Drug maker goes social to end supply chain crisis

Extracted 27JUL2011 from http://links.eqentia.com/520b2ad1536d771f/?dst=http://www.computerworld.com/s/article/9218601/Drug_maker_goes_social_to_end_supply_chain_crisis%3Fsource%3Drss_networking&utm_campaign=visibli&utm_source=scm&utm_medium=twitter

"When the entire operation is stressed, it reverts to crisis mode," said Antonio Martins, who was vice president of supply chain in 2005 when he first introduced social collaboration tools at Ratiopharm. "We were in constant crisis mode. When the stress is lifted, suddenly things can be more orderly.... The entire operation becomes much more efficient."...

Martins also noted that he worked on the backbone of the supply chain, tweaking processes and systems. However, the collaboration changes were the key that enabled the company to be flexible and handle ordering and market surprises.

"If you look at a supply chain, you want it to go smoothly," Martins told Computerworld. "No problems. No delays. No snags. But that never happens. The supply chain gets interrupted many, many times because of surprises.... Any time there was a problem to stop the supply chain, like a technical problem or customers' wanting more product, any time there was a surprise, it took a long time for that information to get out. It took two to four months to find out anything was wrong. This was very, very common."

"We have to detect what's going on as soon as possible.... We didn't want the situation to go through a hierarchy because that takes too long for bosses to talk to bosses." ...the company had started using SharePoint, so he got his employees to use the software's message board. "Individuals would post the problem and other individuals would solve the problem," he explained. "We went from it taking two to four months to find out there was a problem, to two to four weeks, and then to a few hours or a couple of days."

While the pharmaceutical market continued to fluctuate, Ratiopharm and its supply chain stayed strong and flexible.