Effective Supply Chain Collaboration: Why it Matters

Lionel Grealou Outsourcing Supply Chain Talents 2 minutes

Image credit: the Farm Hub (c)

Collaboration with partners, suppliers and customers has become a strategic imperative for companies in the networked world of business; there are company-centric and customer-centric views of collaboration. This also applies to the manufacturing industry as OEMs moved from traditional supply chain to co-creation or value creation for New Product Development & Introduction (NPDI). Effective NPDI is hard to imagine out of Product Life-cycle Management (PLM) strategies – or, perhaps for a better word, Product Development Life-Cycle (PDLC) which is meant to define how the extended enterprise and the supply chain operate in a context of global sourcing.

In 1979, Porter introduced the paradigm of Competitive Strategies to which was added the concept of Value Chain as a decision support tool. It obviously includes core and support business functions, internal and external dependencies and relationships including linkages to Supply Chains.

Broadly speaking, PDLC collaborative solutions will address series of (out)sourcing requirements which nowadays are mandatory to sustain competitive advantage or sometimes just essential for survival:

Sharing and collaborating across silos is a recurring challenge for distributed Engineering & Design (E&D) teams, outsourced manufacturing, and supply chain networks. This is coupled with PDLC and data management challenges such as:

  • Scattered data among multiple systems and scores of individual users.
  • Inaccurate data, not timely accessible.
  • Time-consuming design reuse due to limited or inefficient (if not impossible) searchability.
  • Proliferation of part and data duplication.
  • Need to protect intellectual property.

Global outsourcing demands a strategic product and service delivery perspective coupled with a deep understanding of supplier cost and competencies, combined with knowledge of the Engineering and PDLC domains. Designing a supply chain with the proper degree of vertical integration requires a clear understanding of the risks and rewards of global outsourcing. There is perhaps a need for Service Life-Cycle Management (SLCM) involving the service community, on-going service evaluation and co-creation of revised service offerings.

What are your thoughts?


  • Porter ME (1979) How competitive forces shape strategy, Harvard Business Review

This post was originally published on LinkedIn on 16 May 2015.

About the Author

Lionel Grealou


Lionel Grealou, a.k.a. Lio, helps original equipment manufacturers transform, develop, and implement their digital transformation strategies—driving organizational change, data continuity and process improvement, managing the lifecycle of things across enterprise platforms, from PDM to PLM, ERP, MES, PIM, CRM, or BIM. Beyond consulting roles, Lio held leadership positions across industries, with both established OEMs and start-ups, covering the extended innovation lifecycle scope, from research and development, to engineering, discrete and process manufacturing, procurement, finance, supply chain, operations, program management, quality, compliance, marketing, etc.

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