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Another Fall semester brings a new batch of 50 SCRC company projects…

As we go into our 2013 fall semester, the SCRC team is pulling together the list of project summaries from our 15 corporate partners.  This is indeed a busy time for everyone as we go into full project planning mode…

Prior to the beginning of each semester, we work with a SCRC project liaison from each company to identify field-based student projects. Once projects are identified, project leaders from the companies are selected. We then match the project descriptions with our project-based courses and assign projects to the MBA SCM practicum, undergraduate SCM practicum, or MBA Supply Management. The MBA SCM practicum course is a required team-based project course for MBA students in the SCM concentration. The SCM undergraduate practicum course is also a team-based project course that works on a company’s SCM issues. The scope in the undergraduate practicum course tends to be narrower and better defined than the MBA practicum course. Our practicum students are expected to learn at two levels: first, they study and apply technical SC skills and analysis techniques particular to each project and second, they learn the team-based, deadline-driven nature of SC projects in a real company setting. Besides the practicum courses, the MBA Supply Management course includes a field-based student project. This course is usually taken at the end of the first year of the full-time MBA program providing a launching pad for summer internship opportunities for MBA SCM students. Of the full-time MBA SCM students approximately one-third of them interned with SCRC donor companies. This course also lays the ground work for research methods that students use in the MBA SCM practicum in their second year.

Projects are co-led by the SCRC directors, Poole College of Management faculty, and the company project leaders. When assigning student teams to projects, we also try to match the more experienced student teams to non-local companies and the less experienced teams to local companies. For example, nearly all of the undergraduate practicum projects are with local companies. Since NC State is an urban campus there is more access to local companies than if we were located in a rural setting. However, many of our supporting companies are service companies that can often be found in most locales.

Over the past 11 years, we have learned how to prepare project-supporting companies to engage with the SCRC student teams. Company executives often begin projects with different perceptions of what a project is, how broad the scope could be, whether the scope could be changed, and what could be accomplished over a 15-week semester. We have found that a successful field-based student project often occurs when the project is kept on track to meet deliverables. Within the first few weeks of the semester, the company and its student team should finalize the scope of the project. This facilitates project continuity as students will go back to the scope several times during the semester. Additionally, early-on in the semester, the company should provide background information to its student team on the business situation/environment for the project. This information shapes the context and nature of the project. Throughout the semester the company and its student team should have regular weekly communication and on-going guidance through scheduled discussions by conference call or in person.

This fall, the number of projects (50) exeeded the number of student teams enrolled in our MBA and undergraduate classes.  This is not a surpirse – as most of the projects were prioritized, and some will be completed in the spring semester.  We have only a month between fall and spring, and often do not have a lot of time to garner new project ideas from our partners.

This year brought a lot of projects focused in the following areas:

– Supplier risk assessments

– Network cost to serve models and total cost decision analysis.

– Improvement of Source to Pay processes

– MRO and category management strategy development

– Supply chain impacts on working capital

– Supplier Key Performance Indicators and analytics, including innovation

– Warehouse management  – SOWs, staging lane design, job kitting implementation

– Supply chain analytics around capacity planning, commodity pricing, and quality.

– Best in class governance and supply chain organizations.

– Sustainable material reduction programs

These exciting projects will provide a REAL learning experience for our MBA and undergraduate students as they enter class this next week!