Supply chain professionals in the chemical industry view the underutilization of supply chain technology as a barrier to improving overall supply chain performance in the industry, according to an Accenture study.
The study, designed to identify supply chain best practices in the global chemicals industry, was based on a study of more than 250 business units with over 1,000 contributors in the industry across North America, Europe and the Asia Pacific region. In addition, Accenture recruited executives from 10 leading chemicals companies to form a steering committee charged with designing and overseeing the study.
Among the key findings: Fewer than 10% of respondents believe that their supporting supply chain technology is performing at an “excellent” level across all 11 functional areas studied like commercial optimization, demand planning, inventory target setting and deployment. In addition, although more than 70% of respondents are using integrated systems for the order management and commercial optimization categories, fewer than 30% of respondents feel their technology is being fully utilized.
The study also found that supply chain training shows significant room for improvement. For example, more than three-quarters (78%) of respondents say they either do not receive formal supply chain training or let functional areas define their own training needs, ultimately incorporating cross supply chain issues to varying degrees.
Furthermore, collaboration with customers appears to be a challenge for chemical companies, as more than two-thirds of respondents do not engage suppliers in joint planning processes.
“Results from the study demonstrate that chemical company supply chains, while unquestionably valuable to a company’s performance, are far from achieving best-practice status,” says Christopher Lange, a senior executive in Accenture’s Chemicals industry group and the study’s author. “The study findings, which we plan to make available to any company that participates in the study, should benefit chemical professionals at every level in identifying gaps in their supply chains and using this information to drive the necessary changes.”
Accenture, recognizing the limitation of providing a single final report, has developed a query tool that provides participants with direct access to the underlying database of responses. This query tool enables users to identify best practices in the industry customized to the needs of the participants.