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In the first of this series of Supply Chain Control Tower Q&A blogs, we asked Kenton Harman, a Supply Chain Product Manager at SAP, to share his insights on the role of the Control Tower and it’s key capabilities…

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How would you define the Supply Chain Control Tower?

To summarize, the Control Tower is a solution that helps businesses with their ad hoc planning and execution processes. To elaborate on this a little, when devising planning processes, supply chain professionals often seek to create the “perfect plan”. But, as we all know, these often have to be adapted and modified as we must respond to unforeseen events and circumstances that arise.

The Control Tower helps users to identify these exceptions, undertake analysis, and devise courses of action which may be outside of our usual planning and execution applications. It also enables users to coordinate activities between individuals and organizations, provides justification for how problems should be solved, and enables users to effective take action.

What are the three top capabilities you would seek to gain from using a Control Tower?

1. Exception management across systems of data in order to drive action

2. Aggregated and detailed analytics to uncover problems

3. Driving collaboration and responses to problems

What time horizon would you plan to use a Control Tower for? (Days/ Weeks/ Months)

The Control Tower is relevant in all time horizons, but the situations that it is used in may change depending on the company or industry.

However, I do think that the Control Tower should primarily be used in circumstances where planning are unable to react to changes, and where ad hoc planning processes could over rule those parameters.

Who would be the main users regularly accessing the Control Tower?

In my opinion there are two main users.


The first type of users are planners (supply, demand and inventory) who are responsible for formulating a companies planning processes. The second type of users are managers, who oversee aspects of the supply chain organization. For example, coordinators between manufacturing sites and centers of excellence.

What is the role of the Control Tower in relation to Segmentation?

The Control Tower collects and brings together information from many sources. As it’s important to find the most important or relevant problems, it’s segmentation capabilities allows users to cluster data together in ways that allows users to find problems at an aggregate level.

What is the role of the Control Tower and Analytics?

The Control Tower enables users to perform analysis on data from a wide array of different sources in a user friendly way, through its simple interface and use of visualizations. Also, with the Control Tower users have the ability to start at a high level and drill town to view data at lower levels in order to understand the factors driving performance.

What is the role of the Control Tower and Performance Management?

This is a key role for the solution, as it combines historical data together with future data so users can identify the factors that may impact their future performance levels.

What is the role of the Control Tower and Collaboration?

Collaboration is always important when addressing supply chain problems. However, it is becoming increasingly difficult to collaborate when we are now faced with increasingly complex networks of trading partners, as these ever-growing chains have now created dependency and relationship gaps. Today, we must rely on others if we are to effectively execute our demand plans.

As a result, in many cases, the person who identifies the problem is not the only person that is needed to effectively solve the problem. The Control Tower’s collaborative capabilities enables users to share insights and raise issues with other individuals, groups or departments to notify those responsible to take steps to resolve these problems.

Other blogs in the series:

To view Q&A blog with Syngenta on the Control Tower click the link below:

http://scn.sap.com/community/scm/blog/2016/04/28/syngenta

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