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Subscribe to this list via RSS Blog posts tagged in Supply Chain
A Personal Look at the Resiliency of Tesco and Their Supply Chain

I recently had the opportunity to interview Robert Mason and Barry Evans, co-authors of the book ‘The Lean Supply Chain: Managing the Challenge at Tesco.’ It was published in September 2015 and you can read my review here.

Barry Evans worked as a Lean Process Manager at Tesco, developing ways for lean thinking to be applied to Tesco’s supply chain. He has also joined the Lean Enterprise Research Centre at Cardiff Business School as a Senior Research Associate. Robert Mason is a Senior Lecturer in Logistics and Operations Management at Cardiff Business School and has led many business research projects with Tesco as a partner. To read their ongoing blog posts, click here.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 11/9 – 11/13: Healthcare, the Tech Agenda, 3rd Party Management

This week’s picks are definitely for big thinkers. Big as in big challenges and big opportunity for the organizations that get it right. In addition to the webinars below, Directworks is running a live demonstration of their 2.0 solution on November 11th from 2-3pm EST. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Book Review: Fashion Logistics: Insights into the Fashion Retail Supply Chain

I went into my review of Fashion Logistics: Insights into the Fashion Retail Supply Chain by John Fernie and David Grant (Kogan Page, November 2015) with pragmatic acceptance of the fact that it would contain more logistics than fashion. I could not have been more wrong. Far from being a dry, flat examination of the global garment industry, this book is a well rounded representation of an industry that is facing not only challenges but an increasing pace of change. The case studies and historical context are as indulgent as many of the brands the authors cover.

The Power Triangle in Electronic Component Specifying and Purchasing

This post was originally run on Design News.

I recently had the opportunity to interview Mark Larson, the vice chairman of electronic component distributor Digi-Key Electronics. The company was founded in 1972, and Larson joined only four years later to what is now one of the largest such companies not only in North America but the world. He led the company as president for an astounding 39 years, just recently stepping down in July.

In the four decades during which Larson ran Digi-Key, there was considerable change -- in the electronics being sold, in whom the products were sold to, and in the supply chains the products traveled through. The other thing that has changed is the way Digi-Key interacts with different points of contact at each customer. Although it has always aimed its marketing efforts at design engineers -- and continues to do so -- it has had to adapt to the growing role of centralized procurement in managing purchases.

Since the interactions between engineering and procurement have not always been naturally easy, the insertion of a third party into the electronic component purchasing process has brought some benefits. When looked at from an outsider’s point of view, the two teams may have more in common than they realize.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 10/19 – 10/23: Social Media, the Digital Pivot, and Supplier Centricity

This week is ridiculously busy – there are 15 webinars taking place: five on Tuesday, one on Wednesday, and NINE on Thursday. Given the wide range of choices, it wasn’t easy to pick the best ones, but my recommendations are below. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Webinar Notes: Supply Chain Risk Management: How to Turn Worst Practices into Best Practices

These webinar notes are from an October 8th webinar on ‘Supply Chain Risk Management: How to Turn Worst Practices into Best Practices’ hosted by SIG and presented by Rolf Zimmer and Laura Enny at riskmethods. The webinar can be viewed on demand here.

The event opened with a look at what riskmethods considered to be the top megatrends: globalization, outsourcing, digitization, and climate change. Running through all of these trends is the changing role that suppliers, and therefore the supply chain as a whole, plays in our ability to understand complexity and the elevated risk levels and additional risk types it leads to.

Procurement has a tendency to think of supply chain complexity as improving the flow of goods, services, funds, and information between suppliers or tiers of the supply base. Although this expanded perspective is an improvement over where we have been in the past, it is still too simplistic. As Zimmer pointed out in the webinar, supply chains are not just lines from point A to point B, but complex networked structures where half of all disruptions take place beyond the first tier of the supply base.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars 10/5 – 10/9: Getting out ahead of challenges and opportunities

This week I’ve picked two Finance-oriented events and one on supply chain risk. All three of them allow procurement to look outside the box of their own environment for ways to positively impact the enterprise as a whole. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and to connect to their registration pages.

Best Procurement and Supply Chain Webinars August 24-28

This week’s calendar filled up last week with some new additions. I’m leaning towards the first three as this week’s best bets for thought leadership and professional development. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and connect to their registration pages.

Book Review: The Lean Supply Chain: Managing the Challenge at Tesco

The supply chain may be the best organized in the world, but if trust and transparency are not there the commercial results will not materialize.

- The Lean Supply Chain, p. xxiv

The Lean Supply Chain: Managing the Challenge at Tesco (September 3, 2015, Kogan Page) by Robert Mason and Barry Evans is fascinating – for its timing as much as the overview it provides into one of the world’s most prominent retailers. The book’s timing is impressive (and critical) given the turbulent few years Tesco has had: including the horsemeat scandal in 2013, and an accounting scandal in 2014.

While this book is not solely about the scandals and their exact aftermath, it acknowledges them right up front and includes as many details as the publication timeline would allow – and probably a few more than that. The Preface is an absolute must-read and would stand as a B-school case study in its own right.

Webinar Recommendations for August 17 - 21, 2015: RPA is Here to Stay, Supply Chain Index Update, Why Due Diligence Matters

This week there are seven webinars being run, and I’ve taken the opportunity to recommend three on topics that are very different from each other while all still providing access to compelling thought leadership. Click on the title of each event below to view the full description in our events calendar and connect to their registration pages.

Guest Post on Procurement Insights: Rome Wasn’t Built in a Day, and Neither Was its Supply Chain

Note: This post oritinally ran on the Procurement Insights blog.

“Without a good mental model you won’t survive in business for long.” – M. Hugos, SCM Globe

At the end of 2014, I came across an extremely interesting use of modern supply chain modeling. Michael Hugos, author of Essentials of Supply Chain Management and co-founder of SCM Globe, applied interactive supply chain modeling and simulation to the supply chains of ancient Rome – the olive oil supply chain to be specific.

I’m a history buff, so this was right up my alley, but trust me – it is worth your time to read the three part series. The case study is set in the Roman Empire in 300 A.D. Olive oil is in high demand because it can be used for cooking, light, cosmetics, and healthcare. Its value is second only to gold. Between demand and value, the conditions are right for exporters in the remote corners of the Empire to innovate, and they do not disappoint. Using the Romans’ expertise in water management, they alter the conditions of previously unfarmable terrain and make it both productive and profitable.

Webinar Notes: The Dawn of Risk Management: Harnessing the Power of Watson

These notes are from a June 23, 2015 webinar hosted by Sourcing Industry Group and presented by Louis Ferretti, a Project Executive at IBM. While only SIG members can view the recording on demand, you can catch Ferretti at their Global Executive Summit in October.

I knew I wanted to attend this event as soon as I heard Watson, the artificial intelligence computer that competed against two of the best ever Jeopardy! contestants in 2011 and won, would be featured. If that kind of AI could be applied to supply chain risk management, just think of what might be possible! In this case, IBM presented from the buy side perspective, although many companies are familiar with them on the sell side. Watson was applied in the management of IBM’s own spend.

Webinar notes: Taking Charge of Your Career

These event notes are based on a webinar presented by Supply Chain Insights on June 25, 2015. The webinar can be viewed on demand without any registration requirements here. I advocate seeing it for a look into some of Supply Chain Insights’ research on trends in supply chain talent development as well as to hear the stories shared by the panelists.

Along with moderator (Supply Chain Insights founder and CEO) Lora Cecere, the event panelists were Andrew Byer, P&G’s Associate Director of Supply Network, and Fran O’Sullivan, IBM’s General Manager of Systems, Strategy, and Operations.

Procurement as a ‘Worldly’ Profession: What are your news habits?

In May I covered the first chapter of Xchanging’s 2015 Global Procurement Study. (You can read my notes here). The primary take aways were that capacity is more of a constraint than capabilities, KPIs are very diverse, and that practitioners may be getting the wrong idea about the field from media coverage that steers them one way when they need to take another.

The new chapter: External Threats Plaguing Procurement (available for download here after a brief registration) looks into global risk factors. The report couldn’t have been more timely, given how much coverage the Greek banking crisis has been getting.

Procurement Perspectives Podcast: Hear from the 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Stars

This week our audio comes from the ThomasNet and ISM 30 Under 30 Supply Chain Rising Stars program. They hosted a panel-style interview and discussion with some of the 2014 award recipients at this year’s ISM conference. The full hour-long conversation is available on Sound Cloud if you want to hear it.

The podcast starts with each of the participating recipients and program mentors introducing themselves and then moves on to a press-conference style question and answer session with some of the most recognizable names in procurement media – including the Hackett Group, Manufacturing Talk Radio, and Spend Matters.

The excerpt I selected to share starts with a question from Supply Chain Management Review’s Editorial Director, Bob Trebilcock, as he asks how these rising stars ended up in supply chain.

You can listen to the podcast on the PI Window on Business Blog Talk Radio channel or on our Sound Cloud page.

Book Review: Inventory Management: Advanced Methods for Managing Inventory within Business Systems

It is very important for businesses to be able to react to changes in the marketplace within their supply chains. This is possible where: there is a desire to make changes; there are clear market signals; there is good information available within the supply chain; and when optimum amounts of inventory are held. (p. 22)

Inventory Management: Advanced Methods for Managing Inventory within Business Systems by Dr. Geoff Relph and Catherine Milner (Kogan Page, July 2015) is accurately described by the authors in their introduction as achieving a balance between the philosophical and the practical. In fact, despite the complexity or maturity of their approach (appropriate given the ‘Advanced Methods’ designation in the title) all of the Excel-based tools for modeling inventory requirements based on the book are available for download. It doesn’t get more practical than that.

Trans Fats Replacements: A Moment on the Lips, a Lifetime in the Sourcing Pipeline

On Tuesday, the Food & Drug Administration (FDA) announced that by 2018 all partially hydrogenated oils (the primary source of trans fats in the American diet) must be phased out of the food supply chain. The many costs associated with this change will give procurement an opportunity to have a positive impact at a time of transition. When you add up the costs of experimenting with replacement oils and reprinting/redesigning packaging and labels, Roger Clemens, a pharmacology professor at USC, estimates it could cost companies as much as $200K per product.[1]

Book Review: Supply Chain Management & Logistics in Construction

Done well, the use of supply chain companies brings technical superiority and innovation to the project, and their specialist knowledge and experience brings enhanced efficiency, quality and consistency of delivery. However, there can also be increased risk if the strengths and weaknesses of the third party companies are not fully understood and managed.” (p. 78)

Supply Chain Management & Logistics in Construction: Delivering Tomorrow’s Built Environment (Kogan Page 2015) contains the collective knowledge of seventeen highly qualified contributors representing a number of roles within the industry – including its suppliers. Greger Lungesjö, listed as the book’s author, serves a double role as contributor and editor.

It is important to clarify that logistics has a different meaning in the construction industry than it does in others. Logistics is the term used to describe the movement of materials, people, and supporting services around a project site – not getting the materials, equipment, and people to the building site. You might even think of logistics as the ‘indirect spend’ of a construction site/project. It is absolutely critical, but it does not become part of the final structure. Fear not however, supply chain is still supply chain – an area of investment from which the industry is just starting to realize the potential for benefit.

Book Review: Global Supply Chain Ecosystems

…today’s supply chains encompass complex webs of interdependencies, frequently spanning the globe, designed and deployed to optimize critical attributes – such as speed, agility, and resilience – that drive competitive advantage. (p. 11)


Global Supply Chain Ecosystems: Strategies for Competitive Advantage in a Complex World by Mark Millar provides a multi-dimensional look at supply chains. The ecosystem concept was originally used by the Financial Times to describe the increasingly complex nature of business in general. When it is applied to supply chain operations, it provides us with the idea that chains are more spherical than linear and non-consecutive.


One of the things I realized early in my reading of the book is that Millar is writing from a much different perspective than the authors we am used to hearing from. His biography lists him as a speaker, presenter, and board member. His view of supply chains in general, and their potential value contribution to the modern competitive enterprise, is more elevated.


Book Review: Food Supply Chain Management and Logistics

Supply chains that are governed well will also protect the environment and create ethical behaviour not only between the transacting partners but hopefully across the network. However, developing the supply chain and the relationships requires effort and commitment from partners and help and support from governments. (p. 93)

Food Supply Chain Management and Logistics: From Farm to Fork by Professor Samir Dani is an eye-opening look at the complexity and criticality associated with feeding people the world over. Right from the outset, the book considers each topic in the context of a balance between advancements and opportunities and the consequences of failure, corruption, and manipulation.

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