In our earlier blog ‘Supply Chain Control Towers: is the hype over?’, one of the conclusions was that control tower solutions are now mature but that many control tower implementations still have a limited scope from a supply chain and/or functionality perspective. In this post, we address the questions of how to assess the maturity of your current supply chain control tower solution, and how to drive cost reductions and improve service levels by extending your existing control tower solutions.

Maturity of control tower solutions

The maturity of supply chain control tower solutions can be assessed using the following dimensions (see figure 1):

  • Supply chain: which supply chain processes are supported, e.g. manufacturing, warehousing and transportation for inbound and/or outbound flows (see figure 2)
  • Functionality: which activities are conducted, e.g. order management, planning, event management, cost control, analytics and/or workflow management (see figure 2)
  • Geography: which countries/regions are in scope of the control tower
  • Business: how many business units or divisions are supported
  • Governance: decisions rights of the control tower, e.g. accountable, responsible, consulting and/or supporting
  • Capabilities: operational, tactical and/or strategic capabilities of staff members
  • IT support: tools and systems supporting the control tower and level of integration with other systems

Figure 1: Maturity of supply chain control tower solutions

Figure 2: Functionality and supply chain scope of control towers

In ‘real life’, the maturity level of a supply chain control tower is the result of a unique mix of decisions that have been made regarding the scope dimensions mentioned above. Typical examples of control towers are (see figure 3):

  • Pilot implementations: solutions with a limited scope and level of maturity with the objective of gaining more experience with the control tower concept
  • Control towers for supply chain analytics: implementations focusing on supply chain analytics with a wide scope from a supply chain and business perspective; the level of maturity depends on tools used and analytical capabilities of supply chain staff
  • Transportation control towers: supply chain scope with focus on transportation with related operational and tactical activities; the maturity level depends mainly on business scope, level of integration with partners, capabilities of staff members and IT systems 

Figure 3: Control tower scope and maturity levels (examples)

Benefits of bringing control tower solutions ‘to the next level’

Control towers can be taken ‘to the next level’ by extending the scope on the dimensions that have been identified before. For example, the maturity of a transportation control tower could be improved by including warehousing activities and/or other countries or divisions. Typical benefits of these types of measures are (see figure 4):

  • Extending the Supply chain scope: by adding warehousing and/or manufacturing processes and collaboration with partners in particular, the logistic execution costs and end-to-end supply chain quality can improve
  • Extend Functionality: transforming a control tower from an administrative set-up to an operational control tower also responsible for planning processes will create overall possibilities to reduce working capital and improve quality 
  • Extend geography/business scope: implementing the control tower concept in more countries/regions or business units/divisions will create synergies which will have a positive impact on operational costs (staff, IT, etc.) in particular
  • Extend governance: to give the control tower more decision rights will have a particularly positive impact on service levels and working capital costs
  • Enforcing capabilities: stronger capabilities of staff members will create more possibilities for flexibility in the supply chain
  • Better IT support: dedicated and integrated tools will notably reduce operational costs as a result of automation of manual work, communication and decision support

Figure 4: Benefits of improving the maturity of a supply chain control tower

Thus, enhancing the maturity of your control tower solution through these different drivers can have significant benefits, both in terms of cost reduction and improvement of service levels. The hype may be over, but the real value of having a control tower solution may only now begin to surface.