It's clear that for the last ten or so years, supply chain management has become the golden boy of management discipline and the beneficiary of countless billions of dollars in investments, such as in enterprise resource planning software.
But equally true, we suspect, is the following sentence from the new book Strategic Supply Chain Management, written by Shoshanah Cohen (HBS MBA '92) and Joseph Roussel. "Most companies do not have a documented and communicated supply chain strategy, and when asked to create one, many practitioners confess they would not know how to write one or get top-level sanction for it."
This book is intended to place the supply chain at the heart of strategic and tactical decision making in the modern corporation. The authors urge you to structure your supply chain into five core disciplines:
- View your supply chain as a strategic asset.
- Develop an end-to-end process architecture.
- Design your organization for performance.
- Build the right collaborative model.
- Use metrics to drive business success.
Those rather deceptively simple ideas are buttressed with examples from heavyweight supply chain practitioners including Eli Lilly, the U.S. Department of Defense, Owens Corning, and General Motors. One important lesson: Listen to friends. In the 1990s, airbag manufacturer Autoliv saw its supply chain process hitting its limit. The company tried to fix its own problems, but after years of little success Autoliv turned to a customer for advice: Toyota. In two years, the company had adapted the Toyota Production System and its manufacturing process was transformed.
The final chapter details how to create a roadmap for change, underlining the importance of integrating strategy, process, organization, and information systems.
This book is a down-to-earth examination of the current state of supply chain management, how you can improve your own processes, and what the future holds.—Sean Silverthorne