It’s all about information

In January, 2011, a McKinsey Quarterly report entitled, “Building the supply chain of the future” focused on how companies need to “ditch today’s monolithic model in favor of splintered supply chains that dismantle complexity, and use manufacturing networks to hedge uncertainty.” At the heart of this suggestion in the ten-page report is information:

Making these kinds of moves isn’t easy, of course, since any alterations to a company’s supply chain have far-ranging implications throughout the organization. For starters, such changes require much more cooperation and information sharing across business units than many companies are accustomed to.

Information sharing between a company and its customers is even more important, and is part of understanding supply chain peculiarities, especially when we are dealing with a two-step distribution model.

Interline Creative Group, Inc. has been helping one of our clients share information with their customers for the past eight years, producing reports that detail distributor activity across a variety of metrics. These reports – which the national sales manager said are “the best in the industry” provide a strong basis for business discussions between our client and their customer base. Among the metrics, the reports (which are pulled from raw data from the client’s SAP system as raw data, and then formatted through the use of macros into dashboard-looking reports) detail such things as:

  • Net sales and number of units on the customer’s top five best-selling product categories and specific models and parts.
  • Overall total sales in specific industry categories used by the client (i.e., product groups) compared to the national averages
  • Special information on program participation by the distributor in the company’s spiff programs
  • Total sales on a month-by-month basis to reflect any industry trends
  • Six years of total sales graphed to see gains and losses by the customer

These reports are then prepared for the individual customer, and then rolled up to reflect regions (for the regional sales manager) and overall buying group. For a sample of the Interline report referred to in this article, go to and request a copy.

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