas y producción (S&OP) que esta sincronizado en todos los departamentos?
  7. ¿Tiene una infraestructura tecnológica que le permita integrar los procesos de negocio de su cadena de suministro y que adicionalmente le permita ajustar los proceso en base a eventos de oportunidad o riesgo?

Si su respuesta a la mayoría de estas interrogantes es no, muy posiblemente su cadena de suministro esta en riesgo. ¿Como ejecutivo responsable de manejar la cadena de suministro, qué puede hacer para navegar su compañía durante estos años turbulentos?. La clave está en transformar su cadena de suministro en una red de suministro donde junto a sus asociados de negocio pueda tener la destreza para replanificar y re-alinear sus objetivos basado en los distintos eventos y dinámica del negocio. Después de todo, esta capacidad de respuesta le permitirá a su empresa no solo reconocer y tomar ventaja de grandes oportunidades, sino también poder mitigar los riesgos cuando las cosas tomen un giro inesperado.

Los pilares esenciales para construir una red de suministro tiene que estar establecida en una infraestructura tecnológica que tenga la capacidad de soportar los siguientes procesos básicos de negocio: Planificar, Ejecutar, Percibir, Responder y Aprender.

Planificar y Ejecutar

La planificación es importante, pero sola no es suficiente se necesita que este interconectada a su capacidad de ejecutar. Pongamos como ejemplo el siguiente escenario, donde su compañía pronosticó como demanda para el mes de un producto en específico 200 Unidades. ¿Que sucedería si para ese producto en específico recibe ordenes por más de 400 unidades en las últimas dos semanas del mes?. En períodos de no crisis, lo más seguro es que tendría exceso de inventario que pudiese ser utilizado para completar las órdenes. Pero hoy día la realidad es otra y el mantener altos niveles de inventarios es un lujo que muchas compañías no pueden soportar.

Sin el buffer de inventario como respaldo para estos imprevistos, las compañías deben valerse en su habilidad para ejecutar y poder dar respuesta las siguientes preguntas: ¿Tiene unidades extras dentro de su red de suministro que pudiesen ser utilizadas para completar estas órdenes?, ¿Tiene la capacidad para producir estas 200 unidades adicionales, almacenarlas y despacharlas?, ¿Tiene la mano de obra para producir estas 200 unidades o tiene que trabajar sobre tiempo?. Todas estas interrogantes que no fueron planificadas deben ser aclaradas en modo ejecución y con una capacidad de respuesta en tiempo real.

Percibir y Responder a los cambios en la demanda

Ya que no puede seguir dependiendo de los buffer en los inventarios, usted necesita ser mejor percibiendo los cambios en la demanda. Usted no puede esperar hasta el último momento en el que el cliente coloque la orden para comenzar a producir. En vez, usted necesita percibir la demanda con la suficiente antelación para poder responder de forma rápida y eficiente.

¿Pero cómo puede usted percibir los cambios en la demanda con anticipación?, La respuesta a esta interrogante esta relacionada a su capacidad de colaboración con sus asociados de negocio. Usted necesita colaborar con las fuentes reales de información. Las compañías que tienen las mejores capacidades para trabajar de formar colaborativa con sus clientes, proveedores y asociados de negocio, son las compañías que mejor podrán manejar su red de suministro. Estas compañías podrán tener mayor visibilidad a los eventos y podrán detectar tendencias mas rápidamente.

Aprender

La forma más eficiente de aprender se basa en un constante monitoreo, medición y control en tiempo real de los procesos claves de negocio. Por ejemplo uno de las principales indicadores claves de desempeño (KPI) para medir la eficiencia de su cadena de suministro, es el número de veces que es rotado el inventario. Si usted rota 10 veces más lento el inventario que su competencia, su capital de trabajo será 10 veces mayor que la competencia. La rotación de inventario depende de que tan rápido puede usted procesar la información, mientras más rápido pueda procesar la información (obtener información, actuar, obtener más información, y actuar sucesivamente) mejor capacidad tendrá para competir.

¿Cómo SAP puede ayudarlo?

Para el establecimiento de la red de suministro SAP ha desarrollado una serie de escenarios de principio a fin, estos escenarios han sido desarrollados para ser implementados por pasos, basado en una tecnología abierta y estable. Cada paso a sido diseñado para generar valor a la compañía de forma tal que pueda ser medido a través de indicadores claves de desempeño. Estos escenarios se han dividido en tres grandes categorías:

Estratégicas

Estos escenarios soportan las estrategias a largo plazo que son manejadas a un alto nivel, son estrategias que son definidas de forma anual. El escenario soportado es: Estrategia y diseño de la red de suministro.

Tácticas

Estos escenarios soportan el proceso de planificación que es llevado a cabo en ciclos trimestrales y mensuales. Los escenarios soportados son:

  • Planificación colaborativa de la demanda y suministro
  • Planificación y logística de piezas de servicio
  • Ejecución de la demanda

Operacionales

Estos escenarios soportan los procesos de respuesta a los eventos que suceden en el día a día. Los escenarios soportados son:

  • Planificación y ejecución de la red de producción
  • Logística y gestión de cumplimiento
  • Trazabilidad en la red de suministro

Su compañía necesita un roadmap para alcanzar sus metas de negocio. Con SAP usted puede determinar cuales son los primeros pasos que debe emprender. Esta estrategia de implementación modular le ayudara a minimizar trastornos internos, reducir los riesgos, y manejar un presupuesto de IT ajustado a sus posibilidades.

En una economía como la actual, seguramente usted decidirá por implementar primero los escenarios que le puedan traer un rápido retorno de inversión (ROI) y beneficios a la empresa como los relacionados con la mejora en la visibilidad de su red de suministro y colaboración.

Todo pareciera indicar que este año la economía muestra signos de recuperación, el índice industrial DOW Jones supero la barrera de los 10,000 a finales del 2009. Adicionalmente, como se puede ver en la siguiente gráfica el índice JPMorgan Global Manufacturing PMI (Purchasing Manager Index) cerró para el mes de Febrero en 55.2, con un promedio en el primer trimestres hasta ahora de 55.7 mostrando un incremento con respecto al cierre del último trimestre del 2009 que contabilizó 54.2

grafica 2

La economía ha cambiado drásticamente en los últimos tres años, destacando la necesidad de la capacidad de respuesta de su cadena de suministro. Hoy día, su compañía debe ser capaz de adaptarse y reaccionar en tiempos buenos y malos.

Las soluciones SAP proporcionan una base sólida para construir escenarios de negocios innovadores y automatizar los procesos de negocio para asegurar una eficiencia operacional. De esta forma las compañías pueden confiar en SAP para ayudarlas a competir efectivamente para desarrollarse en los momentos difíciles de la economía y posicionarse para seguir creciendo durante un inevitable rebote en la economía.

miércoles, 27 de enero de 2010

Cómo rediseñar su cadena de suministro y por qué debe hacerlo

El panorama de la cadena de suministros ha cambiado drásticamente en los últimos cinco años. Pasamos de un punto de vista local a otro mundial en cuanto a la manufactura, abastecimiento, logística y clientes. De tal forma que, existen grandes retos para las redes de suministros:

1. No existen límites para la red de trabajoNo quedan límites físicos o virtuales para la cadena de suministros. Por ejemplo, el cliente puede estar en Norte América y pedir un producto por medio del Internet en Irlanda, pero ello crea un problema. ¿Por qué? cada una de las partes no está en conocimiento de las reglas y regulaciones a las cuales deben acatarse y no comprenden que una confirmación de orden del fabricante es crucial para la agenda de entregas del minorista y para el cliente final.

2. Es difícil hacer que todas las piezas del rompecabezas trabajen como unidadCada proceso dentro de la cadena de suministros debe trabajar unido. Por ejemplo, es crucial que los encargados de las bodegas conozcan la hora de llegada del envío. Si en la bodega no se sabe sobre los posibles retrasos ocasionados por la empresa de transportes, ello creará problemas de equipo y mano de obra/capacidad.

3. No ser capaz de adaptarse rápidamente a las cambiantes preferencias de los clientes Las organizaciones deben comprender los cambios que se están presentando en los requisitos de los clientes. Por ejemplo, Coca-Cola saco al mercado recientemente un nuevo producto que contiene 90 calorías para aquellos consientes de sus dietas. En este escenario, si el desarrollo de productos y procesamiento no hubiesen sido alineados para satisfacer los requisitos de los clientes, la organización pudiese perder esa porción del mercado.

Ahora, la pregunta de la duda: ¿Cómo puede una organización eliminar estos desafíos/riegos y aún tener una cadena de suministros como corresponde? La respuesta: el comercio electrónico.

El comercio electrónico se refiere a la compra y venta de servicios o productos por medio del Internet y otros medios, en los cuales se da el intercambio de datos o transacciones, como la transferencia electrónica de fondos (electronic funds transfer, EFT) o el intercambio de datos electrónicos (electronic data interchange, EDI).

El comercio electrónico dentro de la cadena de suministros contribuye a crear vínculos para cada proceso empresarial. Ello permite que las organizaciones se comuniquen y colaboren con sus socios empresariales/comerciales.

Existen beneficios al utilizar las aplicaciones basadas en el comercio electrónico:· Todas las comunicaciones al respecto de cambios en las reglas y regulaciones son comunicados entre los socios comerciales. El transportador es alertado sobre las nuevas leyes referentes al destino de la entrega o ubicación. Por ejemplo, en los Estados Unidos, el nuevo programa de seguridad conocido como “10+2 rule” ordena proveer una notificación previa del envío (advanced shipment notification, ASN) para la aduana, con 24 horas de anticipación a la llegada del embarco a las fronteras estadounidenses.

· Cualquier cambio en la demanda de un producto/servicio es comunicado instantáneamente bien sea por medio del Internet o por medio del intercambio de datos (portal, EDI, correo electrónico, etc.). Ello elimina los costos excesivos asociados con la manufactura y entrega de productos donde la demanda es baja o donde se presentan incrementos en ella.

· Conocer los niveles de inventario en las tiendas o la planta de producción es esencial para confirmar las órdenes de los clientes. Por medio del comercio electrónico, las organizaciones pueden tener una mejor visibilidad sobre los niveles de inventario, independientemente de donde está ubicado.
Todos los detalles sobre el inventario serán proveídos vía ASN o un portal para el inventario.Las organizaciones deben estar consientes de la necesidad de transición hacia el comercio electrónico, de manera tal que las siguientes consideraciones sean tenidas en cuenta:· Definir claramente cada proceso empresarial. Si los procesos empresariales no están bien definidos, de darán brechas en la cadena de suministros de su organización.

· Capacitar en la aplicación de comercio electrónico a todas las partes involucradas (interna y externamente). Si la organización no provee suficiente capacitación al personal y a los proveedores, estos crearán otras formas de llevar a cabo sus procesos evitando utilizar la aplicación, lo cual generará costos adicionales para la organización.

· Asegurar que la interface del usuario (UI, por sus siglas en inglés) para la aplicación de comercio electrónico es fácil de utilizar. Si la organización no provee a sus usuarios con la interface apropiada, tomará más tiempo procesar las transacciones ya que gran parte de este se invierte en comprender el sistema, en lugar de procesar la transacción simplemente.

Las organizaciones con una cadena de suministros integrada cosechan los beneficios de los ciclos de desarrollo más rápidos para sus productos y manejan los cambios en el mercado sin crear un fiasco para las partes involucradas. Con la ayuda de las aplicaciones para el comercio electrónico, las empresas están en capacidad de expandirse hacia mercados emergentes o existentes, y pueden racionalizar sus procesos empresariales con los de sus clientes y proveedores.

Mauricio Urrea Ospina

domingo, 22 de noviembre de 2009

El poder de la información

Consolidación, análisis y uso de la información para obtener una ventaja competitiva y alcanzar la excelencia administrativa.

El que tiene la información tiene el poder. Pero en un entorno altamente competitivo, en medio de una economía llena de altibajos y cambios radicales en el mercado, tener la información no es suficiente. Las organizaciones de hoy las cuales deben ser de categoría mundial, deben también analizarla, interpretarla y compartirla para poder tomar decisiones estratégicas oportunamente y ganar una ventaja competitiva. Por lo tanto, quien tiene la información y sabe cómo utilizarla, realmente tiene el poder.

Al mismo tiempo, es imperativo que la información no quede en manos de unos cuantos. Es cierto que a algunas personas no le gusta compartirla, pero hacerlo es vital. Se requiere cambiar la percepción del valor que se le da en todos los niveles de las organizaciones - desde el director general, hasta los gerentes de los distintos departamentos que las integran.

Las empresas que lo han hecho tienen un acceso más amplio a los datos bajo la premisa de que la gente indicada tenga acceso a la información adecuada. Actualmente existe la tecnología avanzada para asegurar y controlar dicho acceso, así como ofrecer control y seguridad. Por lo tanto, la tecnología no es un inhibidor para lograr esto; sin embargo, aún existen organizaciones que se muestran renuentes, en particular en América Latina, donde la resistencia al cambio – operativo y cultural – ha sido un distintivo durante varios años.

¿Quién tiene acceso a la información en su empresa? ¿Se toman las decisiones adecuadas? ¿Son sus procesos de negocio efectivos para tomar mejores decisiones y obtener mejores resultados? ¿Su sistema de planeación de recursos empresariales (ERP) ofrece una visión amplia de sus operaciones y ayuda a obtener una ventaja competitiva? Sin duda, son preguntas que se hacen a diario en todo el mundo. Las respuestas no siempre están alineadas con sus planes estratégicos, y es cuando se dan cuenta de la importancia de utilizar tecnologías que les pueden ayudar a alcanzar la excelencia administrativa y enfrentar los embates económicos y de la competencia.

Es en este punto donde debemos tener la cadena de suministro balanceada y comunicada en nuestro ERP y para lograrlo debemos medirla de principio a fin con indicadores como:

- Indicadores de utilización, rendimiento y productividad
- Indicadores de costos operativos y financieros
- Indicadores de cumplimiento (tiempo)
- Indicadores de calidad de los procesos logísticos
- Indicadores de productividad y rendimiento
- Indicadores de compras, inventarios, almacenamiento
- Indicadores de transporte de carga y distribución
- Indicadores de servicio al cliente y logística inversa

La medición de desempeño es una preocupación fundamental de la alta gerencia. cuando satisfacen las expectativas de los grupos de interés (efectividad) y cuando maximizan la utilización de losRecursos disponibles (eficiencia), entonces la medición del desempeño es realmente la medición del éxito actual y la probabilidad de continuar produciendo resultados exitosos.

Tipos de Indicadores:
Expertos en sistemas de indicadores balanceados como Norton y Kaplan (The Balanced Scorecard) y en ventajas competitivas (M. Porter) enfatizan 4 factores críticos de competitividad:
Las empresas compiten con base en:

sus costos, eficiencia en uso de sus recursos, velocidad de acceso a los mercados, y en la calidad de sus productos, servicios y procesos.Estos elementos de competitividad determinan los tipos de indicadores y las actividades a considerar en la medición de desempeño.
Es así como consideramos 4 dimensiones de la medición del desempeño:

•Indicadores Financieros (costo de los recursos)
•Indicadores de productividad (eficiencia en el uso de los recursos)
•Indicadores de Tiempo (velocidad en el proceso)
•Indicadores de Calidad (errores cometidos en el proceso)

Estos tipos de indicadores determinan el grado de balance de la medición de desempeño de la cadena de suministro.

Los indicadores de desempeño tienen que considerar los contextos en los cuales se desarrollan las actividades y procesos a medir. No existen indicadores generales que funcionen para toda la organización. Deben adaptarse a diferentes contextos de operación de acuerdo con las decisiones que se pretendan tomar en cada uno de ellos.

Estos indicadores deben considerarse como un todo y para cada uno de los 3 procesos que la componen: gerencia de demanda, gerencia de abastecimientos, gerencia del fulfillment, Gerencia financiera .

Esto es una visión de contexto de los indicadores de Desempeño
Otras alternativas mediciones en diferentes contextos como:

• Individuo, Equipo, Departamento Funcional, Proyecto, División Geográfica, cadena de suministro Etc.


Mauricio Urrea Ospina.

sábado, 10 de octubre de 2009

Evolución de la cadena de suministro

Una empresa competitiva requiere herramientas que le permitan incrementar su productividad. El manejo de la cadena de suministros es una de estas herramientas, que conjuntamente con otros sistemas y una base sólida de principios y metas, permiten a la empresa llegar a verdaderos ahorros económicos y a prestar servicios sin precedentes. Las tecnologías de información existentes hoy en día y la globalización de los mercados, permiten que dichos procesos puedan ser instaurados más fácil y económicamente en la empresa. La base de la cadena de suministros se fundamenta también en principios relacionales; es imprescindible conocer a todos quienes conforman nuestro círculo de negocios, y a partir de ello y conjuntamente con una planeación estratégica, implantar los distintos sistemas de manejo de información y procesos, entre ellos la cadena de suministros.


Hoy en día la globalización es parte del diario vivir de las empresas, muchos son los retos y dificultades pero también las oportunidades para establecer nuevos negocios y entrar a nuevos mercados. El avance tecnológico, especialmente en la comunicación, ha generado un nuevo tipo de cliente mucho más informado y por ende más exigente y perspicaz. Ya no es necesario recorrer grandes caminos o emprender grandes búsquedas para encontrar cierto producto y sus oferentes, basta con entrar a un computador, para tener a nuestro alcance una oferta casi infinita de bienes y servicios, en todos lugar del mundo, las veinticuatro horas al día y a todos los precios imaginables.


Igualmente la proliferación de sistemas de información, nos ha llevado a un mercado más competitivo, donde las empresas han establecido la eficiencia como el objetivo principal, y la estrategia: “brindar el mejor producto y/o servicio, al mejor precio posible y con los costos más bajos”


TECNOLOGÍAS EN EL MANEJO DE LA CADENA DE SUMINISTROS

La cadena de suministros forman parte de un todo en la compañía, y requieren de una infraestructura conjunta que permita el intercambio de información entre todas las áreas de la empresa.Un sistema efectivo de manejo de cadena de suministros generalmente esta integrado a un sistema ERP (Enterprise Resource Planning), que a la vez conecta todas las áreas de la empresa.
De esta forma es posible lograr un flujo correcto y veraz de datos e información tanto para los proveedores, clientes y la compañía en sí.


La evolución de la cadena de suministros:

Los niveles evolutivos de la cadena de suministros se mueven metódicamente hacia el modelo óptimo de negocios que tiene sentido para la compañía y sus circunstancias. Estos niveles, junto con sus principales características, se detallan a continuación.


Nivel 1: Interno/Funcional

- Se enfoca en la obtención de los suministros y/o materias primas y en la logística.

- Concentrado en necesidades internas y en la eficiencia de las unidades de negocios.

- No existe sinergia organizacional.

- Existe casi nula cooperación entre las distintas unidades internas.

- El ahorro proviene al reducir costos de logística, transporte y bodegaje.

- Presencia de Sistemas de Gestión de Transporte (TMS) y Sistemas de Gestión de
Almacenamiento (WMS).

- Una empresa que se mueve en este nivel puede aumentar su porcentaje de ganancias de 1 a 1.5 %.


Nivel 2: Interno/Funcional-Cruzado

- Se enfoca en la excelencia interna.

- Se rompen las murallas y comienza la integración intra-empresarial.

- La empresa se mantiene concentrada en su interior.

- Las distintas unidades de negocios empiezan a comunicarse entre sí para dar paso a la
colaboración.

- Utilización de software para mejorar la planificación y programación de ventas y operaciones.

- La empresa segmenta sus clientes según su importancia para ésta.

- Comienzan a aparecer métricas relativas a la satisfacción de los clientes.- Utilización de una intranet destinada a compartir información dentro de la organización.

- Presencia de sistemas ERP.

- El porcentaje de ganancias puede aumentar nuevamente de 1 a 1.5% en este nivel.


Nivel 3: Formación de la Red Externa

- Se enfoca en el cliente mediante la colaboración de partners seleccionados, aunque aún se
realizan esfuerzos para mejorar la parte interna.

- Se comienza a utilizar una extranet para comunicarse con los partners.

- La perspectiva de la empresa cambia al percatarse de que es solo una parte de la red de
empresas que componen el mercado.

- Surgen conexiones ERP-to-ERP.

- Presencia de sistemas VMI y CRP.

- El porcentaje de ganancias puede aumentar en un 2 %.


Nivel 4: Cadena de Valor Externa

- Se enfoca en el cliente con los partners y se establece sincronización inter-empresarial.

- Tecnología usada como una pieza clave para el mejoramiento.

- La empreza comienza a moverse a una posición de liderazgo dentro de la industria donde se
empieza a formar una "constelación" de cadenas de valor.

- La compañía es ahora una parte de una red de compañías que representan la cadena de valor
de principio a fin.

- Se busca la externalización de las etapas de la cadena de suministros, a través de los
componentes más capaces.

- La empresa centra sus esfuerzos en el grupo de consumidores finales.

- La cadena de suministros se transforma en una cadena de valor.

- En este nivel las empresas trabajan colaborativamente con proveedores, distribuidores y
clientes para construir nuevos modelos de negocios orientados al consumo final.

- Nuevamente se logra un aumento de un 2% en las ganancias al alcanzar este nivel.


Nivel 5: Conectividad Completa de la Red

- Se enfoca en la ciber-tecnología como el facilitador de la cadena de valor para lograr la
optimización de la red.

- Este nivel de progreso es más teórico debido a que son muy pocas las empresas que alcanzan
tal nivel de desarrollo.

- Se logra un nivel tal de conectividad que todas las transacciones más importantes son visibles
en forma online.

- La información vital entre los partners se comparte electrónicamente.

- Se logra la total visibilidad de la cadena de suministros, los inventarios se pueden consultar en
tiempo real y los errores se reducen a niveles mínimos.

- La oportunidad de crear ahorros mientras se generan nuevos ingresos es posible para todas las
partes en la cadena de valor.

- El aumento en el porcentaje de ganancias puede alcanzar hasta un 8 %.


Mauricio Urrea O.

Que es APICS?

• Fundada en 1957 como la Asociación Americana de Controlde Producción e Inventarios (American Production and InventoryControl Society)

• APICS ha expandido desde entonces su enfoque paraofrecer una gama de programas de educación para individuosy organizaciones, estándares de excelencia, y administraciónintegral de recursos.

• Para reflejar esta nueva dirección, ahora es conocido comoAPICS – La Asociación para la Gestión de OperacionesAPICS-The Association for Operations Management.
APICS es una organización internacional no lucrativa respetada anivel mundial por sus programas de educación y certificaciónprofesional.

• CPIM (Certified in Production and Inventory Management)• CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional)• CIRM (Certified in Integrated Resources Management)
Con mas de 60,000 miembros entre individuales y corporativos en20,000 compañías a nivel mundial. APICS esta dedicada al uso de laeducación para mejorar las organizaciones desde su base.

APICS es reconocida globalmente como:

La fuente de conocimiento por excelencia en el campo de

•Administración de Inventarios
•Administración de la Producción
•ERP’s (Enterprise Resources Planning)
•Compras•Administración de Materiales
•Logística
•Administración de Almacenes
•Administración de Cadena de Suministro
•Planeación Maestra
•Administración de la Capacidad
•Tecnología de Información

Beneficios de la Membresía APICS

• Un promedio de 20% de descuento en libros APICS,cursos, videos y ayudas de entrenamiento.

• La Conferencia y Exposición Internacional APICS ala cual han asistido un promedio de 5000 asistentesaño con año desde 1957.

• Reconocimiento, crecimiento de la carrera,incrementar la administración de proyectos, yhabilidades de trabajo en equipo, adquiridas en laparticipación del “Programa de
ReconocimientosAPICS”.

• Desarrollar habilidades en la carrera adquirida con los programasde certificación.

• Acceso total a la mejor bolsa de trabajo en internet sobreadministración de recursos. (en U.S.A)

• Las últimas técnicas y estrategias discutidas en publicaciones devanguardia (disponibles en revistas mensuales y en la página deinternet).

• Oportunidad de relaciones en el área industrial y entrenamiento através de sus más de 270
capítulos profesionales.


Mauricio Urrea O.

domingo, 20 de septiembre de 2009

The Collaboration Advantage: Customer-focused Partnerships in a Global Market

About the survey
Of the 516 executives responding to the survey, 33% came from Europe, 32% from Asia-Pacific, 28% from North America and 6% from the rest of the world. Participants represented 19 different industries, of which the top three were manufacturing, financial services and professional services. Forty-three percent of respondents' organisations had annual revenue greater than US$1bn and 44% had less than US$500m in revenue. Board members and chief executive officers (CEOs) comprised 43% of respondents. Chief financial officers (CFOs), chief technology officers (CTOs) and other C-level executives made up the remainder of the respondent panel.
Preface
The collaboration advantage: customer-focused partnerships in a global market is an Economist Intelligence Unit white paper sponsored by SAP. The Economist Intelligence Unit's editorial team conducted the survey and wrote the report, and the findings and views expressed do not necessarily reflect the views of the sponsor. Shaun Young and Alan M. Brooke contributed to the report, and Debra D'Agostino and Nigel Holloway were the editors. Danielle Noble was responsible for layout and design. Our research was based on a survey conducted in March 2008 of more than 500 business executives worldwide, as well as desk research and in-depth interviews with executives from around the world about the changing nature of business relationships, and the associated challenges and opportunities. Our thanks are due to all the survey respondents and interviewees for their time and insights.
Executive summary
In the global economy, the nature of business relationships is changing rapidly. Executives at companies of all sizes are beginning to realise the need to collaborate and partner more frequently with suppliers, customers and alliance groups and even competitors to launch new products, innovate more quickly, lower costs and improve overall customer service. The goal is to develop a network of suppliers and corporate partners that is mutually rewarding and transcends traditional business agreements, which were based largely on price negotiation.
As companies collaborate with one another the old transactional arrangements have become more complex and, in some ways, more risky. Firms now share more information with their partners than before, opening up the possibility of sensitive business data ending up in the wrong hands and creating significant issues around trust. In addition, corporate cultures may clash, as companies extend their business networks across different regions, management styles and languages. As a result, companies must think very carefully about the types of partnerships that make the most business sense, and how best to manage the development of these relationships to ensure success.
In order to better understand the opportunities, challenges, risks and rewards companies have seen from these types of agreements, the Economist Intelligence Unit conducted a survey in March 2008, sponsored by SAP, which asked 51 6 senior executives how their business relationships are evolving. The poll focused on the factors of success, the difficulties in creating closer partnerships, the terms of engagement and the relevance of technology. We also conducted interviews with senior executives, academics and industry experts. The study revealed the following key points:
Collaboration among business partners is, among other things, intended to help companies get closer to the customer. Forty-four percent of respondents say that their collaborative relationships allow them to share business processes and information with partners to better serve their customers. Only 22% of respondents whose top relationship is transactional in nature can claim the same benefit.
Two-thirds of respondents whose most vital business relationship is collaborative say their firms created or strengthened partnerships with customers in the past five years. These partnerships were not only designed to meet specific needs as they arise, but were also based on a long-term strategy to assess potential future business opportunities. Seventy-one percent of respondents whose most important business relationship is collaborative say that their business relationships are moderately or very successful in achieving expected results.
Companies are embracing collaboration both to reduce costs and to enhance revenue growth. Among the 302 respondents (59% of the total) who said their most important business relationship was collaborative (rather than transactional), one-half are focusing on using their business ties to improve their sales and distribution channels for their products and services.
Over the next five years, 31% of all survey respondents say that a cut in production costs will be the main reason for improving business relationships. In addition, 27% believe that achieving a higher sales volume will be the primary goal in improving their business partnerships.
The biggest challenge in collaborating with business partners is building trust. One-half of all respondents say that trusting corporate partners enough to share information is the toughest aspect of a new business relationship, and 64% of executives agree that strengthening personal relationships is essential in establishing trust with their business partners. The lack of trust is a particularly thorny issue in the area of information technology (IT): less than 20% of respondents are prepared to share security systems, process technology or software applications.
Technology is regarded as a key enabler of business relationships. Sixty-nine percent of survey respondents agreed that the adoption of new technologies has benefited their most important business relationships. But only 34% of respondents have upgraded their data network, and 32% have invested in new security systems to support their most important business relationships. This indicates that more work needs to be done in working with IT to make systems more open to partnerships.
Transact and collaborate
The Economist Intelligence Unit survey defines transactional relationships as agreements meant to fulfil specific, immediate needs. Collaborative relationships, meanwhile, are defined as partnerships created to meet mutually beneficial goals, and share the risks and rewards of future business opportunities. Both types of relationships serve valuable purposes for companies: the goal of transactional relationships tends to be the continued (and sometimes automated) execution of specific functions, such as order replenishment or ongoing maintenance of, say, the help desk. Collaborative relationships, meanwhile, aim to connect companies to bring about faster innovation and create future growth opportunities. They can evolve from transactional relationships, particularly when companies seek ways to gain a competitive advantage in reaching the end customer. In order to contrast the characteristics of the two types of business relationships, the survey asked senior executives to classify the nature of their most important business relationship as transactional or collaborative. Fifty-nine percent (302 in all) of the respondents describe their most important business relationship as collaborative (called the "collaboration" group in the paper) and 41% of the surveyed executives define their most important business relationships as transactional (the "transaction" group).
Introduction
It was June 2000 and AG Lafley, the newly appointed chief executive officer (CEO) of US-based consumer goods giant, Procter & Gamble (P&G), had come to a realisation: the company could not achieve its growth objectives by focusing on its internal capabilities and resources alone. Investments in research and development were yielding diminishing payoffs, and the company's stock price had plummeted from roughly US$58 in January to US$28 in June as a result of a failed restructuring initiative that cost the company US$1.9bn. Consequently, the US$76.5bn firm decided to abandon its "invent it ourselves" philosophy and shifted to a more collaborative approach a strategy corporate executives coined "Connect + Develop". The new model aimed to bring the capabilities and ideas of a variety of partners suppliers, entrepreneurs, universities, competitors and others together to innovate and improve products.
The strategy was a success. Today, over 50% of P&G's products and innovation pipeline involve external partners, according to Jeff LeRoy, the firm's external relations manager.
For example, ConAgra, a US-based packaged foods manufacturer, recently entered into a partnership to license P&G packaging solutions, such as wrappings and non-splatter valves on product bottles. This agreement was one of more than a thousand deals that P&G has struck since embarking on its Connect + Develop strategy. "P&G views a business deal as a success if both we and our collaborator are creating value", says Mr LeRoy. He estimates that about US$3bn in sales for P&G's partners is thanks in part to intellectual property created by P&G.
For P&G these collaborative relationships go beyond short-term deals and develop into long-term partnerships even with competitors. For example, P&G developed an innovative plastic wrap product, now known as Glad Press'n Seal, that became the basis of a partnership with US-based Clorox struck in late 2002. Two years later, P&G's contributions to the venture, including the technology behind Glad ForceFlex trash bags, released in 2004, have helped double Glad product sales and make it Clorox's second billion-dollar brand.
Most companies may not be ready to collaborate with their competitors as P&G has, but they do need to become more agile in order to take advantage of changes in the market. But this is easier said than done. Because few companies today work entirely on their own to develop and sell their products, they have to make their entire business network more nimble a significant re-engineering process.
Corporate executives are beginning to realise that they need to collaborate with their suppliers, alliance partners and customers in ways they would rarely have dreamt of ten years ago. For example, with respect to suppliers, most companies were intent on whittling down their supplier costs in order to save every last dime and renminbi. The supply chain was a food chain in which the strongest and fiercest emerged on top.
Although competition is certainly tougher today, many firms have realised that the old type of supply chain merely commoditises goods and services. When companies compete solely on cost, profit margins are cut to the bone. To avoid this fate, firms are partnering with their customers and suppliers in ways that create lasting value for all sides. Collaboration has become the watchword, both among and within companies. This paper focuses on external forms of collaboration.
As companies collaborate with one another, these formerly simple, transactional arrangements have become more intricate, complex and flexible. Firms work together now to develop new goods, services and innovative processes. To do this, they must share information that was once held in secret, known only to a select few employees in the company.
The benefits of this type of partnering are many and varied, but the main aim is to husband resources more powerfully "to help each other get better faster", in the words of John Hagel, co-chairman of the Deloitte LLP Center for Edge Innovation. No company has a monopoly on great ideas; each must go outside its own four walls in search of the most highly skilled partners, enabling all to focus on what they do best. By involving other companies in research and development, production and distribution, the relationship becomes richer and more strategic. It enables both sides to share the gains. What was a zerosum game then becomes a positive-sum relationship that may deepen and last for decades.
There are great rewards to be gained from this kind of collaborative network, but there are also considerable risks. Business secrets may leak out, or vital customer data may end up in the hands of a competitor. A network of business partnerships is highly complex, requiring an alignment of objectives among companies. Corporate cultures may be very different, as partners are likely to be located in several parts of the world. All of these issues serve to undermine the success of collaborative partnerships.
One way of overcoming these challenges is to make full use of a wide range of technological tools designed to enable companies to get closer to their alliance partners, suppliers and customers. Of course, identifying which technologies are best suited to individual cases is part of the challenge, as is determining how partners split the cost of implementation.
Forming mutually enriching partnerships with other companies is the current task for most companies. But it is not the end of the story. The next stage in the evolution of business networks is to include the final consumer, along with suppliers and corporate customers, in the development of new products and services. This will require even more sophisticated methods of collaboration that corporate planners have only just begun to imagine.
The benefits gained from collaborative networks
As one of the earliest adopters of collaborative partnering, Toyota Motors Corporation (Japan) has become the leading global car manufacturer thanks to the support of a network of loyal suppliers, built up over decades. Toyota understands suppliers' costs and defines a target price that discourages unreasonable cost estimates, but also allows the supplier to enjoy reasonable returns.
Toyota demands a great deal from its component makers. Not only will Toyota thoroughly investigate potential partners for operational strengths and weaknesses a process that can take as long as five years from start to finish it also requests design inputs from each of its suppliers to integrate into detailed master production plans. This helps the manufacturer ensure quality and monitor any problems with its process or products. Suppliers that enter into the rigorous, long-term relationship are viewed as trusted partners and see significant benefits as a result. For example, the company gave large up-front payments and price increases to its suppliers in Thailand to help them during that country's 1997 financial crisis. Those suppliers made similar requests to other original equipment manufacturers (OEMs), but did not receive the same level of support.
The Toyota message has been heard in corporate boardrooms around the world. Although other firms have been slower to act upon Toyota's best practices, more and more companies now understand the value of enhanced relationships with their suppliers.
The benefits of collaboration extend beyond the supply chain. Survey data reveal that firms prioritising collaborative relationships are more likely to partner directly with corporate customers. Two-thirds of respondents that identified their most important business relationship as collaborative created or enhanced partnerships with their corporate customers over the last five years, compared with only 56% of executives whose relationships are largely transactional.
Coca-Cola (US) is an example of a company that collaborates with its corporate customers. Anthony van der Hoek, Coca-Cola's director of strategy and business solutions, says that it partners with retailers.
like Wal-Mart (US) and other food service customers around the world in what he calls a "demand-driven value network". The network helps its partners "make sure that the right product is in the right place, at the right time and at the right price".
For example, Wal-Mart analyses transaction-level data of its shoppers collected at the point of sale to predict purchase trends for specific shopper segments, organised by retail location, product quantity and product type. The data from the analysis are shared with suppliers over a common software platform. In turn, Coca-Cola shares with Wal-Mart the data it collects and analyses. "We all have information sources where we and our retail partners get knowledge and develop insights", says Mr van der Hoek. "Taken together, it all contributes to the flavouring of the insights that we share."
Coca-Cola's collaboration with Wal-Mart demonstrates how such partnerships can improve a company's ability to understand the end-customer's behaviour and improve service. This is a key step toward creating a more customer-centric organisation, the top goal of business relationships in the future, according to surveyed executives. Specifically, when respondents were asked to share their firm's main objective in improving their business relationships over the next five years, 41% said the goal was to tighten their focus on the customer.
"There's a growing awareness that success hinges on anticipating and serving unmet needs in the marketplace", says Mr Hagel. "The best way to do that is to get very close to the customers that are driving the edge of performance of the products with which you're dealing." One way of achieving this kind of close proximity is to form a network of relationships with companies that can open up new distribution channels or provide market intelligence. Some companies are not only using the capabilities of the companies in their business network to serve their customers better, but are also working directly with their partners' customers. This trend is still emerging, but collaborative relationships are more likely to explore this opportunity to get closer to customers. According to the survey, 18% of the "collaboration" respondents enable the business partners in their network to have direct contact with their customers, compared with 8% of the "transaction" respondents.
One industry that relies on flexible supply chains is apparel, where tastes are fickle and producers must react quickly to changes in demand. An exponent of close collaboration in fashion wear is Li & Fung, a US$11 .9bn Hong Kong-based consumer goods exporter that supplies customers such as Calvin Klein and Anne Taylor. Li & Fung has assembled a network of over 10,000 companies around the world, many of which are in the textile industry. For a given project, Li & Fung matches specialised providers, from sources of yarn to processors of raw materials and fabrics. Every step of the process is co-ordinated, Mr Hagel says, "to get the product of the right quality to the right distribution centres at the right time and the right price".
Li & Fung has larger operating profit margins (3.4% in 2007) than most of its competitors in part because the company has built a network of partnerships, according to Mr Hagel. "The more participants they can mobilise and continue to add to their network, the more value they can provide to their customers through a broader range of best-in-class capabilities", he says.
Time Warner and Brightcove
Collaborative relationships work best when they benefit all partners in a business network and, as such, are certainly not limited to likeminded firms, or even companies of similar sizes. Large enterprises often benefit from the expertise and agility of smaller companies, while mid-market firms can take advantage of their larger partner's customer base, brand reputation and operational efficiencies. Such is the case for US-based Time Inc., the largest magazine publisher in the US, and US-based Brightcove, a smaller, privately-owned Internet TV services company.
Time relies on many business partnerships to deliver a good customer experience at its news, lifestyle and celebrity-oriented Web sites, according to Aiden Colie, senior vice-president, Web technology. In order to ensure that sites such as time.com and people.com meet consumers' rising expectations, Time Inc. has assembled a network of partners who contribute to their online user experience. For example, the company partners with DoubleClick, a US-based digital marketing solutions provider, to serve all its online advertisements, Brightcove to provide video content management and US-based TypePad and USbased WordPress for blog capabilities. "They provide us with technology that would be very difficult for us to build and maintain ourselves at a good price", Mr Colie says. "By being able to tap into these various partners, we're able to provide a much richer end-user experience."
In return, the partners benefit from the experience of working with a leading brand, and Time Inc., which had annual revenue of about US$5bn in 2007, helped its partners develop new products and services for its customers. For example, Brightcove builds customised solutions for Time but is also able to develop its core products as a result of the partnership.
"Time comes to us with a variety of requests and requirements from its different properties. What we develop as a result of those requests we will roll back into our product and build offerings that will also benefit us, because our other customers will want those things as well", says Eric Elia, vice-president for creative services at Brightcove. For Time's Mr Colie, Brightcove fits the profile of a partner in a collaborative relationship: "What I'm looking for in any partner is the willingness to invest time to understand our business, and meet our management team. The partner must not only understand the types of technical skills we're looking for but the kinds of individuals that will fit in very well with our organisation."
Overcoming the challenges of partnering
The most significant obstacle in creating a collaborative partnership is building trust among the companies involved. One-half of the respondents to the survey the largest proportion said that having enough trust to be able to share information is the most challenging part of the development of new business relationships. A lack of trust is felt particularly strongly in the area of IT. Only a small proportion of respondents are prepared to share the following with a partner: security technology (11%), process technology (11%) and software applications (17%).
In order to develop trust, a collaborative relationship must be an investment between partners committed to growing the network. "The real power and value in collaborative networks is not so much connecting to existing resources as finding ways we can push each other and help each other get better faster", Mr Hagel says. "To do that, I have to have real respect for the partners I'm dealing with and I have to build genuine long-term, trust-based relationships, because if we're going to learn, we have to trust each other enough to share what we know."
The simplest and most direct way of building trust is to develop a close rapport between business partners two-thirds of respondents said this but it is something that cannot be hurried. "The personal element is critical, and is always built up over time", says Coca-Cola's Mr van der Hoek. In the case of larger suppliers and customers, those relationships need to be constantly renewed, thanks to a high turnover rate in several important functions, such as vendor sales, customer analytics and procurement.
New entrants to such fields as these often want to make an impression on their bosses by trying to score points at their counterparts' expense. But wiser counsel must prevail. "Having the institutions behind them, with long-standing relationships and a degree of calmness, helps the companies' relationships over time and helps them to continue to partner collaboratively", Mr van der Hoek says.
To accelerate building trust, Mr Hagel suggests focusing on the future (rather than current) capabilities of the company, and creating a structured plan by which companies can demonstrate their contribution to the partnership. This involves scheduling meetings to determine how each partner can contribute to future opportunities and creating incentives to encourage partners to achieve the objectives. For example, Mr Hagel notes that US sports equipment company, Nike, has established regular tutelage programmes designed to help its production partners more rapidly reach and demonstrate their capabilities in the relationship, thus building trust across the network.
Of course, trust (or the lack of it) is not the only challenge. Conflicting corporate cultures is a key obstacle highlighted by 38% of survey respondents. To move beyond conflicting cultures to establish trust, almost one-half of the respondents said gaining an understanding of each other's business is critical for the venture.
"A key success factor in establishing a relationship with a customer is to only listen and not speak at the first meetings in order to understand what he needs. If you have a foundation of trust you are a step ahead", says Michael Kirchsteiger, managing director at voestalpine Anarbeitung GmbH, a member of the voestalpine Group, a leading Austrian steel maker with US$7.4bn in annual revenue. Mr Kirchsteiger's unit provides custom processing solutions for steel makers.
When voestalpine Anarbeitung approaches a potential customer, the first response of the sales target tends to be wariness: the fear that if it hands over processing tasks to a supplier and a subsidiary of another steel maker no less the operating risks will increase. With such would-be customers Mr Kirchsteiger seeks to establish trust through personal interaction with the client and by demonstrating his company's record of success with other steel makers.
If he succeeds in establishing a business relationship, the initial foundation of trust is then strengthened by close collaboration with the customer and by providing technology-supported planning and inventory control. In order to understand the needs of voestalpine Anarbeitung's customers, his firm not only talks to the procurement officers, but also to the managers on the production line. "We are very open with our customers as well as our suppliers, bringing them into our planning process in order to secure an optimised process, whether for buying, producing or selling."
By developing trusting relationships with a range of fellow partners, including raw materials suppliers, consultants, IT companies and universities, voestalpine Anarbeitung has increased its opportunities to reach more customers and provide services that it may not have offered in the past. "Our partners enable us to be faster, more flexible and to employ processes that are leaner and therefore more market-driven", Mr Kirchsteiger says. "Our company was founded to serve customers who are willing to pay a better price for more flexible services than a classic steel mill can provide."
Trust is more important for collaborative relationships than transactional ones, as they require companies to share information and processes to operate effectively. One way to establish trust in collaborative relationships is to share in the risks and rewards of the partnership, a point borne out by the survey. The "collaboration" group tends to shape business agreements in order to enable partners to share in the rewards (59% of the group) and the risks (45%). For "transaction" executives, only 38% enable their partners to share in the rewards and only 33% make them share in the risks. By contrast, the "transaction" group of respondents tended to resort more often to penalties if services levels were not met.
If the risks and rewards are shared among corporate partners, even competitors can sometimes work together to serve the customer. According to the survey, "collaboration" executives were more likely to partner with peers or competitors than were the "transaction" respondents. Co-operation with competitors is particularly common in the high-tech industries. UK-based Innovation Group has partnered directly with US-based IT giant, IBM, since 2003 to provide software solutions to insurance carriers. The partnership has yielded more than US$250m in revenue for the participants.
In 2006 the two companies started working with other vendors to deliver customised solutions for insurers. "We believe the next step is composite business services", Andrew Labrot, chief technology officer (CTO) of Innovation Group, says. "Our customers need business services that are choreographed to support business processes, such as issuing new policies."
The partner network consists of IBM, Innovation Group and three other competing software companies, Kana, Chordiant and SEEC. Other vendors are called upon as needed. The partners evaluate customer needs and then provide solutions by building software applications in co-ordination with IBM.
"No single vendor provides the needed depth in any given stage of the process, so we are assembling them according to each customer's specific needs," Mr Labrot adds. Innovation Group, a firm with US$220m in annual revenue, has enjoyed a seven-fold increase in operating profit between 2003 and 2007.
However deep the level of trust, companies will insist that their partners install strong security systems and processes to prevent information leaking out. K. Dinesh, a co-founder of India-based Infosys and head of its Quality, Information Systems and Communication Design Group, stresses the importance of security at his company which has US$4.2bn in annual sales: "We have a close relationship [with our partners], but each one of us has to protect our intellectual property", he says. "It is very important and we honour that. One of the ways you build trust is by honouring the rights of each of the partners in their own territory, which includes the intellectual property of each of them."
Tapping into new talent through collaboration
When it comes to building strong business relationships, the survey results reveal a clear, universal challenge: overcoming a shortage of qualified staff. Regardless of company size, region or industry and irrespective of how well respondents think their companies partner with third-party businesses the struggle to find talented workers has had the most significant detrimental effect on business partnerships. In fact, more than one-half of all respondents say that the shortage of qualified workers has affected their company's most important business relationships in a damaging or very damaging way.
It's true that demand for skilled workers rises in a competitive market, and that finding qualified workers will become more and more challenging over the next few years. But the shortage is just as much an opportunity as an obstacle. One of the greatest benefits of partnering with outside firms, for example, is to tap the expertise of a third party. When carefully planned, partnerships can be a valuable way to gain capabilities that could not otherwise be found in-house. As US-based Sun Microsystems founder Bill Joy once noted, "there are always more smart people outside your company than within it".
Naturally, small companies have a harder time gaining access to expertise than big ones. "We don't have the luxury of larger companies that can hire expertise if they need it", says Dick Dell, executive director of the Advanced Vehicle Research Center (AVRC), a firm based in North Carolina that develops alternative fuels and other advanced technologies for the automotive industry. Instead, "we look for other organisations to partner with, not just companies but also academic institutions".
For example, the AVRC recently completed a design-and-build document with plans to construct a small portable hydrogen refuelling station, Mr Dell says. Funded by the US Department of Energy, AVRC brought together US-based Air Products in Pennsylvania, US-based Ford Motor Company and the North Carolina State University (NCSU) Solar Center. "In this case, the AVRC and NCSU Solar Center were paid researchers under the federal contract, and we gained a lot of knowledge that will be put to use in future projects", Mr Dell says. Ford and Air Products donated their consulting time to the project, and "gained some positive public relations", he says."Increasingly, companies are realising that while they need to try to attract talent to their own firm, that's not always possible", says Mr Hagel. And it may not even be advisable: with unexpected fluctuations in demand, shifting economic stability and everincreasing market pressure from competitors, "there is an increasing premium on flexibility, being able to connect quickly to the resources that are most advantageous at that point in time. It's hard to do that if all you're relying on are the resources within your own enterprise".
In this way, partnering with outside firms not only provides access to expertise, but creates greater business agility as well. "The challenge is how to connect to those people and take advantage of the capabilities, intelligence and skills they offer."
Regional differences and similarities
A review of the survey results by region reveals differences and similarities in how geographically dispersed companies approach the establishment of business partnerships. Most notable among the similarities is that all regions place tremendous strategic importance on building relationships with customers. When asked with which entities their companies formed new or significantly enhanced business relationships over the past five years, "customers (for example, forming customer communities or direct-to-consumer channels)" was the top response in North America (61%) and Asia- Pacific (67%) and, at 60%, ranked only slightly behind "suppliers" (63%) in Europe. To exploit these business relationships, companies across the board will focus primarily on sales and distribution channels (46%), followed by marketing (34%) and research and development (R&D; 33%). The top goal, agree all companies, is to enhance customer centricity (41%).
The differences lay in how these companies are focusing their efforts to achieve a more customer-oriented business approach. In Europe and Asia-Pacific, respondents are more likely than their North American-based counterparts to report that their companies are changing their organisational structure (71% and 70%, respectively) to improve their most important business relationships. Although this was also the top response among North American respondents, the response was much lower, at only 43%, indicating that North American firms are undertaking a wider variety of approaches to strengthen their customer relationships, including elevating the role of the relationship manager (35%) and creating new distribution channels (33%). Meanwhile, European and Asia-Pacific firms are more likely to consider outsourcing non-core functions as a solution than companies in North America. However, this could merely indicate that North American firms have already outsourced many activities, compared with firms in other regions.
Another key difference across the regions is the approach companies take to sharing data and processes with business partners. In Asia-Pacific, a region that is already highly regarded for delivering quality customer service, respondents report a higher tendency to regard their relationships with third-party stakeholders as partnerships (67%, compared with 57% in Europe and 52% in North America) rather than transaction-based agreements. Asian and European firms are also more likely to share processes and data with partners (41% for Asia, 39% for Europe and 24% for North America) than other regions. Finally, when asked what respondents would emphasise in forming new relationships over the next five years, respondents in Asia-Pacific were more likely to cite visibility and transparency on data and processes (53%) than companies in Europe (38%) and North America (30%).
The task of technology: a common platform for people and systems
One would be hard-pressed to find a company today that successfully partners with outside vendors without the aid of some kind of collaborative tool. Indeed, nearly 70% of survey respondents agree that the adoption of new technologies has positively affected their most important business relationships. When it comes to creating stronger partnerships, technology is perhaps the greatest enabler. This has certainly been the case at Locher Evers International, a Vancouver-based freight forwarding company. Locher Evers exports and imports goods to nearly every country across the globe, and has branch offices in London, Germany and South Korea. But its inward-facing systems made connecting with third parties a challenge. "In response to a customer inquiry", says Peter
Broerken, director and chief financial officer (CFO) of the US$254m firm, "we would say, 'Let me send an email or fax to my overseas agent and get back to you tomorrow'". Because of time differences, it could take several days to find answers. Company officials knew there had to be a better way to get customer queries answered quickly.
In the past, Locher Evers managed its data through a private network that could only be seen by company employees. But in January 2008 the firm launched a new platform using extensible markup language (XML). That made it possible for Locher Evers and its partners to set basic standards and nomenclatures for data, allowing for secure data sharing with other shipping partners over the Web. "Every time there is a shipment milestone, we will send an XML file to our partner, and they will do something similar", Mr Broerken says. Most importantly, the data are updated regularly and made accessible to customers through a Web portal. The customer response has been very positive, says Mr Broerken. Getting business partners to change their business processes was not an easy task, Mr Broerken admits.
In the future, when considering new partners, Locher Evers will require a certain level of technological sophistication, according to Mr Broerken. "Five years ago in some developing countries, we were just happy if they had reliable email", he says. "Today they now have to have better data exchange capabilities." Locher Evers is not the only firm to recognise the value of the Internet in co-ordinating business operations and facilitating greater communication between business partners. When asked which IT changes their company has made to facilitate its most important business relationships, respondents cited a move to Web-based systems as their top response. Furthermore, 40% of surveyed executives believe that Web portals will be essential to their most important business relationships. Not surprisingly, email is expected to remain a critical communications tool for connecting with business partners over the next five years, according to 63% of respondents. Web conferencing (36%) and telephone conferencing (35%) are also expected to be key communication methods.
"Clearly, communications technologies have been the enabler of the business process outsourcing on a global scale", asserts Scott McKay, senior vice-president of operations and quality, and CTO of Genworth Financial, a US-based financial services company with annual revenue over US$10bn. "Better communications technologies help deepen relationships and make people more effective. On an infrastructure level, as processes and tools become easier to share and integrate, the speed at which we can improve and build global processes is getting faster."
How fast is fast? In the rapidly evolving field of Internet television and video publishing, US-based Brightcove has created a network of content creators and publishers to deliver plug-and-play solutions to meet the demands of specific online audiences, says Eric Elia, vice-president for creative services. To do this, Brightcove has developed tightly-woven relationships with its own business partners, such as Visible Measures, a US-based provider of Internet video usage analytics, and DoubleClick, a US-based digital marketing solutions provider. "If a customer wants to add analytics tools to Brightcove, or make use of DoubleClick's ad serving system, it takes us just a few minutes to have that up and running", Mr Elia says.
Unfortunately, few companies have reached this point. Although the survey's findings indicate that companies are investing in technology to drive more sophisticated and intimate partnerships, the relevant technology is rarely shared across corporate boundaries. For example, when asked how application ownership has been handled with respect to their firm's most important business relationships, 61% of respondents said "we each use our own applications". Only 17% said they use their partner's applications. Similarly, only 38% of respondents share business processes.
This is particularly interesting considering the importance survey respondents place on transparency. When asked which areas they would place the greatest emphasis on when forming new relationships over the next five years, "visibility and transparency of data and processes" was surpassed only by "personal relationships and expectation setting" as the most critical effort. It seems clear that companies recognise the need to be more open with their partners, but have not yet taken action.
The challenge is to share enough to optimise collaboration without undermining privacy, security and competitive intelligence, and this is where technology can help. To address this issue, Qualcomm, a US-based manufacturer of wireless chipsets for mobile phones and provider of wireless data services, has created an open yet secure environment to help developers and publishers of content more easily build applications for use on a range of mobile devices. The development programme stands at the centre of a network of thousands of developers, from leading content publisher/developers such as Disney, Major League Baseball and Electronic Arts to small companies and individual developers.
The company provides developers with a software platform that includes the blueprint of the microchip technology that Qualcomm sells to 45 different mobile phone manufacturers, including US-based
Motorola and South Korea-based Samsung. Through the software, content developers have access only to their specific initiative, so that mobile phone manufacturers' competitive advantages are protected. Qualcomm serves as a gateway for these developers to submit applications to work within telephone networks, such as US-based Verizon or US-based Alltel, and pays each developer 80% of the revenue it collects from network operators.
In the five years since the platform was launched, Qualcomm has paid developers over US$1bn, and now supports approximately 80m transactions per month. Benefits are seen by all parties involved: Qualcomm earns revenue by distributing developers' content and applications, developers benefit from Qualcomm's extensive distribution network, and telephony operators satisfy consumer demand with the applications and content they receive through the network.
Unfortunately for most companies, there is still considerable work to be done with regard to internal IT systems before they can begin to think about connecting with external partners. When asked which capabilities need the greatest enhancement to improve firms' most important business relationships, customer relationship management ranked at the top of the list, indicating a clearly understood lack of sophistication when it comes to sharing, interpreting and acting on customer information across the corporate landscape and between business partners. Business process management and business intelligence also rank high, further underscoring the need for companies to think more holistically about sharing data and processes with third-party vendors.
At the other end of the spectrum, when asked which communications technologies will be most essential to support companies' most important business relationships in the future, respondents were least likely to cite instant messaging (21%), social networks (12%) and wikis (8%), indicating that most companies have yet to understand the value of these interactive tools. Although Mr Hagel of the Deloitte LLP Center for Edge Innovation agrees that adoption of these technologies is still at a very early stage, he believes that many of these tools are particularly appropriate for the challenges of supporting and enhancing collaboration, and will be formally adopted in the future. "One of the key values of business networks is not just co-ordinating routine activity", he says, "it is connecting the right people to each other across not just distributed geographies but also distributed entities to address the problem that needs to be solved".
Some companies are beginning to see the light. In July 2008, as a result of a meeting between Sun Microsystems executives including Sun CEO Jonathan Schwartz and roughly 15 0 of Sun's partners from 27 countries, the computer manufacturing company launched an invitation-only social networking platform called ExecConnect. The forum, an extension of the company's Partner Advantage Program for third-party software vendors, provides a secure venue where Sun's business partners can meet to discuss new ideas and opportunities to work with one another.But technology alone cannot strengthen corporate partnerships, bring companies closer to their customers, or re-engineer business processes. Ultimately, IT systems will fail unless they are fully supported and adopted by employees and cross-functional teams. "There will never be a computer system in the world that comes out with what the next innovative product, process or strategy needs to be", says Mr van der Hoek of Coca-Cola. "It will always be a human being."
the approach of small to medium-sized enterprises
Small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), like their large enterprise counterparts, are increasingly adopting collaborative relationships with business partners. While larger businesses have worked collaboratively with partners for many years, smaller companies, based on the survey findings, are increasingly forming collaborative relationships in a network of large and small companies. Here are some key approaches of SMEs as they join these partnerships:
Focus of collaboration. Smaller companies are more focused on product and service differentiation (42%) than big companies (30%), whereas large firms are slightly more focused on customer centricity (44%) than smaller firms (37%).
Nature of collaboration. Smaller companies are more likely to share ownership of business processes with partners. By contrast, large companies tend to take a more formal approach to managing relationships with business partners, holding regularly scheduled meetings and more frequently turning to service level agreements than their smaller counterparts.
Adoption of new technology. Small companies see greater opportunities arising from the adoption of new technologies: 76% see it as beneficial or very beneficial, compared with 63% for large companies.
Strategic change for improving collaboration. Big and small companies are focusing primarily on changes to their organisational structure in order to improve relations with their most important stakeholders. Smaller firms are more likely to seek new distribution channels, whereas large companies are more likely to outsource noncore functions and elevate the role of the relationship manager.
Conclusion
It seems clear from the survey data that companies want to improve their strategic business partnerships. When asked to reflect on the lessons learned from past business relationships, twothirds of survey respondents say that in future they will place greater emphasis on developing personal relationships and setting expectations with business partners. Strengthening these ties is a much higher priority than setting service level agreements (36%) or managing intellectual property rights (23%), indicating that companies are becoming more willing to be open and collaborative with other firms.
The aim, however, is to create a collaborative network that not only includes business partners but end-consumers as well. In doing so, companies can gain insights from all points along the value chain, and think more creatively about how to improve products, make processes more efficient, and conceive innovative new business approaches to deliver greater value to end-consumers.
Many forward-thinking companies, such as Disney, Apple, Nike, P&G and others, have seen great competitive success by adopting this mode of thinking. But for most companies, this goal is still beyond the horizon. When asked what main objectives their companies will seek in improving business relationships over the next five years, "enhanced customer centricity" ranked highest, at 41%, followed by product and service differentiation (35%) and improved speed to market (34%). Again, the thinking is on the right track, but there is much work to be done before companies can reap the benefits of a truly integrated business network.
Companies of all sizes around the world looking to re-engineer their relationships with suppliers, customers, alliance groups, competitors and other third-party stakeholders should consider the following action points:
Look beyond cost control. For critical business relationships, companies must think of ways to enhance revenue and foster innovation with their partners while simultaneously controlling costs. By sharing the rewards and the risks of collaboration, business relationships are likely to last longer and be more valuable to both sides.
Find ways to build trust. As the adage goes, trust takes a lifetime to build and just one moment to destroy. True partnership entails a high degree of visibility and transparency between companies. To build confidence more quickly, partners should create a plan to reveal small amounts of key information, progressively offering more and more insights to the point where each side fully understands the others' strengths and weaknesses.
Build a skills network. Select partners that can provide expertise in areas that are lacking at your company, or significantly enhance existing capabilities. At the same time, look for partners that need your know-how, and encourage employees to assist partners in achieving mutually shared business goals. Doing this will reinforce mutual dependency, as well as enable corporate partners to act smarter than if they were on their own.
Share technology. Use technology to connect people and systems to share information quickly and securely in a more collaborative business environment. The more that technology facilitates communication between partners, strengthening personal relationships and trust, the more valuable it will become for business networks in delivering superior products and services to customers.
Invest and invite. A collaborative network is a long-term process, built on investing in personal relationships, trust and technology. The best networks are the ones that continually grow by attracting additional business partners that have access to more markets.

Mauricio Urrea Ospina