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.
It comes as no surprise that the chapter on warehouse management is the first and the longest. While I did not read or review the first edition of this book, I did review Gwynne’s Richards’ other book: Warehouse Management (also in its second edition).
The key point in favor of The Logistics and Supply Chain Toolkit is actually made on the very first page of the book – in the 10th line of type to be exact - in an endorsement by Nigel Price, Managing Director, CRP. He says that the book provides the tools as well as the plans for managing logistics and supply chains. As simple as it sounds, that’s all you really need, and it’s harder to find than you might think in the books and other thought leadership published today. Master the basics and their application and the sky is the limit.
Another example of a basic concept that is covered and elevated in the book is the Pareto Principle (a.k.a. the 80/20 rule). I expected the authors to dismiss it as a casual approach to data in a high tech analytical world. Not so. In their opinion (much to the relief of those of us working in the real world…) there is still room for proven rules of thumb. The trick is to apply it where appropriate. 80/20 is a big stick to swing when analyzing broad opportunities rather than a precision approach to be used in more detail sensitive circumstances.
According to the authors, an example of where 80/20 is appropriate is in managing supplier relationships, separating companies with high spend from those with smaller spend. They then expand their discussion of relationships – particularly the strategic ones – by providing a diverse and interesting list of dimensions that qualify the closeness of supplier relationships. These include information shared, the number of people on both sides interacting on a regular basis, and the approach to problem resolution.
One ‘hidden’ gem is something of a mini-essay by Julian Amey (former Vice President of Global Supply Chain for Astra Zeneca) in Chapter 4: Supply Chain Management Tools. The caution he provides to readers not to put too much into strategy – especially if it takes away from our ability to be realistic and focus on results – is perfectly placed and convincingly stated. I would have liked to know more about him from the perspective of the authors, and why he was asked to write this mini-essay, but his inclusion was an absolute win.
I recommend this book for anyone working in the real world of logistics and supply chain that could use some tools and a plan to use them!
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