APICS Investigates Supply Chain Success

The nature of the electronics supply chain has shifted radically in recent decades, and more changes are yet to come. New research hopes to define and outline these modifications to help everyone involved get ready.

“In the past, we've looked at the supply chain, from logistics to procurement to company performance,” David Closs, chaired professor of business administration and John H. McConnell, chair of the department of supply chain management at Michigan State University (MSU), told us in an interview:

We had hypothesized that a certain set of capabilities and competencies are things that firms used to enhance performance in the supply chain. Over the last five to ten years, though, we have started to get idea that it is still true but there are other things that influence it.

The APICS Foundation, the research arm of the association for supply chain and operations management professionals, has teamed up with the MSU Department of Supply Chain Management to study and define the capabilities that are necessary to achieve strategic supply chain success.

“Supply chain optimization goes far beyond being better, faster, and cheaper,” said Closs in a press release. “We need to understand the factors that facilitate and inhibit the transformation of a supply-chain from tactical to strategic.”

Titled “Supply Chain Management: Beyond the Horizon,” the study will be carried out over two years, with initial results being released next year. The two organizations will work together to conduct a detailed literature review, case studies, Delphi surveys, workshops, and more, to create a multimethod research approach.

“The study examines factors in three areas: an organization's business model, management, and the interrelationship between the business model and supply chain operations,” Sharon Rice, executive director of the APICS Foundation, told EBN in an interview.

At first glance, it seems that relationships across the company and between business partners will be a key factor to success, as well as how and when organizations outsource major supply chain activities. “As firms move more to omnichannel business, they are going to the market in multiple ways,” said Closs. “It is important to consider that factor.”

Further, supply chain managers will have to become more strategic in their organizational roles as the supply chain becomes a strategic asset rather than just a cost center, added Rice.

In addition, although the study will be looking at the supply chain broadly, there may be lessons to be had from specific verticals. “On the electronics side, there's certainly a focus on very short product life cycles, so supply chain activities have to occur in weeks or at most, months,” said Closs. “Further, the electronic supply chains uses and shares a lot of resources across competitors so the question becomes how to manage that competition.”

In the end, APICS/MSU hopes to identify leadership traits culled in supply chain that other organizations can emulate and outline common principals and best practices in terms of supply chain management.

In the meantime, let's discuss it here: How can organizations use the supply chain to grow margins and expand their business? Share your thoughts below.

1 comment on “APICS Investigates Supply Chain Success

  1. SP
    September 12, 2013

    Supply chain is key strategic departments in an organization. It can make or break things. With the whole world becoming a common market, supply chain challenges have come down and expections from them haved been raised. Many consumer electronics companies that have strong reputations among business leaders and consumers ard the ones that have kept their supply chain partners or departments strong and loyal.

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