Home > Articles > Business & Management

Introduction to the Supply Chain Game Changers: Applications and Best Practices that are Shaping the Future of Supply Chain Management

  • Print
  • + Share This
The authors of The Supply Chain Game Changers introduce their book, which brings together advanced supply chain practices that yield significant, enduring business advantage.
This chapter is from the book

At the University of Tennessee, we do a great deal of research on leading-edge supply chain concepts that run the gamut from future supply chain megatrends to logistics operations. One publication even ranked us number one in the world for supply chain academic research output.1

We have learned much about modern supply chains and even more about how to manage them. But after numerous conversations with industry partners, we concluded that we needed to do a better job reaching the practitioner community. We were not adequately communicating our findings to the supply chain professionals who were doing the real work, or to the leaders who were struggling with the daily challenges of supply chain operations.

Supply chain professionals are very busy people. They are continuously engulfed in a maelstrom of events ranging from angry customers to damaged shipments, and they all must be addressed immediately. They know they need to keep developing professionally, but have precious little time to do so—and even less time to read documents written by academics, for academics. What we had to do as supply chain researchers, then, was publicize our game-changing findings as accessible, highly substantive material.

In 2012, we launched the Supply Chain Game Changers series of white papers to do just that. We have written six of these white papers thus far, with topics ranging from global supply chain management to distribution-center best practices. These papers have enjoyed great success in the professional community, so we thought it was time to put a bow around that work and publish it in a book that supply chain professionals could use as a single reference on a variety of topics that we will describe later in this introduction. Each white paper represents a chapter in this book. As the series of white papers continues to grow, we will periodically publish additional sets of workbooks for the many dedicated practitioners of supply chain management.

One of the fundamental concepts of this book is that of game-changing trends in supply chain management. These trends are significantly impacting how leaders shape their supply chains today. Our research allowed us to group these trends into four major areas as shown in Figure 1.

Figure 1

Figure 1 GSCI SC game changers model

The six topics in this book fit nicely into this framework. In Figure 2, you can see the first topic, “Game-Changing Trends,” at the core of the diagram. The “Global Supply Chains” topic is next in an inner circle touching all of the subjects. Then the four remaining chapters reside on the outside: “Managing Risk in the Supply Chain,” “Collaboration: Bending the Chain,” “Supply Chain Talent Management,” and “Distribution-Center Management.”

Figure 2

Figure 2 GSCI SC game changers model link to this book

Chapter 1 starts at the core, with a description of 10 game-changing trends in supply chain management. Fresh ideas about game-changing trends arise constantly and are highly dynamic. In this chapter, we define game-changing trends as those trends that are extremely impactful on a firm’s economic profit and shareholder value while also being very difficult to successfully address. In addition, we included an addendum that takes a long look ahead and considers how these trends may play out by 2025.

Our interactions with hundreds of companies helped us develop this list of 10 game-changers. Not only do we identify the supply chain trends that you will face in modern industry, but also we provide recommendations for how to make progress toward desired end states. We also use plenty of real-world examples along the way to make these concepts more applicable to typical business practice.

Chapter 1 also includes an addendum. While the changes occurring in supply chain thought and practice during the first 15 years of the 21st century were significant, many experts predict that even more substantial change will occur over the next decade. In fact, the supply chain world of 2025 promises to look very different from the one today. This addendum extrapolates on the state of the original 10 game-changing trends in order to predict the evolution of supply chain management over the coming decade. In addition, it identifies five new trends that are likely to be influential in driving the changing supply chain between 2015 and 2025.

Chapter 2 then moves to the topic that arguably encompasses all of the others: the global supply chain environment. Most firms have global suppliers and/or global customers. Supply chain professionals know that they somehow need to manage this complex worldwide network in order to provide better service to customers while simultaneously delivering lower costs and inventory levels.

In this chapter, we provide a series of best-practice recommendations to help meet these daunting challenges. These are based on the EPIC (economy, politics, infrastructure, and competence) framework from the recent book, Global Supply Chains: Evaluating Regions on an EPIC Framework.2 In this chapter, we also break down the best practices for supply chain network design in the global environment, as well as best practices for managing complex global supply chains. Chapter 2 is intended to provide valuable tools for supply chain leaders to design and manage a winning global supply chain.

Chapter 3 explores risk in the global supply chain. Over the last decade, many companies have faced extreme supply chain challenges that have stretched their capabilities to the breaking point. Both the preponderance of natural disasters and huge economic swings have caused challenges across the supply chain. These challenges are certainly not going away.

Supply chains, which once functioned almost on autopilot, face many dangers today in both global and domestic markets. Due to its global nature and systemic impact on the firm’s financial performance, the supply chain arguably faces more risk than other areas of the company. Risk is a fact of life for any supply chain, whether it is dealing with quality and safety challenges, supply shortages, legal issues, security problems, regulatory and environmental compliance, weather and natural disasters, or terrorism. This chapter discusses best practices for identifying, prioritizing, and mitigating risk.

Chapter 4 explores warehouse management best practices, a topic we refer to as the “ABCs of DCs.” We felt that it was important to have a topic in this book dealing with supply chain and logistics execution. Logistics professionals who operate distribution centers (DCs) have a tough job. Management constantly challenges these leaders to cut cost, which basically means doing more with less. With cost cutting as their primary focus, they also need to make sure that customer responsiveness does not suffer, and in fact improves. This calls for a highly advanced management skill set. Chapter 4 covers a wide range of DC management best practices, from picking/receiving to people to sustainability.

Chapter 5 delves into the very challenging field of cross-functional integration. In the supply chain audits that we have conducted over the years, we do many interviews with managers and executives—more than 800 in the past 5 years alone. We always end each interview with a “wish list” question. What topped these wish lists most often was the desire for all functions in a company to work together toward and align perfectly for a common purpose. It is no exaggeration to say that the professionals we interview pine for an environment where the functional silo walls have come down. They intuitively know that these disconnects are the real reasons things are not improving faster.

Chapter 5 specifically focuses on one of the greatest potential threats to integration. Ironically, the biggest threat can be found between two interactions traditionally thought of as belonging to the supply chain function: the interaction between purchasing and manufacturing, and the interaction between manufacturing and logistics. Our research suggests that a major gap often exists between purchasing and logistics, resulting in the destruction of value. This lends credence to the infamous quote, “We have met the enemy and he is us!” Chapter 5 discusses the best practices for bridging these divides.

Chapter 6 takes a deep dive into talent in the global supply chain. Ten to fifteen years ago, the supply chain leader in most companies held the Vice President of Logistics title. This was a largely functional role that relied on technical proficiency in discrete areas: knowledge of shipping routes, understanding of warehousing equipment, familiarity with distribution-center locations and footprints, and a solid grasp of freight rates and fuel costs. The Vice President of Logistics reported to the Chief Operating Officer or Chief Financial Officer, had few prospects of advancing further, and had no exposure to the executive committee.

Thanks to game-changing global trends, the way companies need to think of the modern supply chain executive has changed dramatically. In Chapter 6, we describe the professional skills leading supply chain professionals need today, as well as the best practices for managing talent. In doing so, we introduce a five-stage framework of talent management:

  1. Analyze needs
  2. Find talent
  3. Recruit talent
  4. Develop talent
  5. Retain talent

The conclusion to the book takes all of this material and synthesizes it. We identified the top 10 actions that we strongly believe you need to take to create a world-class supply chain. In fact, we included a self-evaluation tool to help you assess exactly where you stand today. This chapter is intended to bring it all together for you, and help you prepare an action plan to change your supply chain game.

We hope that you enjoy the journey through this supply chain game-changing material. You might want to jump around, going first to the topics in which you have the most interest. We have compiled this book in a way that allows you to do just that. Or you may find it more useful to read from beginning to end, in the order we agreed was most logical. However you use this book, we hope you will gain insights along the way that can truly transform your supply chain.

  • + Share This
  • 🔖 Save To Your Account

InformIT Promotional Mailings & Special Offers

I would like to receive exclusive offers and hear about products from InformIT and its family of brands. I can unsubscribe at any time.

Overview


Pearson Education, Inc., 221 River Street, Hoboken, New Jersey 07030, (Pearson) presents this site to provide information about products and services that can be purchased through this site.

This privacy notice provides an overview of our commitment to privacy and describes how we collect, protect, use and share personal information collected through this site. Please note that other Pearson websites and online products and services have their own separate privacy policies.

Collection and Use of Information


To conduct business and deliver products and services, Pearson collects and uses personal information in several ways in connection with this site, including:

Questions and Inquiries

For inquiries and questions, we collect the inquiry or question, together with name, contact details (email address, phone number and mailing address) and any other additional information voluntarily submitted to us through a Contact Us form or an email. We use this information to address the inquiry and respond to the question.

Online Store

For orders and purchases placed through our online store on this site, we collect order details, name, institution name and address (if applicable), email address, phone number, shipping and billing addresses, credit/debit card information, shipping options and any instructions. We use this information to complete transactions, fulfill orders, communicate with individuals placing orders or visiting the online store, and for related purposes.

Surveys

Pearson may offer opportunities to provide feedback or participate in surveys, including surveys evaluating Pearson products, services or sites. Participation is voluntary. Pearson collects information requested in the survey questions and uses the information to evaluate, support, maintain and improve products, services or sites, develop new products and services, conduct educational research and for other purposes specified in the survey.

Contests and Drawings

Occasionally, we may sponsor a contest or drawing. Participation is optional. Pearson collects name, contact information and other information specified on the entry form for the contest or drawing to conduct the contest or drawing. Pearson may collect additional personal information from the winners of a contest or drawing in order to award the prize and for tax reporting purposes, as required by law.

Newsletters

If you have elected to receive email newsletters or promotional mailings and special offers but want to unsubscribe, simply email information@informit.com.

Service Announcements

On rare occasions it is necessary to send out a strictly service related announcement. For instance, if our service is temporarily suspended for maintenance we might send users an email. Generally, users may not opt-out of these communications, though they can deactivate their account information. However, these communications are not promotional in nature.

Customer Service

We communicate with users on a regular basis to provide requested services and in regard to issues relating to their account we reply via email or phone in accordance with the users' wishes when a user submits their information through our Contact Us form.

Other Collection and Use of Information


Application and System Logs

Pearson automatically collects log data to help ensure the delivery, availability and security of this site. Log data may include technical information about how a user or visitor connected to this site, such as browser type, type of computer/device, operating system, internet service provider and IP address. We use this information for support purposes and to monitor the health of the site, identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents and appropriately scale computing resources.

Web Analytics

Pearson may use third party web trend analytical services, including Google Analytics, to collect visitor information, such as IP addresses, browser types, referring pages, pages visited and time spent on a particular site. While these analytical services collect and report information on an anonymous basis, they may use cookies to gather web trend information. The information gathered may enable Pearson (but not the third party web trend services) to link information with application and system log data. Pearson uses this information for system administration and to identify problems, improve service, detect unauthorized access and fraudulent activity, prevent and respond to security incidents, appropriately scale computing resources and otherwise support and deliver this site and its services.

Cookies and Related Technologies

This site uses cookies and similar technologies to personalize content, measure traffic patterns, control security, track use and access of information on this site, and provide interest-based messages and advertising. Users can manage and block the use of cookies through their browser. Disabling or blocking certain cookies may limit the functionality of this site.

Do Not Track

This site currently does not respond to Do Not Track signals.

Security


Pearson uses appropriate physical, administrative and technical security measures to protect personal information from unauthorized access, use and disclosure.

Children


This site is not directed to children under the age of 13.

Marketing


Pearson may send or direct marketing communications to users, provided that

  • Pearson will not use personal information collected or processed as a K-12 school service provider for the purpose of directed or targeted advertising.
  • Such marketing is consistent with applicable law and Pearson's legal obligations.
  • Pearson will not knowingly direct or send marketing communications to an individual who has expressed a preference not to receive marketing.
  • Where required by applicable law, express or implied consent to marketing exists and has not been withdrawn.

Pearson may provide personal information to a third party service provider on a restricted basis to provide marketing solely on behalf of Pearson or an affiliate or customer for whom Pearson is a service provider. Marketing preferences may be changed at any time.

Correcting/Updating Personal Information


If a user's personally identifiable information changes (such as your postal address or email address), we provide a way to correct or update that user's personal data provided to us. This can be done on the Account page. If a user no longer desires our service and desires to delete his or her account, please contact us at customer-service@informit.com and we will process the deletion of a user's account.

Choice/Opt-out


Users can always make an informed choice as to whether they should proceed with certain services offered by InformIT. If you choose to remove yourself from our mailing list(s) simply visit the following page and uncheck any communication you no longer want to receive: www.informit.com/u.aspx.

Sale of Personal Information


Pearson does not rent or sell personal information in exchange for any payment of money.

While Pearson does not sell personal information, as defined in Nevada law, Nevada residents may email a request for no sale of their personal information to NevadaDesignatedRequest@pearson.com.

Supplemental Privacy Statement for California Residents


California residents should read our Supplemental privacy statement for California residents in conjunction with this Privacy Notice. The Supplemental privacy statement for California residents explains Pearson's commitment to comply with California law and applies to personal information of California residents collected in connection with this site and the Services.

Sharing and Disclosure


Pearson may disclose personal information, as follows:

  • As required by law.
  • With the consent of the individual (or their parent, if the individual is a minor)
  • In response to a subpoena, court order or legal process, to the extent permitted or required by law
  • To protect the security and safety of individuals, data, assets and systems, consistent with applicable law
  • In connection the sale, joint venture or other transfer of some or all of its company or assets, subject to the provisions of this Privacy Notice
  • To investigate or address actual or suspected fraud or other illegal activities
  • To exercise its legal rights, including enforcement of the Terms of Use for this site or another contract
  • To affiliated Pearson companies and other companies and organizations who perform work for Pearson and are obligated to protect the privacy of personal information consistent with this Privacy Notice
  • To a school, organization, company or government agency, where Pearson collects or processes the personal information in a school setting or on behalf of such organization, company or government agency.

Links


This web site contains links to other sites. Please be aware that we are not responsible for the privacy practices of such other sites. We encourage our users to be aware when they leave our site and to read the privacy statements of each and every web site that collects Personal Information. This privacy statement applies solely to information collected by this web site.

Requests and Contact


Please contact us about this Privacy Notice or if you have any requests or questions relating to the privacy of your personal information.

Changes to this Privacy Notice


We may revise this Privacy Notice through an updated posting. We will identify the effective date of the revision in the posting. Often, updates are made to provide greater clarity or to comply with changes in regulatory requirements. If the updates involve material changes to the collection, protection, use or disclosure of Personal Information, Pearson will provide notice of the change through a conspicuous notice on this site or other appropriate way. Continued use of the site after the effective date of a posted revision evidences acceptance. Please contact us if you have questions or concerns about the Privacy Notice or any objection to any revisions.

Last Update: November 17, 2020