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Tue 14 Oct 2008 04:00 AM

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Ask the expert: Daniel Wood

Question: What are the advantages of using a supply chain consultancy service?

Question: What are the advantages of using a supply chain consultancy service?

Expert:Daniel Wood, Sales and marketing director, DHL Exel Supply Chain

Consultancy in a nutshell

Supply chain and logistics consultancy is about facilitating a specialist look at the customer's strategy, organisation, or processes, to enable value to be unlocked, risk to be managed and, ultimately, to drive a better performance to the bottom line.

Consultancies provide independent expertise which can help the customer determine its optimum.

The supply chain is a fundamental and essential element of the business, so it is certainly worth bringing a group with specialist expertise early on in the change management process to ensure that the supply chain is functioning in the most efficient way possible.

Leveraging the benefits of an outsider's perspective

It often takes an outside perspective to see how the business can be improved and it's important to employ some form of consultancy as it offers independent, specialist expertise that can help the customer determine its optimum business strategy.

This may involve keeping inhouse control of inventory movement or a combination of partial or total outsourcing of key facets of the supply chain such as logistics provisions, infrastructure and human capital, giving maximum flexibility and agility.

The requirement is to raise the bar at every turn, not only leading to best practice in the industry, but helping to lead improvements in the wider environment and in the Middle East region.

Practical advice from practitioners

We don't know of any other logistics or supply chain company that offers this service. We tend to be going up against the traditional competing houses that either tend to be significantly more expensive or do not have the supply chain expertise bank that we can tap into through our global networks.

In an emerging dynamic market such as the Middle East, where it's generally accepted that growth under 10% signifies loss of market share, decisions made around the supply chain - the ‘lifeline of the business' - are hugely important. It's better to get those decisions right first time around to minimise the risk to the business and to maximise value returns.

This will prevent losses later on. We have a proven ability to help customers in making decisions that produce substantial and continuing benefits for their business.

The German connection

Our inhouse consultants are based in Bonn, Germany, and we have conducted this service around the world.

The appetite for supply chain consultancy here in the Middle East seems to be outstripping other parts of the world and our raft of case studies showing value delivery have gone down well here, proving our theory that the offering is particularly relevant to the Middle Eastern market.

Identifying a market

I believe the relevance is to all clients with a vested interest in their supply chain. It is not dependant on sector, indeed we deal with everyone from chocolate bar manufacturers to oil multinationals based here in the Middle East.

We have worked for a number of clients across the Middle East, mainly using our inhouse consultants in Bonn to bring the thought leadership and project management skills required in many of the contracts we've been awarded. In Dubai, we undertook consultancy work for Dubai Pearl, a hugely exciting mixed-use development at the base of the Palm Jumeirah.

In developing the logistics concept for Dubai Pearl, we delivered the logistics solution design, a full environmental design analysis and a reward financial model. We have worked with various FMCG customers across the GCC and have been approached by the Saudi government over an exciting opportunity to examine a Kingdom-wide supply chain that will change the face of distribution in the country.

Building on success

We have received excellent feedback from the customers for whom we have provided services; they have found engaging expertise earlier on than is generally traditional to be truly of value. For example, prior to outsourcing a large piece of the logistics business, we have been able to identify the key drivers.

Our expertise is reflected in the value we've managed to unlock for both public and private sector companies across the Middle East. As a result, we are heavily in demand and with the ability to draw on our global scale, reach and leverage across our supply chain business, there isn't a lot we don't know about supply chain functionality, change and innovation.

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