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OM in the News: Eight Things Supply Chain Managers Worry About

September 3, 2014

When a group supply chain managers was recently surveyed about their concerns, Material Handling & Logistics (Aug. 27, 2014) reports that they came up with the following eight:


Talent: Having the right people in the right positions. All companies need better processes to assess, identify, recruit, develop and retain top talent, especially since supply chain talent is increasingly scarce.

The customer: The executives felt the urgency to better understand the current and future needs of their customers. They understand that their customers should lead their supply chain strategies, and they know that their customers should be better educated on the cost-service tradeoffs.

Agility: Given the increasing volatility in the global environment, the group understood the urgent need to plan and prepare for increased supply chain agility. Postponement is one of many enablers of supply chain agility.

Technology: The executives know they need to stay current with technology on many fronts, from warehouse and transportation management systems to network optimization tools and inventory planning systems.

Cost: Cost reduction will always be a priority and supply chain executives know their companies expect them to take the lead in that area. They must reduce cost while simultaneously redesigning their supply chains and leveraging the global environment.

Regulations and Infrastructure: Executives know they need to find efficient ways to comply with the growing list of regulations, as well as the crumbling transportation infrastructure.

Risk: Executives understand they should have a better process to identify, prioritize and mitigate supply chain risks that can seriously damage their companies. Even weather must be considered.

Sustainability: They think it’s time to develop a serious supply chain sustainability strategy. A growing number of companies have already begun that effort.

Classroom discussion questions:

1. Which of these eight do you think is the highest priority?

2. How can supply chain managers mitigate risk?

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