In a recent panel discussion with Consumer Goods Technology, Conagra Brands shared how its reworked supply chain strategy is helping the brand meet customer expectations, drive internal performance and find consistent results by transforming supply chain planning.

Conagra is a popular North American food manufacturer with brands in every aisle at the grocery store. It operates 42 internal manufacturing plants and more than 34 points of distribution across multiple temperature states.

Blue Yonder is proud to be a trusted supply chain solutions provider of Conagra. This blog explores the technology vision that the market needs to embrace, which was discussed during the webinar, in order to adapt to a more customer-centric supply chain. Lance Maddex, Vice President Supply Chain, Conagra; our own Shri Hariharan, CVP of Industry Strategy, Blue Yonder; and Santosh Kumar, Associate Director of Supply Chain, Accenture, joined the panel conversation. They also discussed best practices for maintaining supply chain control through unpredictable disruptions. You can watch the full on-demand webinar here.

Building a Customer-centric Supply Chain

To operate the supply chain at the next level of efficiency and customer-centricity, consumer packaged goods (CPG) and other manufacturers are desiring to have increased transparency, speed and agility. These three elements are needed fora business transformation to be successful.

Conagra’s speaker discussed the need to modernize their supply chain with the goal to be fast. He emphasized the importance of speed and the power of real-time visibility. For example, the company worked toward executing the integrated business process quicker and more dynamically with additional scenarios and iterations, so as to free up their employees to work on continuous improvement. The company also improved its operations by looking at downstream logistics, modeling capacities at warehouses, and optimizing inbound and outbound operations together. He believes that strong supply chains will continue to add value to the business like the ability to adapt to changes, be flexible, and deliver results.

According to Shri, Blue Yonder’s perspective is that manufacturers need to improve these three elements together with the help of a supply chain planning solution and Control Tower solution. As part of the business transformation, the supply chain planning solution considers constraints of the entire network using a clear set of workflows so that the right insights, analytics and augmentation can be readily supplied to the decision-makers.

Then, the feasible plan is communicated with supply chain execution, which will put the plan into action. When events that may disrupt operations and other exceptions occur,  the Control Tower solution brings visibility and insights in a near real-time manner. The solution also predicts the possible impacts and suggests resolutions.

The Accenture speaker added three trends to the discussion: collaboration, cloud as a foundation for innovations and connections, and, most importantly, the talent strategy. The new skill targets are not about improving digital fluency or bringing digital literacy. Rather, it is about creating a cross-functional mindset, broadening employees’ horizons and speed.

Blue Yonder Empowers Manufacturers

Blue Yonder enables continuous and integrated planning and execution with a platform that not only brings solutions together but enriches the decision-making process with insights and data. We apply advanced techniques that analyze causal factors and the context, such as why certain things happen and why consumers make certain decisions. When you start to aggregate those context factors, you are able to apply many newer models that may be AI/ML based.

These newer models are more agile. They are not only predicting the short-term demand by looking at promotions and demand-shaping activities that companies in the CPG space are activating over the next 30, 60 and 90 days, but also analyzing category data. The models look at what’s happening across categories to understand what the long-term integrated business planning decisions would look like in a unified view.

Creating that unified view with one solution that can look at short-, medium- and long-term horizons allows cross-functional stakeholders, customer service, and the logistics team to respond to events happening at the moment. In addition, the tactical demand and supply planning team and network planners can collaborate and make end-to-end decisions. Then, the commercial and brand teams have more time to focus on growing the business by analyzing what is happening in the marketplace. Bringing all these elements together is foundational and essential for business transformation and improvement to occur. That’s one area where Blue Yonder and its solutions excel.

Start thinking about how to use this foundation and the elements mentioned above to help create better plans and execute seamlessly. When you think about how to improve planning, warehousing, logistics, and distribution, you have to realize that the whole paradigm is changing across the supply chain because of e-commerce and omni-channel requirements. You have more insights and time now to think about how to make the best decisions in deploying inventory across the network. Then any time when demand signals change, you have the ability to manage the network with intelligence to source this demand from the right location without needing to split orders. Therefore, you are no longer constrained by a static decision framework.

Watch the full on-demand conversation with Conagra, Blue Yonder and Accenture at Consumer Goods Technology here.

Learn more about Blue Yonder’s supply planning solution and Luminate® Control Tower.

Join our Blue Yonder Live session “Digital Supply Chains Change the Game in Consumer Goods” on Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. ET with Shri and myself to explore how leading digital supply chain practices are helping firms spot emerging trends; align customer operations, manufacturing and logistics assets; and create meaningful partnerships by applying data-driven decisioning.

Terence Leung is the Global Senior Solutions Marketing Director overseeing supply chain planning, execution, control tower and platform. Connect to him on LinkedIn.