by CIO Staff

Where Does IT Go in a Supply Chain Overhaul?

Oct 19, 20042 mins
Supply Chain Management Software

If your boss reads the story in the current issue of Fortune about Avon’s supply chain rehab, be sure she reads it to the end. Because it’s in the last two or three paragraphs of the 2,664-word book excerpt Avon Gets Its (Supply Chain) Makeover that the glowing report on Avon’s turnaround mentions IT. Which appears to be the one shadow on the otherwise courageous, ambitious, laborious and successful reworking of the global company’s supply chain from end to end.

The authors say:

The company was determined that its supply chain transformation be process-driven, not systems-driven. Instead of overhauling its computer systems, the company wanted to get its processes right first. The leadership team felt that doing both at once would be unmanageable. Aside from creating the central data repository and the web-based system for suppliers, systems upgrades were put on hold—even though Avon’s country-based entrepreneurial model had resulted in a jumble of systems.

That has admittedly caused problems and frustrations, and apparently “Avon has begun designing a global platform to replace the existing system and support the new processes.”

IT folks might think it better to consider all of that before the rejiggering of suppliers and fabrication plants and bottle designs.

The details of the project, including surprise successes and hard decisions, make a good read. The excerpt is from Strategic Supply Chain Management, by Shoshanah Cohen and Joseph Roussel.

(Subscription required to access Fortune online. Story in the Nov. 1 print edition.)