The CIO’s Role in Maintaining a Strong Supply Chain: An Interview With Joe Velez at Ultra Consultants

Recent disruptions to the global supply chain have affected businesses at all levels, including IT. From supporting a remote workforce to transitioning entire workflows into digital tools, the CIO plays a key leadership role in supply chain management.

We spoke with supply chain expert Joe Velez, Service Delivery Manager for Ultra Consultants, about the CIO’s evolving role.

Read more: Best Supply Chain Management Software

Interview With Joe Velez at Ultra Consultants

CIO Insight: What role should an enterprise CIO play in maintaining a strong supply chain?

Velez: The CIO needs to understand that they can facilitate and improve on business processes by providing the technology that enables best practices via new technological improvements. For example, it’s the CIO who recommends and implements the appropriate ERP solution for enhanced processes to help the supply chain manage its lead times and capacities.

Therefore, the CIO’s role is to decompose business process flows and figure out the leading practices to enable them. Good CIOs are connected at the hip with other company executives, and therefore know what the questions are in order to figure out and implement the best IT processes.

CIO Insight: What makes this task so important?

Velez: This task is so important because the future state of the business depends on it. The CIO has to help develop the IT strategy that supports the business strategies. Its enablement requires people, processes, equipment, and technology in a process that flows from strategy to enablement to success — and the most effective CIOs are involved at both the first and second steps in the process.

CIO Insight: What’s the biggest mistake CIOs make when addressing supply chain issues?

Velez: The biggest mistake that CIOs make when addressing supply chain issues is that they fail to see that it is a process excellence journey, rather than a computer technology project. Because of this, they miss the business strategy and fail to understand what excellence should be.

For example, you can implement a lean supply chain using ERP solutions without pushing against perceived competing goals by promoting awareness about the use of IT in supply chains, and creating trust among supply chain partners.

CIO Insight: What’s the best way a CIO can coordinate efforts with enterprise business leaders?

Velez: The best way a CIO can coordinate efforts with enterprise business leaders is to be one and to make certain that IT’s efforts are plugged into the business’s strategy. This includes coordinating branding, supporting people’s alignment for change, supporting the communication process, and supporting technology change.

These also happen to be the terms for sea change:

  • Including the company strategy and culture
  • Ensuring alignment of the right people
  • Communicating the processes throughout the organization
  • Putting the processes in place by executing on the plan, then monitoring results and managing change

CIO Insight: Is there anything else you would like to add?

Velez: The CIO’s role should also include helping to overcome cultural barriers to change. Complacency, low expectations for doing better, learned helplessness in the belief of not being able to make a difference, and passive acceptance of things the way they are, are all barriers to change.

By maintaining alignment with the company’s vision, the CIO can help it achieve value measurements of company milestones by enabling its people to experience positive change — like maintaining a strong supply chain, via providing the technological solutions to enable the experiences that drive actions and lead to results.

Note: This interview has been edited for clarity.

Read more: What Is the Supply Chain Management Process?

About Joe Velez

Joe Velez headshotJoe Velez has over 30 years of experience working in large, multi-national manufacturing and distribution companies.

His background includes all aspects of supply chain management, program management, strategic planning, operations management, business process re-design, ERP implementation management, and Lean Transformation.

Joe began his career with ALCOA as a process engineer and held numerous leadership positions across engineering, sourcing, operations planning, logistics, maintenance, IT, and strategic planning functions.

Joe holds a Bachelor of Science and a Master of Science in industrial engineering from the University of Puerto Rico and has done extensive graduate research in the areas of lean manufacturing / transformation, factory physics, theory of constraints, and High-Performance Leadership.

He has served on ALCOA’s Science and Technology advisory council, on the governing board of MIT’s Leaders for Manufacturing program, as well as on engineering advisory boards at the University of Iowa, Iowa State University, and University of Wisconsin Quick Response Manufacturing Center. Joe is a co-founding member of the Industrial Engineering program at St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa.

Read next: Meeting Tech Talent Where They Are: An Interview with Clay Kellogg at Terminal

Michael Bonebright
Michael Bonebright
Michael Bonebright serves as editor of several web properties in the TechnologyAdvice network. He has more than 15 years of experience in publishing and marketing for both B2B and B2C audiences. He holds a B.A. in English from the University of Alabama in Huntsville.

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