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"The Point" is written by BMP Editor Kelly Barner as well as a diverse group of guest contributors.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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]

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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.

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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.

 

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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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Building a feeder program for supply chain

Many professions have minor leagues or feeder programs. In sports, it starts with kids playing sports in their schools or town leagues. Eventually some progress to college, minor league and perhaps event to the professional level. In academics, there is a feeder program for science and technology, called FIRST, the brain child of Dean Kamen. Utilizing a robotics game, students learn fund raising, marketing, communication, innovation, engineering and team work. It now is in thousands of middle schools and high schools all over the world.

In business, there is the Junior Achievement program that was founded in 1919. Their mission is turning the kids of today into the entrepreneurs of tomorrow. This program starts with 5 year olds and goes through high school, setting the students up to compete in a global environment.

For myself, I stumbled into a career in procurement and supply chain through a series of events. I know that is the same for some of my colleagues as well.

This week’s blog discusses a feeder program for supply chain. With a talent gap that is growing, it is exciting to see such programs exist. Robert Bowman, of Supply Chain Brain, writes an article titled “Teaching School Kids about Supply Chain”.

The program starts with students at the lowest levels and is planning to go through high school. They work with projects such as a lemonade stand, pizza manufacturing and paper airplane modelling. They learn about planning, customer service, problem solving, and math skills to name a few. It is really catching on and has the potential to become the feeder program for the next generation of supply chain professionals.

Did you do anything like one of these feeder programs in your early years? Are there any others that you would recommend?

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint.

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Webinar Notes: Inventory Management in a Market-Driven World

This week’s webinar notes are from an April 16th webinar hosted and presented by Supply Chain Insights. The webinar is already (!!!) available on demand.

Boy, did I pick a winner in this event. I originally attended to learn more about inventory management in the face of uncertain demand and fragile extended supply chains. What I came away with were some brilliant observations that will absolutely make their way into the book that Jon and I are writing on Procurement at a Crossroads in the form of quotes pulled from Lora Cecere’s Supply Chain Shaman blog.

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Webinar Notes: Mitigating Risks and Impact of Sanctions Regimes on Your Supply Chain

This week’s webinar notes are from an April 9th webinar hosted by ISM and presented by Mark Dunn, Lexis Nexis’ Due Diligence Segment Leader for Risk and Compliance. ISM’s previous web seminars are listed on the lower portion of this page on their website.

 

This event, titled “Mitigating Risks and Impact of Sanctions Regimes on Your Supply Chain,” specifically addressed risks that are outside of the norm for most supply chain and procurement professionals: money laundering, bribery, corruption, and diplomatic or economic sanctions. The sanctions, which might be in place as the result of violating international law or human rights violations, can be established against countries, organizations, companies, individuals – even specific vessels. The measures against these entities may be restrictive or coercive in nature.

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Why it is Not Worth Preventing Every Disruption in Your Supply Chain

Supply chains are similar to humans—imperfect. Their successes within business plans are a product of accurately forecasting how to survive crises and minimize damage in high-risk scenarios. Balance is the key to surviving most situations. In a supply chain, the accord between supply chain efficiency and risk mitigation can be difficult to achieve.

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Global warming and your supply chain

I think my neighborhood is beginning to look like this! The Boston area has had two blizzards and two major snow storms in 3 weeks. The snow accumulation is record breaking and reached over 100 inches (254 cm). That was followed by high winds and bitter cold. And we still have a lot of winter to go.

Weather like this causes all kinds of delays in the supply chain. Flights are cancelled, businesses are closed, and governors declare states of emergencies. There was a multi-car accident that included a FedEx truck and packages ended up all over the roadway. Not sure if those will get to their final destination!

Some people are commenting that global warming is not happening. However, this is exactly what global warming looks like. Since the oceans are warmer, there is more moisture available to become snow with cold temperatures. This article from Climate Central, What A Warming World Means for Major Snowstorms explains in layman’s terms what we are experiencing. It also discusses that once the land temperature gets warmer, the snow will become more rain which will cause different issues. Even now, coastal flooding is a more significant threat as the ocean levels continue to rise.

As a procurement professional, events like these can wreak havoc as you plan your deliveries and production lines. This blog, written by Jim Fulcher, Blizzards, forecasting and the supply chain is only a few weeks old and discusses the disruption in New York City for the first blizzard. Little did he know this was just beginning!

What is your company doing about supply chain delays due to global warming? What is your company doing to reduce those risks and also reduce your own carbon footprint? Have you thought about a new pet?polar bear

Share your thoughts by commenting below or tweeting us @BuyersMeetPoint.

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Predictive Analytics in Procurement: The Logic Behind The Hype

Wouldn’t it be nice to know the future for certain? There are few fail-proof ways to see shifts in the business landscape before they occur, but there are ways to ensure your goals stay on the correct path regardless of what direction the future takes. Procurement departments, for instance, have objectives that require analysis of factors beyond historic trends—considerations like supply market volatility, supply chain disruption, regulatory changes, and a whole slew of other unpredictable situations. Unless corporations start adding fortune tellers to the payroll, successful procurement groups will continue to optimize their function from the insight gained through predictive analytics.

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Dealing with Supply Chain Peaks and Valleys

Online shopping was made for me. I do not like anything about traditional shopping (the time, the money, the effort). Therefore, online shopping is a dream: with just a few clicks, it is done! The delivery method is often by UPS and occasionally FedEx. That is how I did 90% of my holiday shopping this past year. I was in heaven!

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Which of my 2014 Procurement Webinar Notes got the Most Traffic?

Some days I think I eat, sleep, and breathe procurement and supply chain webinars. On a weekly basis I update the calendar. I consider the topics, the speakers, the hosts, the likelihood of promotional content versus thought leadership. I make my recommendations every Monday (on Blog Talk Radio) and share my notes on Fridays.

In 2014 I covered 29 webinars by sharing my notes on Buyers Meeting Point and through social media. They covered a broad range of subjects, including risk, talent, organizational issues, negotiation, and global supply chains. When I look back at the hits per post over the course of the year, there are 5 that stand out for getting over 1K hits each. You might think it was a simple matter of time, and there is something to that – some of our oldest event notes have over 50K hits – but these five events were pretty evenly distributed over the course of the year. They also all have unique hosts, presenters, and topics.

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Book Review: Logistics and Supply Chain in Emerging Markets

Logistics and Supply Chain in Emerging Markets (Kogan Page, 2014) by John Manners-Bell, Thomas Cullen, and Cathy Roberson adeptly captures the interconnectedness of global economies and commercial activity while also studying a number of countries and industries independently.

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Book Review: Humanitarian Logistics

Humanitarian Logistics: Meeting the Challenges of Preparing for and Responding to Disasters (Kogan Page, 2014), by Peter Tatham and Martin Christopher, provides a look inside the challenges faced by the people and organizations providing relief after disaster strikes.

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Looking in the mirror for organizational self-assessment

“I’m starting with the man in the mirror, I’m asking him to change his ways……Take a look at yourself and make a change”.

 

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