Matthew W Ford
Thoughts on the Project Option (Updated 11/09/2011 09:03 PM )
The objective is to show me that you can apply the supply chain management concepts that we're covering in class to a real situation. Begin by selecting an organization. It could be a company where you work, a family owned business, a store that you frequent, or just a company that you'd like to learn more about.
Then, you want to describe the various supply chain related decisions that this organization has made. Here are some of the areas you should address:
Who is this company? What industry are they engaged in? How old are they? Is this a growing or mature industry? Who are the key competitors? Supporting financial data (revenues, profits, balance sheet info, etc) and market position (market share, growth, etc) will be useful.
Supply Chain Configuration
Diagram and explain the company's supply chain. You'll never be able to capture it all, but the more exhaustive you capture the upstream and downstream components of the supply chain, the better. It is also better to identify real upstream sellers and downstream buyers. For example, rather than labeling a supply chain link as 'distributor', it's better to find out who the distributor(s) is (are)--such as Ingram Micro in the PC distribution space. Yes, this will likely take some research to do well, but that's what this type of analysis is about.
Has the company's supply chain configuration recently changed? How and why?
What modes of transport does this organization use to move its inputs and outputs?
Does it make or buy logistics services? If they buy, who are the key logistics providers? One interesting thing you could do is follow the movement of a key input through upstream suppliers, the organization's operation, through downstream buyers to the end customer.
How is this company organized to manage transportation? For example, does this company have a director of transportation and/or a department that manages traffic?
Distribution Channels. Two step? One step? Direct? Combination of these? How do this company's products get to market? Are channel conflicts evident?
What are key input categories used by this company? Can you estimate the percent of annual revenues that go into expensing various inputs (such as raw materials)?
Make or buy. Does the company insource or outsource key inputs? Provide some examples. What advantages/disadvantages does their approach bring?
How many suppliers. Many? Single? Somewhere in between? Provide examples. What are the plusses/minuses of this approach?
How does this company select and/or qualify suppliers? Is there a formal process involved? Examples?
What are some key categories of inventory for this company? What is the dollar value of inventory by location (raw materials, WIP, FGI).
Can you knit together estimates for entire supply chain inventory?
How can you demonstrate Little's Law here?
Is this organization operating a 'push' or 'pull' system? How do you know?
Any insight on material handling practices (warehouse layout, layout, cross docking, etc)?
How does the company track downstream demand, order, inventory, upstream activity with suppliers, etc?
Is information in this supply chain centralized or decentralized? How do you know?
Supply Chain Measurement
What are key metrics of asset management effectiveness such as inventory turns, days sales in inventory? How do these metrics compare to competitiors? Is the company improving year over year?
How is the company's supply chain designed to withstand potential problems or breakdowns (e.g., process failures, strikes, weather events, terrorism).
Now that you've described their supply chain situation, it's time to lay a critical eye to it. Here are just a few potential issues to consider:
Configuration. Does the supply chain configuration need to change? How? What potential benefits might a redesign provide? Want to REALLY score some points? Compare your company's supply chain configuration to a key competitors.
Logistics. Can the company do better? Outsourcing (or perhaps insourcing) transportation functions. Intermodal problems/opportunities?
Distribution. Should the company be considering alternative distribution channels such as a direct approach? Are there channel conflicts--e.g., two step vs direct?
Purchasing. Making vs buying. Number of suppliers. Process for qualifying and evaluating suppliers. How can the company improve in this area?
Inventory. How can the company improve its practices in this area?
Information systems. Is the company still in the dark ages with respect to information management--particularly with their upstream suppliers and downstream customers? What alternatives are available to this company to improve information management with their supply chain members?
Material handling. What practices might help the company improve their handling and warehousing capabilities?
Metrics. How would you routinely measure supply chain management effectiveness for this company?
Risk management. How can the company better manage its supply chain against potential for loss?
Other issues are possible...am just rattling a few off here. The key is to BE CRITICAL here. Even the best run companies in the world have many opportunities to improve their supply chain management practices.
Comments on Format
The more you connect with the concepts we've talked about in class, the more I'll like it.
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