7 Acronym-Based Methods for Effective Supply Chain

Supply chain analysis usually involves the techniques such as optimization, statistics, simulation but the most convenient method for practitioners is the process mapping and process analysis. This article will show you 7 simple analysis methods based on easy-to-remember acronyms.

Basic Concept
Most business process mapping/management textbook present lots of information about how the real world process can be represented. However, these textbook doesn't address enough how to analyze the process. Some of them even say that modeler should ask the people who have the knowledge of the system. But, what to ask and what to do after that?

Luckily, literature related to industrial engineering and total quality management has provided some useful methods for this. Some of these analysis methods are presented in acronym. Then, let's find out what kind of acronym we can use for supply chain analysis from infographic below,

Theoretical Background
I believe it's nice to learn more about these concepts as below,

ICOM is part of IDEF0 methodology which was used primarily for mapping of a complex manufacturing process. Due to the ease of use, many supply chain practitioners use it for supply chain mapping purpose.

The origin of this acronym is not very clear but it's mentioned extensively in the TQM/Lean literature. System Analysis (part of Information System) also has something similar to ECRS.

Even though 7 wastes principle is pretty popular, believe it or not, people can't remember all of them. Six Sigma practitioners have invented this acronym to help them remember easier.

4) 6M
Technically, it's not a kind of acronym but is a part of Fishbone Diagram. When you would like to find root causes of a problem, 6M is something you have to look into.

This acronym is from a marketing guru Peter Drucker. If you're currently using so many performance measurement, being SMART is something you should think about.

6) 5W1H
Popular among industrial engineers, this acronym is actually the poem by Rudyard Kipling.

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Journalists spread the words and later it's adopted by industrial engineers. 5W1H is also known as Kipling Method.

CATWOE is the part of the method called "Soft System Methodology" which is a branch of Soft Operational Research. Inside nutshell, CATWOE has something similar to Theory of Constraints and both of them are kind of system thinking method.

These analysis methods are not a rocket science. However, if you gather all important points, integrate them with the standardized supply chain processes such as SCOR Model or APQC to create a detailed analysis worksheet, this will create a lot of impact and bring the positive change to your supply chain process.