The Logistics and Supply Chain Toolkit by Gwynne Richards and Susan Grinsted is an instructional book based in reality, free from assumptions and pretense but full of real world applications. The toolkit concept, one that is continued throughout the book, spotlights process and analytical assets that are described by the authors as including “guides, frameworks, models, quick calculations, and practical ideas.” The topics covered in the book range from an essential review of Incoterms to a more advanced discussion of Decision Matrix Analysis.
“…more than 70% of the top 1,000 companies around the world will have adopted supply chain finance programmes within the next couple of years.” (p. xiii)
Financing the End-to-End Supply Chain, by Simon Templar, Erik Hofmann, Charles Findlay, is an educational investment that many procurement and supply chain professionals will benefit from. Despite being one of the top ‘up and coming’ professional topics, there is still a lack of solid understanding in the professions that will be required to see supply chain finance programs through.
I came to this review with just enough knowledge to be dangerous – and enthusiastic. In my opinion, supply chain finance is the ‘Robotic Process Automation’ (RPA) of 2016. BY 2017, SCF will be a regular part of corporate conversations across industries and geographies.
“Supply chain legal disputes don’t start out as legal disputes. They typically start out as badly written contracts, poor communication with supply chain partners, and an inability to resolve conflicts.” (Authors’ Foreward)
Legal Blacksmith, by Rosemary Coates and Sarah Rathke, is an interesting mix of two perspectives the procurement community is all too familiar with: supply chain and legal. They combine their experience – Coates on the supply chain side and Rathke on the legal side – to provide a view that seems better suited to supply chain professionals looking for an improved legal understanding than vice versa. Interestingly, they met during a court case where a manufacturer was sued by a customer.
Buyers and suppliers, they make the commercial world go round.
- The POD Model, p. 1
The POD Model: The mutually-beneficial model for buyers and suppliers which enables an increase in profit through commercial collaboration by Michael Robertson strives to do something that we need a whole lot more of in procurement. It provides a framework for combining our philosophical objectives as collaborators and innovators with the inescapable need to measure our results.
Robertson looks at the messy reality of buyer supplier relations and breaks them down to a few major issues: cost, risk, flexibility, and incentives for mutual gain. He then looks to find a way to factor those into contracts in such a way that no one party benefits at the cost or loss of the other.
It is my distinct belief that as corporate objectives become more general, functional silos dissipate, and millennial professional habits lead to increased talent rotation, the information and skills required by successful individuals and organizations will be broad in nature. Most of the books I review on an annual basis are procurement or supply chain related. That being said, competitive advantage is not discipline specific. In that spirit, I am actively pursuing opportunities to bring general thought leadership to Buyers Meeting Point. Starting… now!
The Industries of the Future, by former State Department Senior Advisor Alec Ross, is a compelling exploration of the conditions businesses and countries need to optimize in order to be successful in the decades to come. It borrows extensively from his time traveling the world in the federal government’s service, which means that his examples are unexpectedly diverse and shared in such a way that is only possible when the author has experienced something first-hand.
“In other words, an effective management of a firm’s digital supply chain will have a positive impact on productivity and growth; ignorance will very likely result in the loss of competitive advantage and have a detrimental effect on performance.” (e-Logistics, p. 4)
“The benefits of the global connectivity achieved by both ocean and air transport reach practically every type of modern industry and business and are an essential ingredient of the global supply chain.” (Aviation Logistics, p. 1)
Dr. Tom DePaoli recently released Avoiding a Supply Chain Apocalypse. It is a collection of the best advice he has to give on topics ranging from relationships to negotiation to Kaizens and storytelling. Since I’ve read all of Dr. Tom’s books, I consider it something of a personal challenge to uncover the material he has added – either because the focus of the book is different or because professional priorities continue to change over time.
Like Dr. Tom’s other books, this is for professionals that don’t have the time (or desire) to lose themselves in a 300-400 page book of polished academic theory. His sections are short and to the point and draw in material from third party sites as well as his other writing. You can read one or two sections as time allows and not have any trouble picking up in a different place the next time you sit down.
Organizations themselves present a major problem; they are stuck in an outdated approach to value creation that has emerged over the past few decades. They continue to view value creation narrowly, optimizing short-term financial performance in a bubble while missing the most important customer needs and ignoring the broader influences that determine their longer-term success.” (p. 24)
In November, Kate Vitasek and a team of co-authors released Strategic Sourcing in the New Economy: Harnessing the Potential of Sourcing Business Models for Modern Procurement. Vitasek is best known for her Vested Outsourcing series a books, which are responsible for helping professionals in all functions see the potential of outsourcing relationships aimed at accomplishing a new, more value-oriented type of result. While the Vested books naturally appeal to a procurement audience, you would hardly say that procurement is the main character. We appear in little more than an occasional walk on role – not central to the plot and not particularly memorable.
The contrast between procurement’s role in the Vested series and the fact that we now have a book dedicated to our perspective and objectives is striking. While the Vested Way is open to all, clearly we seized an opportunity that has now led to a book all our own.
Another year done, another 11 book reviews added to the Buyers Meeting Point cache. When I reflect back on this year’s new titles it is the authors rather than the books themselves that really stand out. This is particularly important as procurement is well into a time of significant evolution. In that context, the authors we read are more important than just the content they share. Their experiences and their qualifications set the bar for the rest of us – and the higher that bar is, the better.
Sure, procurement is in the midst of a change that may render the function unrecognizable over the next few years. If we can continue to attract the minds and engage the imagination of people as bright and visionary as the ones spotlighted here, we’re going to be okay on the other side – no matter what.
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.
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.
I recently interviewed Magnus Carlsson, the author of Strategic Sourcing and Category Management: Lessons Learned at IKEA. You can listen to our conversation on demand on BMP Radio.
Although the book centers around the how and why of IKEA’s approach to procurement and supply chain, its content is not limited to large multi-national corporations or companies in the furniture and home goods industries. IKEA is a company that competes on brand and low costs, which makes its approaches to spend and supplier management absolutely critical to its ability to operate.
IKEA has been able to accomplish many things that other companies have not because it is necessary for them to remain competitive. As a result, their team members – and former team members, for the sake of including Carlsson – approach complex and strategic procurement with a striking clarity of purpose. There is no other way for IKEA to work, and therefore there is no reason to resist or bemoan the uphill strategic path.
Conversation with the Author: Jonathan O'Brien on Why His Revised Editions Add but Don't Remove Information
Jonathan O’Brien, CEO at Positive Purchasing, has written a number of weighty books for procurement and supply chain professionals: Category Management in Purchasing, Negotiating for Purchasing Professionals, and Supplier Relationship Management make up the ‘big three.’ Not only has he written these books, he regularly revises them – I know because I’ve reviewed all of the originals and many of the revisions.
I write all the time (including two books of my own), and yet the sheer volume of content O’Brien has pulled together in these books makes my head spin. In fact, I once asked someone at his publisher Kogan Page if they had him locked in a room somewhere hunched over a laptop.
What that suggests to me, is that there is something about the process of writing, and his relationship to the content, that is important for him as a practitioner and thought leader. Somehow, O’Brien inexplicably maintains a successful consulting practice in addition to his writing habit.
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.
Just over 18 months ago I reviewed the second edition of Category Management in Purchasing by Jonathan O’Brien. (You can read my original review here). When I recently learned there was to be a third edition, I was unsure what I would be able to say in a new review that would add to my earlier observations.
I found it interesting to read O’Brien’s commentary, not only on the progression of this title, but on how he sees it fitting in with his other work. I don’t personally know of anyone who has written more substantial procurement books than O’Brien, and knowing that he sees a subset of them as being connected is an interesting idea. Category Management in Purchasing, along with SRM and Negotiation for Purchasing are seen by the author as his ‘trilogy’. Knowing that changes how I would approach any of the books in the group.
Strategic Sourcing and Category Management: Lessons Learned at IKEA by Magnus Carlsson (KoganPage, August 2015) is not a case study, although I didn’t need the note from the author in the introduction to know that. The author may have spent 25 years at IKEA, working in strategic sourcing, but this is less a story of one company and more the learnings gained by one professional over 2.5 decades in a competitive environment.
Like any other book I review or event I attend, my focus in reading this book was to cull out the important ideas: what are the few take aways that really stand out as unique? There are quite a few in this book, any of which will improve the maturity and results of your procurement organization. I think this book is fantastic – full of great new ideas and ways to implement them.
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.
One of the most powerful things you can do with broken windows management is to empower your employees to fix their own issues whenever possible.” (p. 35)
In his fifth business book (seventh overall) Dr. Tom DePaoli takes broken windows theory and combines it with liberal doses of lean methodology and his own no-nonsense approach to process improvement. While this is not a long book, just 70 pages long, it is a working book. This is emphasized by the pages at the back that are specifically designated for “Doodles, Notes, and Ideas.”
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.