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Key Themes Facing Supply Chain Executives

As a member of the Editorial Board for the periodical “Inside Supply Management”, I recently sat in on a teleconference involving multiple executives from different industries, including Boeing, Sealy, Raytheon, IBM, and many others. Executives were asked to input what they felt were the key themes facing executives in supply management, as well as the types of articles and topics they would like to see more of in the journal (which is mailed to all members of the Institute for Supply Management).

Collaboration: because purchasing is reaching into enterprise and taking over all collaboration. Internal collaboration around new product development, productivity increases with partners.

Cost savings/productivity: Measuring and improving. Score keeping for cost-savings. How we track it and how we’re going to save it.

Best practices: going very specifically to examples of companies or groups of companies.

E-learning: using new applications for training and professional development. (i.e., distance learning, non-traditional learning methods)

Auctions and reverse auctions: when do they fit and how do you consider when they make sense. The reason they hate them on the sales side is that purchasing is mis-using them.

Documenting supply management’s value in the organization: In some industries it’s well known and purchasing’s involvement is key and well-known. In others, it’s a struggle for people to document what they bring, in terms of improving supplier quality, etc.

Strategic suppliers: how to run a strategic supplier program—what data should you use for this activity? What are the key measurements of this arrangement?

What new business models have developed in the wake of 9/11: In the travel and logistics industry, some have been mandated, but what about companies that are restructuring their supply chains to address the down market.

How to prepare your supply base in terms of capacity: How do you create flexibility within the supply chain so that no one is holding too much or not having enough, etc? What happens when you’re faced with upsidedown capacity?

Data and legacy systems and integrating systems: there is a real problem with data accuracy, integrity, and reliability. There is a lack of integration and can’t be relied upon.

We at the SCRC are working on projects that can help managers in your companies understand many of these same issues, and are working to ensure that our website provides timely, responsive answers to your questions. We hope you continue to check back!