Understanding the Value Chain Analysis Process: A Step-by-Step Guide

A host of small white and dark blue boxes combine to create a series of abstract alternating white and dark blue chains positioned horizontally over a teal-coloured background.

In today’s business landscape, understanding and optimizing your operations through a value chain analysis is crucial. Let’s delve into this concept and explore how to maximize its potential for your business.

What is Value Chain Analysis?

At its core, Value Chain Analysis is a methodical approach to understanding the key activities within an organization that contribute to its ability to deliver value to the market. Introduced by Michael Porter in his 1985 book Competitive Advantage: Creating and Sustaining Superior Performance, it entails identifying all vital activities that contribute to a product’s or service’s lifecycle.

These activities are broadly classified into primary and support activities (also called secondary activities). Primary activities directly contribute to the production, sale, maintenance, and delivery of a product or service, while support activities, although not directly involved in production, may help increase effectiveness or efficiency, giving a company a competitive edge.

Discover more about what makes up a value chain and how it differs from the supply chain here.

Purpose and Benefits of the Value Chain Analysis Process

The main objective of Value Chain Analysis is to identify areas where an enterprise can add value to its offerings, consequently improving performance and securing a competitive advantage. 

Value chain analysis plays an integral role in strategic management, enabling businesses to:

      1. Deeply understand their operations: By breaking down the company’s activities, businesses gain a granular view of their operations, discovering areas for improvement.
      2. Identify inefficiencies: By observing the connections and dependencies among activities, businesses can pinpoint bottlenecks and inefficiencies, leading to process improvement and cost reduction.
      3. Improve value proposition: Businesses can enhance their offerings and improve their value proposition to buyers, leading to increased customer satisfaction and loyalty.
      4. Strategize for better performance and profitability: Finally, understanding the value chain provides strategic insights, enabling businesses to better position themselves in the market.


    Value chain analysis enables businesses to compete not just on price but on the unique value they offer, leading to a competitive advantage that lasts and, ultimately, more success.

    Step-by-Step Guide to the Value Chain Analysis Process

    Step 1: Identify Primary Activities

    Primary activities are the bedrock of a company’s value chain. They directly contribute to the creation, sale, and service of a product. 

    These activities include:

        1. Inbound logistics: This involves all the processes related to receiving, storing, and distributing the inputs internally. For example, material handling, warehousing, inventory control, and vehicle scheduling.
        2. Operations: This covers all activities required to transform inputs into outputs (products and services), such as machining, packaging, assembly, equipment maintenance, testing, and quality assurance.
        3. Outbound logistics: This refers to activities required to get the final product into the hands of the customer, including warehousing, order fulfillment, transportation, distribution management, and outbound delivery operations.
        4. Financial Management: This covers activities related to the back-end administrative tasks and all order-to-cash activities.
        5. Marketing and sales: These are the activities that get buyers to actually purchase the product or service, including choosing the marketing channel, advertising, promotion, selling, pricing, retail management, and marketing communications.
        6. Services: This addresses after-sale customer support, including installation, customer support, repair services, training, parts supply, and product adjustment.


      As an experienced value chain management partner to countless CPG brands, we at Thomas, Large & Singer proudly provide tailored value chain solutions that make your inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics and financial management activities more efficient and effective.

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      Tips on Identifying Primary Activities for Your Company

      Understanding your company’s primary activities requires a deep dive into your operations. You need to map out your production process, from sourcing raw materials to delivering the final product or service to customers. Remember that each step presents an opportunity for creating added value.

      Step 2: Identify Support Activities

      While not directly involved in production, support activities play a pivotal role in enhancing the efficiency and effectiveness of primary activities. 

      They include:

      1. Procurement: This is the process of onbtaining the resources required by the company for its operations. Procurement is not just limited to raw materials for production, but also includes resources like human resources, technology, and real estate.
      2. Technology development: This includes activities related to managing and processing information, as well as the protection of knowledge assets. It could be the creation of new products (R&D), process automation, design, and other systemic efforts to boost the value of the product.
      3. Human resource management: This involves activities associated with recruiting, hiring, training, development, and compensation of employees and all personnel-related activities.
      4. Firm infrastructure: This encompasses support systems and functions that allow day-to-day operations to occur, like finance, legal, quality management, management information systems, and other overhead functions.

      Tips on Identifying Support Activities for Your Company

      The identification of support activities requires understanding the various processes and functions that underpin primary activities. A comprehensive understanding of your company’s processes, technologies, human resources, and infrastructure is necessary. Once these activities are identified, their relationship with primary activities should be explored for potential cost savings and performance enhancements.

      Step 3: Evaluate Costs and Linkages

      Importance of Cost Evaluation in the Value Chain Analysis Process

      Every value-adding activity incurs a cost, and understanding these costs is crucial to gaining a competitive advantage. It allows a company to identify where cost reductions are possible and where investments may be beneficial.

      Identifying Linkages and Their Role in Cost Optimization

      Linkages in a value chain are interactions between different activities; for example, the way in which a company’s distribution method (a primary activity) impacts its customer service (a support activity). Understanding these interconnections helps a company to optimize its processes and reduce unnecessary costs.

      Step 4: Analyze Competitive Advantage

      Determining Strengths and Weaknesses

      With the information collected, a company can now analyze its competitive strengths and weaknesses. This involves looking at the company’s unique resources, capabilities, and how well it performs each activity in comparison to its competitors.

      Tips on Leveraging the Value Chain Analysis for Competitive Advantage

      Value chain analysis can help a company develop strategies that exploit its relative strengths and minimize its weaknesses. This could be through better cost management, differentiation of products, or improving efficiencies in the value chain.

      Step 5: Create an Action Plan

      Setting Goals and Objectives

      The final step involves developing an action plan based on insights from the value chain analysis. This should entail defining clear goals and objectives, such as cost reduction targets, performance benchmarks, or improving customer satisfaction.

      Prioritizing Improvements and Measuring Success

      Once goals are set, initiatives should be prioritized based on their potential impact and feasibility.  It’s also essential to establish metrics to measure the success of these initiatives to ensure continuous improvement and optimization.

      How Thomas, Large & Singer Can Help with Your Value Chain Analysis Process

      Expertise and Experience in CPG Value Chain Analysis

      At Thomas, Large & Singer (TLS), we bring years of experience in providing effective value chain solutions for the consumer packaged goods (CPG) industry. Our team of professionals understand the complexities of North American CPG market and are equipped to provide tailored solutions to enhance your value chain efficiency.

      Tailored Solutions for Your Unique Business Needs

      Every business is unique, and so are its challenges and opportunities. At TLS, we offer customized solutions that meet your specific needs. Our holistic approach to value chain management allows us to deliver strategies that optimize your operations, maximize value, and improve overall performance.

      Look to the Experienced Team at Thomas, Large & Singer as Your Partner in Value Chain Management

      With a history dating back to 1912, TLS has evolved to be a leading name in value chain solutions for the CPG industry. Our commitment to delivering exceptional results through a 360-degree suite of services and our established North American distribution network make us your go-to partner for value chain management.

      Understanding and implementing value chain analysis can revolutionize your business operations. Embrace this process today to unlock its numerous benefits by calling us now. Our team at Thomas, Large & Singer is ready to answer any questions and guide you on your journey to success.

      Remember: The value of a chain lies in its links. Strengthen yours with us!

      Contact TLS

      Tap into Thomas, Large & Singer’s century of experience as a valued partner in the CPG industry. Contact us today to learn more about how our talented team can help your business overcome food transport challenges and more as your full-service, lead logistics and warehousing company.

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