Navigating Supply Chain Challenges & Innovations

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Interview with Steve Delano from Grant Thornton

Mass Technology Leadership Council sat down with Steve Delano, Senior Manager, Growth Advisory Services at Grant Thornton, after our Supply Chain Conference. We discussed the impact of the recent Baltimore bridge collapse and explored how companies can navigate such challenges and leverage digitization for better supply chain efficiency. Let’s dive in!

We’ll start by you sharing what you do with Grant Thornton and how you engage with your clients regarding their supply chain strategies and the current challenges you’re involved with.

Steve: Grant Thornton provides audit, tax, and advisory services to businesses and not-for-profit institutions all over the world. Myself any the many other talented Advisory professionals I work with focuses on addressing growth-related challenges that are both operational and people-oriented. There is almost always a technology component as well, however the operating models and organizational components are first and foremost. We help clients with strategy analysis and operational execution. For example, we’re currently optimizing a consumer goods manufacturer’s distribution network, reducing miles and greenhouse gas emissions, and improving efficiency.

How do you work with companies to help them respond and pivot during unexpected events?

Steve: Effective contingency planning is crucial. During the recent Baltimore bridge collapse, our preemptive planning allowed us to quickly shift operations to alternative ports, minimizing disruptions. This involved setting up a task force to assess impacts and make informed decisions, ensuring a smooth transition despite increased short-term costs.

What changes do you see going forward in response to such events?

Steve: While events like the bridge collapse will not likely push more companies towards onshoring, these disruptions emphasize the need for robust risk management and contingency planning. Companies will likely double down on internal capabilities to handle future disruptions better and provide optionality.

How is digitization impacting supply chain operations, and what improvements are you seeing?

Steve: Digitization is transforming supply chains, particularly in more sophisticated supply and demand planning. Predictive analytics is informing more and more robust models that positively affect production and downstream inventory management. However, successful implementation requires thorough user testing and training to ensure high adoption to realize significant benefits – including like time reductions in planning activities.

How do you approach data strategy amidst digitization efforts?

Steve: It depends on the business maturity. For example, a start-up medical device company we work with is redefining its data capture strategy during ERP implementation. Whereas our Fortune 500 clients face challenges in democratizing and utilizing massive amounts of structured and unstructured data. Bridging the gap between data teams and operations is crucial for building effective models that optimize supply chain performance.

What challenges do companies face with M&A activity in integrating data into their systems?

Steve: M&A activities often present challenges of operating the business units on different ERP systems, which presents a host of issues! For example, a private equity owned aviation manufacturer that we work with had to spend years aligning on a common ERP system first and then ensure clean data mapping in order to aggregate its spend in the marketplace via a strategic sourcing project.  Understanding and integrating data across all acquisitions is a key activity that can significantly enhance sourcing and operational efficiency.


We hope you found Steve’s insights from Grant Thornton on managing supply chain disruptions and digitization valuable. Stay tuned for more expert and industry insights and keep an eye out for our next Tech Hot Topic Conference.



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