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Author's profile photo Richard Blumberg

The Urgency of Digital Supply Chain (or “Value Chain”) Knowledge Management

Express your comments below. On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 = Highest level of KM) where does your supply chain &/or organization stand? Share a high level KM example. Can you relate to this compelling issue?

Supply chains are going through major disruptions and extreme pressures. There are shortages everywhere and many root causes.

A key challenge for digital supply chains is that it involves multiple organizations, and a governance of content ownership must be set up, as the volume and speed of information grows.

Organizations participating in supply chains must zero in on Knowledge Management (KM) to help reduce risks and become more resilient. It is critical to empower connected workers and collaborative networks between buyers, suppliers, strategic partners, stakeholders, and customers in the value chain.

Knowledge Management represents a critical component of digital transformation by way of creating, sharing, using and managing the knowledge and information. In today’s disruptive, fast paced environment it can be difficult to step back and take the time to ensure it’s in place.

Without the right knowledge assets in place the value and impact of technology is reduced.

As supply chain disruption continues and the need to become more intelligent and autonomous grows, equipping a more knowledgeable workforce becomes urgent.

What are the benefits of Digital Supply Chain Knowledge Management?

There are many benefits to employing a sound strategy for Knowledge Management, particularly as organization’s information assets continue to expand rapidly including:
  • Improving Efficiency: KM reduces the wasted time of searching for needed information and empowers all supply chain participants with the right information, at the right time.
  • Empowering Decisions: When the right knowledge assets are in place it can support timely, informed decisions based on the processes, data and insights provided by the apps and tools.
  • Saving Time, Money, and Effort:  When information such as standard operating procedures (SOPs), how-to’s, best practices, lessons learned, onboarding, governance, compliance, and regulatory are made available there is less duplication and a single source of the truth.

Organizations that commit to preparing their supply chain workers both now, and for the future, with the right knowledge are in a better position to emerge as leaders with successful outcomes.

Call to Action: 5 Practical Steps for Supply Chain Leaders

There are a number of short-term steps supply chain leaders can take that require minimal investment, but also can deliver substantial benefits very quickly.

There also are longer-range actions that will need to take place to position the supply chain for future success. Steps to consider include:

  1. Creating a Knowledge Management-Risk Assessment
    Identify the taxonomy of information, key contributors, current status, gaps, and a roadmap of requirements.
  2. Assessing a Minimum Viability Knowledge Management Approach
    Confirm the essential KM requirements are in place incorporating leadership, expert, content contributor, and user feedback. A short-sprint approach is more likely to demonstrate success and value, rather than the big-bang approach.
  3. Ensuring Consistent Role Based Information
    Provide key lines of business with the right information at the right time based on their roles including finance, procurement, manufacturing, planning, IT and HR/learning representing interorganizational knowledge.
  4. Enabling Cross-functional Working Teams
    Remove silos. Cross-teams with a shared approach will increase the overall understanding of the process, work pro-actively to solve problems, and increase supply chain and customer satisfaction.
  5. Encouraging Learning and Role-Modeling
    Share knowledge from leadership, subject matter experts, and hands-on users. Develop a continuous learning approach. Ensure tribal knowledge is shared with new workers onboarding and retained (vs. drained) as workers move on.

As supply networks become more intelligent, Knowledge Management fluency will make or break successful outcomes. With the right strategy, leaders can ensure their workers can thrive and work effectively in the current and ever evolving supply chain.

Given the higher than normal supply chain employee turnover, and need for skill building to meet current and future goals, the need for Knowledge Management is not just nice, but necessary.

Optimizing Digital Supply Chain Technology

It is important to realize that technology alone is not the answer.

For example, data is part of the knowledge architecture, and it is important to put it to work. Data by itself is not the answer. When the right data is combined with the right information it becomes extremely useful. When this information is made available as knowledge, then it becomes fully and more precisely — actionable.

Improving Knowledge Management will optimize the supply chain and workers performance in very positive ways by combining the best technology outcomes with the best people outcomes.

It is about ensuring that everyone has access to the knowledge they need when they need it.

Take the time to strategize and assess the Knowledge Management requirements in your supply chain, unlock the benefits, create value, and empower all the connected workers.

Can you relate? On a scale of 1 to 10 (10 = Highest level of KM) where does your supply chain &/or organization stand? Share a high level KM use case example (1 or 2 sentences). Are you a leader responsible for KM or a user who needs it?
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      Author's profile photo Giancarlo Frison
      Giancarlo Frison

      I think the steps described here regarding knowledge management is important, as important as how to make use of this knowledge. This is a software project designed to combine knowledge graphs and business process. I hope you'll find it interesting.

      Author's profile photo Richard Blumberg
      Richard Blumberg
      Blog Post Author

      @Giancarlo... Thanks for sharing your blog and recognizing the importance of KM! It brings to light that with the lines of business, e.g., your example with IT... that knowledge sharing is critical. As Digital Supply Chains evolved and requirements change we need Application Lifecycle Management for SAP and 3rd Party applications and programing (low/no-code, etc.). Leveraging technology with the human touch is key. Let's continue this discussion... You have some good ideas!:-)

      Author's profile photo Stephanie De Camara Marley
      Stephanie De Camara Marley

      Richard Blumberg this is a great blog. Early in my career I worked as a supply chain professional. In the past I felt somewhat hamstrung not having the proper systems and data integrity to be able to flawlessly serve my customers (...right place, right time, right amount...) Fast-forward to today with advanced technology processes can be automated like never before and removing likelihood of manual error. The opportunity today seems endless.