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Tuesday, 10 September 2013

Business Process Integration for Supply Chain Management

Successful SCM requires a change from managing individual functions to integrating activities into key supply chain processes. In an example scenario, a purchasing department places orders as its requirements become known. The marketing department, responding to customer demand, communicates with several distributors and retailers as it attempts to determine ways to satisfy this demand. Information shared between supply chain partners can only be fully leveraged through process integration.
Supply chain business process integration involves collaborative work between buyers and suppliers, joint product development, common systems, and shared information. According to Lambert and Cooper (2000), operating an integrated supply chain requires a continuous information flow. However, in many companies, management has concluded that optimizing product flows cannot be accomplished without implementing a process approach. The key supply chain processes stated by Lambert (2004) are:
  • Customer relationship management
  • Customer service management
  • Demand management style
  • Order fulfillment
  • Manufacturing flow management
  • Supplier relationship management
  • Product development and commercialization
  • Returns management
Much has been written about demand management. Best-in-class companies have similar characteristics, which include the following:
  • Internal and external collaboration
  • Initiatives to reduce lead time
  • Tighter feedback from customer and market demand
  • Customer-level forecasting
One could suggest other critical supply business processes that combine these processes stated by Lambert, such as:
  1. Customer service management
  2. Procurement
  3. Product development and commercialization
  4. Manufacturing flow management/support
  5. Physical distribution
  6. Outsourcing/partnerships
  7. Performance measurement
  8. Warehousing management
a) Customer service management process
Customer relationship management concerns the relationship between an organization and its customers. Customer service is the source of customer information. It also provides the customer with real-time information on scheduling and product availability through interfaces with the company's production and distribution operations. Successful organizations use the following steps to build customer relationships:
  • determine mutually satisfying goals for organization and customers
  • establish and maintain customer rapport
  • induce positive feelings in the organization and the customers
b) Procurement process
Strategic plans are drawn up with suppliers to support the manufacturing flow management process and the development of new products. In firms whose operations extend globally, sourcing may be managed on a global basis. The desired outcome is a relationship where both parties benefit and a reduction in the time required for the product's design and development. The purchasing function may also develop rapid communication systems, such as electronic data interchange (EDI) and Internet linkage, to convey possible requirements more rapidly. Activities related to obtaining products and materials from outside suppliers involve resource planning, supply sourcing, negotiation, order placement, inbound transportation, storage, handling, and quality assurance, many of which include the responsibility to coordinate with suppliers on matters of scheduling, supply continuity, hedging, and research into new sources or programs.
c) Product development and commercialization
Here, customers and suppliers must be integrated into the product development process in order to reduce the time to market. As product life cycles shorten, the appropriate products must be developed and successfully launched with ever-shorter time schedules in order for firms to remain competitive. According to Lambert and Cooper (2000), managers of the product development and commercialization process must:
  1. coordinate with customer relationship management to identify customer-articulated needs;
  2. select materials and suppliers in conjunction with procurement; and
  3. develop production technology in manufacturing flow to manufacture and integrate into the best supply chain flow for the given combination of product and markets.
d) Manufacturing flow management process
The manufacturing process produces and supplies products to the distribution channels based on past forecasts. Manufacturing processes must be flexible in order to respond to market changes and must accommodate mass customization. Orders are processes operating on a just-in-time (JIT) basis in minimum lot sizes. Changes in the manufacturing flow process lead to shorter cycle times, meaning improved responsiveness and efficiency in meeting customer demand. This process manages activities related to planning, scheduling, and supporting manufacturing operations, such as work-in-process storage, handling, transportation, and time phasing of components, inventory at manufacturing sites, and maximum flexibility in the coordination of geographical and final assemblies postponement of physical distribution operations.
e) Physical distribution
This concerns the movement of a finished product or service to customers. In physical distribution, the customer is the final destination of a marketing channel, and the availability of the product or service is a vital part of each channel participant's marketing effort. It is also through the physical distribution process that the time and space of customer service become an integral part of marketing. Thus it links a marketing channel with its customers (i.e., it links manufacturers, wholesalers, and retailers).
f) Outsourcing/partnerships
This includes not just the outsourcing of the procurement of materials and components, but also the outsourcing of services that traditionally have been provided in house. The logic of this trend is that the company will increasingly focus on those activities in the value chain in which it has a distinctive advantage and outsource everything else. This movement has been particularly evident in logistics, where the provision of transport, warehousing, and inventory control is increasingly subcontracted to specialists or logistics partners. Also, managing and controlling this network of partners and suppliers requires a blend of central and local involvement: strategic decisions are taken centrally, while the monitoring and control of supplier performance and day-to-day liaison with logistics partners are best managed locally.
g) Performance measurement
Experts found a strong relationship from the largest arcs of supplier and customer integration to market share and profitability. Taking advantage of supplier capabilities and emphasizing a long-term supply chain perspective in customer relationships can both be correlated with a firm's performance. As logistics competency becomes a critical factor in creating and maintaining competitive advantage, measuring logistics performance becomes increasingly important, because the difference between profitable and unprofitable operations becomes narrower. A.T. Kearney Consultants (1985) noted that firms engaging in comprehensive performance measurement realized improvements in overall productivity. According to experts, internal measures are generally collected and analyzed by the firm, including cost, customer service, productivity, asset measurement, and quality. External performance is measured through customer perception measures and "best practice" benchmarking.
h) Warehousing management
To reduce a company's cost and expenses, warehousing management is carrying the valuable role against operations. In the case of perfect storage and office with all convenient facilities in company level, reducing manpower cost, dispatching authority with on time delivery, loading & unloading facilities with proper area, area for service station, stock management system etc.

Sustainability and social responsibility in supply chains

Supply chain sustainability is a business issue affecting an organization's supply chain or logistics network, and is frequently quantified by comparison with SECH ratings, which uses a triple bottom line incorporating economic, social, and environmental aspects. SECH ratings are defined as social, ethical, cultural, and health' footprints. Consumers have become more aware of the environmental impact of their purchases and companies' SECH ratings and, along with non-governmental organizations (NGOs), are setting the agenda for transitions to organically grown foods, anti-sweatshop labor codes, and locally produced goods that support independent and small businesses. Because supply chains may account for over 75% of a company's carbon footprint, many organizations are exploring ways to reduce this and thus improve their SECH rating.
For example, in July 2009, Wal-Mart announced its intentions to create a global sustainability index that would rate products according to the environmental and social impacts of their manufacturing and distribution. The index is intended to create environmental accountability in Wal-Mart's supply chain and to provide motivation and infrastructure for other retail companies to do the same.
More recently, the US Dodd–Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act, signed into law by President Obama in July 2010, contained a supply chain sustainability provision in the form of the Conflict Minerals law. This law requires SEC-regulated companies to conduct third party audits of their supply chains in order to determine whether any tin, tantalum, tungsten, or gold (together referred to as) is mined or sourced from the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and create a report (available to the general public and SEC) detailing the due diligence efforts taken and the results of the audit. The chain of suppliers and vendors to these reporting companies will be expected to provide appropriate supporting information.
Incidents like the 2013 Savar building collapse with more than 1,100 victims have led to widespread discussions about corporate social responsibility across global supply chains. Wieland and Handfield (2013) suggest that companies need to audit products and suppliers and that supplier auditing needs to go beyond direct relationships with first-tier suppliers. They also demonstrate that visibility needs to be improved if supply cannot be directly controlled and that smart and electronic technologies play a key role to improve visibility. Finally, they highlight that collaboration with local partners, across the industry and with universities is crucial to successfully managing social responsibility in supply chains.   

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