The APQC Blog

How Do You Implement A Supply Chain Control Tower?

How Do You Implement A Supply Chain Control Tower?

As part of APQC’s annual research into priorities and challenges for the upcoming year, Marisa Brown conducts a global survey and interviews supply chain stakeholders from various industries and organizations. One of the people she spoke with this year, Stew Stremel, told her about an organization he works with that brings together global organizations to maximize a limited resource and get product to where it can do the most good. He described process work and joint collaborative planning and visibility work around multiple players.

Sharing data in order to better “see” and unblock the flow of products across an ecosystem of supply chain players is not easy. It requires a network of organizations that are willing to work in partnership – sharing information, redefining processes, and implementing mutually beneficial governance. And in many cases, the technology that enables the end-to-end visibility to navigate this complexity is referred to as a supply chain control tower. 

For many organizations, supply chain disruptions from the global pandemic increased the desire (and the need!) to embrace this critical ability to have a centralized view and the ability to respond flexibly when external conditions change. 

Where should a group of interested organizations even start? 

APQC is happy to share that you can now gain access to content from a successful global supply chain business network, the Global Family Planning Visibility and Analytics Network (VAN), in APQC’s Resource Library.  The VAN, hosted by the Reproductive Health Supplies Coalition (RHSC), connects people and information in new ways to transform how the reproductive health community makes supply chain decisions. 

The VAN Collection, hosted by APQC, includes case studies and guidance for organizations interested in developing a global supply chain business network with tools, examples, and templates to support the development of your own governance structure, legal frameworks, and technology platform.

While both non-profit organizations operate under a mandate to share lessons learned, APQC and RHSC have, to date, run in somewhat different circles, and this collaborative effort will go a long way in meshing two user groups, spotlighting public health supply chain concerns for the larger logistics and supply chain community.  

The COVID-19 pandemic shone the spotlight on the importance of supply chains and the need for visibility. We are all part of a wider supply chain ecosystem and need to find ways to work together to ensure resiliency. As Julia White shares, “It is exciting to see how the experiences of the public health sector can be shared to further learning in the wider supply chain community.”  

The VAN collection can be accessed free of charge by the public, but users will need to create a profile on the APQC platform. The collection includes the following actionable content items.

Case studies

Supply Chain Control Tower: Request for Proposal Templates

  • Supply chain control tower: This RFP template is useful to identify a technology solutions vendor for a control tower platform
  • Cost for a supply chain control tower: Vendors interested in responding to the RFP had to follow the instructions and format in this template to share their estimates on what it would cost to roll-out the technology solution they proposed.
  • Addendum for a supply chain control tower: This template is the place where the technology solution requirements were defined. Stakeholders and bidding vendors forged their collective “ask” via the definition of these requirements through collaborative review of documents as they were developed, formulated questions, and shared feedback. These requirements were then validated by community endorsers and a Steering Committee and were written-up in the addendum.
  • Supply Chain Control Tower Interface Specification and Guidelines: This guide captures the details of the overall integration architecture of the VAN control tower. The purpose of this guide is to provide system integration details to organizations that would like to integrate with the VAN.

Terms of Use and Data Use Rights Templates

Explore how the Global Family Planning Visibility and Analytics Network (VAN) control tower established compliance in the resources below. Both of these should be reviewed in parallel with the Sharing Data Across a Community case study.

  • Example Terms of Use for a Global Supply Chain Network Platform: This document is an example legal framework that can be used across a supply chain network of different organizations working together. It outlines the legal terms under which users can access and utilize a collaborative platform like a control tower.  
  • Example Data Use Rights Table for a Global Supply Chain Network Platform: This Data Use Rights Table is one of three components that make up the main legal framework of the Global Family Planning Visibility and Analytics Network (VAN). It is a roles-based table that clearly outlines the specific levels and categories of data each type of user can view when using the platform, and how they can use those data.

APQC appreciates the RHSC and the VAN for collaboratively and generously sharing their resources that showcase the unique and fully operational VAN control tower model. 

For additional information on the VAN and the value they bring to the community as a global good, please visit their website at Global Family Planning Visibility and Analytics Network (VAN).