Improving supply chain performance through auditing: a change management perspective

C. Atilgan, Peter McCullen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose – Quick scan audit methodology (QSAM) has been adapted to include some change management practices. This paper seeks to relate how the company's dissemination feedback presentation sessions and implementation team-work added value to the established QSAM by: offering a new method of demonstrating a “listening ear” to employees, providing enhanced verification of the QS results, increasing “buy in” and offering the possibility of a deeper knowledge transfer and increased audit accuracy. Design/methodology/approach – This action research project is oriented around diagnosis and improvement of Company A's production-planning process using an adapted QSAM procedure, and a qualitative investigation into the effect of increasing employee participation in QSAM with a view to increasing its potential as a change management tool. The primary research was largely conducted through semi-structured interviews designed according to role. An important change management dimension of the primary research was to clearly explain the purpose of the audit at the beginning of each interview. A total of 16 interviews were conducted. The data collected were analysed using standard techniques including: process mapping, Ishikawa cause and effect diagrams, why-why-why and Pareto analysis. The accuracy of the company's existing forecasting was measured using mean absolute percentage error (MAPE). The uncertainty circle diagram was used to provide a higher level of analysis, categorising the causes of uncertainty into: supply side, process side, demand side and control side. Once the findings had been presented to the business champion and senior managers, the main findings and suggested solutions were presented throughout the company in a series of six presentations to 40 people over a period of ten days. Findings – A human-centred QS was successfully applied to Company A with limited resources. With the application of mathematical forecasting models, the forecasting error (MAPE) was reduced from an average of 22 to 18 per cent. Completion of production schedules was increased from 96 to 98 per cent, while packaging efficiency increased from 94 to 96 per cent. Most importantly, the company have established a “road-map” to achieve a better and more flexible supply chain. The QSAM is a robust auditing tool, but it does not take account of potential resistance to change. Company A have adapted the QSAM to include some basic change management practices, effectively extending its feedback stages through wider dissemination, in order to build consensus and to improve the response to change. Research limitations/implications – On the basis of a single case study conducted in a UK food-manufacturing company, “change management” appears to be compatible with supply chain audit, where this is conducted as a means of driving improvement. The effectiveness of the project is judged via “hard” rather than “soft” measures of supply chain performance. Further external verification would be necessary to generalise from this research, and future research directions are indicated in the paper. Practical implications – Supply chain improvement projects involving supply chain audit can be enhanced through the integration of change management practices. Originality/value – The originality of the research stems from the integration of change management practices into the established QSAM.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)11-19
Number of pages9
JournalSupply Chain Management: An International Journal
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Auditing
  • Change management
  • Supply chain management


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