SCO Communication Map


One of the key barriers to supply chain optimization is the breakdown in communication between operators, suppliers, and distributors.  Collaborative communication was identified as the top challenge to supply optimization in the survey conducted with the Supply Chain Optimization (SCO) Development Board participants prior to the start of our work.  In early Board discussions, many organizations identified that they were only communicating important information to one partner and not sharing that useful information to the other (e.g. operator sharing LTO planning information with supplier but not distributor).

The Board quickly decided that a framework was needed to help facilitate communication between all three partners.  They developed the Communication Map that defines over 70 communication flows between partners.  Within the Communication Map is helpful information on which functions commonly provided the information, which function commonly use the information and what is the most common timing on which the information is communicated.  Additionally, the Board identified 9 data flows that are most critical to enabling supply chain optimization.


Communication is key to any collaborative relationship and especially critical when you have at least three organizations involved that must move in concert together to ensure not only the product is available when a consumer wants it but also that there is limited waste in the system.  The Communication Map can enable partners to develop a more effective approach to communication.


Organizations can use the Communication Map to benchmark their current communication approach.  Some specific questions that organizations can use the communication map to help address include:

  • Are we sharing the right information with our partners?
  • Is there information that we are sharing today that needs to be simplified or eliminated?
  • What functions within our partners’ organizations do we need to establish direct communication with?
  • What is the optimal timing for sharing and receiving information?

The Communication Map framework can facilitate an open discussion on communication between partners and help partners develop a comprehensive communication approach.

Worksheets & Tools