While driving robust growth, SABMiller’s focus on acquisitions and on building a strong presence in emerging markets also created a need for a comprehensive and consistent approach to talent development. Indeed, the company’s preparation for a major global technology implementation had revealed some significant issues related to SABMiller’s global talent.
In particular, within the company’s Latin American division, approximately 80 percent of employees who supported the company’s supply chain were found to have subpar skills in many critical areas, including supply planning, demand planning, and inventory management. These capability gaps not only would compromise the company’s return on its technology investments, but also would keep it from achieving its desired levels of operational and financial performance and overall competitiveness.
SABMiller’s director of supply chain for Latin America, Jaime Ochoa, knew this situation would need to be improved as quickly and cost-effectively as possible. Based on his previous experience with Accenture’s Supply Chain Academy while working for another major global consumer goods company, Ochoa also knew the value this proprietary asset could deliver. “When we compared the available training resources, nothing came close to the value offered by the Supply Chain Academy,” said Ochoa. “We knew Accenture would provide our people with a very broad range of content, all of which would reflect global best practices and would be available on a convenient and flexible basis."
Accenture’s Supply Chain Academy is the world’s most advanced and prevalent supply chain learning solution.
The Accenture Supply Chain Academy offers companies hundreds of courses—the largest and most comprehensive supply chain course library available from any learning provider—and provides this content through a flexible online portal designed specifically for supply chain professionals.
For SABMiller, however, the most appealing aspects of the Supply Chain Academy were the quality and breadth of its content, its ability to be implemented across regions, and its capacity to be tailored to the company’s specific capability gaps. Through the Supply Chain Academy, SABMiller could fill specific knowledge and skill gaps in a wide range of supply chain roles across its Latin American operations, and provide courses covering all supply chain functions—including procurement, planning, inventory management, logistics, manufacturing and customer service. In addition, SABMiller would be able to achieve all this on a flexible, scalable basis without building its own learning capabilities.
Confident the Supply Chain Academy was the right solution to help it ramp up its supply chain skills in Latin America and optimize its long-term performance, SABMiller worked closely with Accenture to lay the groundwork for a successful implementation.
To tailor the Supply Chain Academy to SABMiller’s specific needs and objectives, Accenture devised a pilot implementation to verify the Academy’s potential impact. Accenture worked closely with the global brewer to introduce approximately thirty SABMiller employees based in Colombia to the system, evaluating the fit between the Academy and the company’s overall learning needs and strategy.
At the heart of this evaluation was a careful analysis of the pilot group’s specific capability gaps and functional roles, and the suitability of the Supply Chain Academy for boosting their skills. SABMiller found that these employees—a group that included directors, vice presidents, and senior managers—had the greatest opportunity for improvement in terms of their forecasting and supply and demand planning capabilities.
With this knowledge in hand, the company collaborated with Accenture to design a tailored curriculum that would address these gaps within twelve months. Within that timeframe, Accenture delivered approximately twenty targeted courses to this pilot group, earning favorable reviews from all participants regarding the format of the Supply Chain Academy and its capacity to improve their skills significantly.
Through the pilot, SABMiller verified its belief that Accenture’s Supply Chain Academy could help it measurably improve its supply chain capabilities. Thus, the company moved to implement the Supply Chain Academy across a total of 300 users in Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, El Salvador, Panama, and Honduras. These users represented a wide swath of supply chain employees, from line managers to senior leadership. Based on lessons learned during the pilot implementation, Accenture tailored the full spectrum of Supply Chain Academy’s valuable content to these employees’ specific roles, competencies, and capability gaps. The implementation, which occurred over approximately seven weeks, encompassed the identification of Supply Chain Academy users, the design of tailored curricula for each user, and the configuration of a company specific online portal through which SABMiller employees could conveniently access and manage their courses.
Even though SABMiller’s use of Accenture’s Supply Chain Academy continues to evolve, the training program already has paid off. The way in which Accenture and SABMiller have collaborated to tailor the Supply Chain Academy to the brewer’s specific goals, challenges, and motivators has generated one of the highest participation rates of any Supply Chain Academy client. In fact, in just three months SABMiller employees participated in 900 courses, equivalent to more than 1,400 hours of training. The company’s use of the Supply Chain Academy continues to grow as well, with approximately 300 current daily users and additional expansion to other countries in the works.
Yet the benefits to SABMiller go far beyond participation in the Supply Chain Academy’s courses. “We are using the Supply Chain Academy to identify specific maturity gaps, fill them with tailored content, and measure the impact of that training on the business,” said Jaime Ochoa. “The Supply Chain Academy is helping us ensure that learning benefits the company in tangible ways."
In particular, SABMiller estimates that its overall supply chain management maturity has more than doubled in degree since its implementation of Accenture’s Supply Chain Academy. Importantly, this progress reflects improvements in demand and supply planning, both of which were identified as lagging capabilities prior to the project. And because SABMiller has strengthened these capabilities, it also has seen improvements in terms of inventory management and working capital. In sum, with stronger supply chain capabilities powered by a flexible and globally scalable platform, SABMiller is well on its way toward high performance.