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Author: Gerly Kiipsaar
Title: Foundations of Supply Chain Management

Country: United States
Avialable for Download: Yes

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Table of Contents

I        Introduction
II       Concept of Supply Chain Management
III      Four Categories of Supply Chain Operations Based on SCOR Model

A.       Plan
B.       Source
C.       Make
D.      Deliver

IV      Supply Chain Metrics
A.       Customer Service
B.       Internal Efficiency
C.       Demand Flexibility
D.      Product Development

V        Information Systems and Technology that Support the Supply Chain
VI      Conclusion
VII     References



Supply chains and the tasks that go with supply chain management very much depend on the eyes of the beholder. Different companies and even managers in a single company have different viewpoints, and these are evolving rapidly.

There is no right or wrong supply chain viewpoint. In fact, the view in one company probably should differ from the view in another. This is because their situations are surely different, and what makes one successful won’t work for another. Also, the right viewpoint is not static. As time moves on and competitive pressures shift, the need to change viewpoints will arise.

The old way of delivering product was to develop relatively inaccurate projections of demand, then manufacture the product and fill up warehouses with finished goods. The old ways are fading fast as management across all industries has come to accept that collaboration with customers and suppliers in the planning and replenishment process can and must be made to work very effectively. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, SCM))

As customers and suppliers band together in mutually beneficial partnerships, the need for better supply chain management processes and systems is more evident and becomes a very high business priority. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, SCM))

For many companies, it has become clear that a supply chain that flows information and material best can be a significant differentiator. Improving supply chain management is getting lots of attention because forward-thinking management knows it is the best strategy to increase and maintain market share, reduce costs, minimize inventories and, of course, improve profits. In many industries, market share will be won and lost based on supply chain performance. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, SCM))

Effectively integrating the information and material flows within the demand and supply process is what supply chain management is all about. In most companies, however, two major and very interdependent issues must be simultaneously addressed. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, SCM))

The first deals with delivering products with customer-acceptable quality, with very short lead times, at a customer-acceptable cost, while keeping inventories throughout the supply chain at a minimum. The second issue, which tends to be less understood and accepted, is the need for high-quality, relevant and timely information that is provided when it needs to be known. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, SCM))

For many customers and manufacturers, business processes and support systems will not measure up to the task of quickly providing planning and execution information from the marketplace to production and on to vendors so that the customer’s objectives are consistently met. The fact is, most information supplied is excessive, often late and frequently inaccurate. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, SCM))

As always, the challenge for top management is setting the right priorities, allocating appropriate resources and, of course, achieving the required results. Complicating the challenge is the enormous risk of not keeping pace in the marketplace, which can result in driving customers into the waiting, open arms of more aggressive competitors. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, SCM))

Regardless of the industry and customer base, more effective supply chain management will be a prerequisite to the future success. In fact, effective supply chain management must become an integral part of the competitive and survival strategy. But before meaningful action plans can be implemented, be sure to assess the circumstances and develop a strategy that is appropriately aimed at what the customers want, need and value. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, SCM))

Concept of Supply Chain Management

Supply Chain Management is the management of the business supply chain, where the supply chain includes any function that is required to produce and deliver the final product to the customer. More specifically supply chain functions include: managing supply and demand, selecting sources for raw materials or parts, producing / assembling / packaging, warehousing, maintaining and tracking inventory, managing order entry, and providing distribution across all channels including delivery to the customer. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, SCM))

It is a coordinated set of techniques to plan and execute all steps in the global network used to acquire raw materials from vendors, transform them into finished goods, and deliver both goods and services to customers. It includes chain-wide information sharing, planning, resource synchronization and global performance measurements.

The key is to deliver the right product to the right place at the right time and at the right price. And anyone, anything, anywhere that influences a product’s time-to-market, price, quality, information exchange or delivery, among other activities, is part of the supply chain.

Supply chain management is the act of integrating any or all activities associated with supply chain flows that occur inside or outside the company. Two important objectives of supply chain management are getting the right supply chain strategy to meet or exceed customer expectations, and providing communication between suppliers and trading partners to enable collaboration. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, SCM))

Supply chains exist in both manufacturing and service industries and they come in two basic formats: single stage and multi-stage. A single stage supply chain is typically found within a company and incorporates every function performed by the firm. Some of the processes involved with the single stage supply chain include: the flow of raw materials or sub-assemblies, manufacturing, inventory control, distribution, the handling of funds and working capital, and equipment management. In a multi-stage supply chain different functions are performed in different companies. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, SCM))

As already mentioned, supply chain management coordinates material, information and financial flows between and among all the participating enterprises. Material flows involve physical product flows from suppliers to customers through the chain, as well as the reverse flows via product returns, servicing, recycling, and disposal. Information flows involve demand forecasts, order transmissions, and delivery status reports. And financial flows involve credit card information, credit terms, payment schedules, and consignment and title ownership arrangements. (Sheikh, Khalid (2003, pp. 540-541))

Effective supply chain management enables the company to make informed decisions along the entire supply chain, from acquiring raw material to manufacturing products to distributing finished goods to consumers. Fast and effective flow of both information and materials is essential for improving the supply chain. (Sheikh, Khalid (2003, 540))

As the supply chain encompasses all activities associated with the flow and transformation of goods from the raw materials stage, through to the end user as well as the associated information flows, supply chain management is the integration of these activities through improved supply chain relationships, to achieve a competitive advantage. (Lovejoy, James L. (2003))

Knowing that integration is difficult to accomplish, why would the companies want to spend the resources to synchronize their business processes? The study below shows why. There are big rewards for the successful partnerships, like:

Delivery Performance        16%-28% improvement
Inventory Reduction                   25%-60% improvement
Fulfillment Cycle Time       30%-50% improvement
Forecast Accuracy             25%-80% improvement
Overall Productivity          10%-16% improvement
Lower Supply-Chain          25%-50% improvement
Costs                              25%-30% improvement
Fill Rates                         10%-20% improvement
(Lovejoy, James L. (2003))
One of the easiest improvements to make is to share demand data. Most retailers today offer to share the point of sale data and forecasts with their suppliers. Everyone is seeing the same view of demand at the same time. This improves forecasting and planning for all the partners, which will increase responsiveness and decrease just in case inventory. (Lovejoy, James L. (2003))

Collaborative supply chains will not be successfully implemented overnight. It will require changes in business practices and implementation of systems to support the collaborative environment. Small-scale pilots will be necessary to ensure the synchronization and integration of technology with new processes before large-scale implementations are attempted. (Lovejoy, James L. (2003))

Four Categories of Supply Chain Operations Based on SCOR Model

The functional supply chain viewpoint is what exists in most companies today, where companies do not think in supply chain terms. In this view, companies are composed of individual departments. Manufacturing company examples include procurement, operations, engineering, and distribution. Each department has, to a large degree, its own agenda. Oversight of links between departments is weak within the company, and between companies in the supply chain, it’s practically non-existent. (Ayers, James B. (2000))

Performance evaluation in these companies is typically cost-dominated. Procurement is measured on the purchase cost of material and material overhead rates. Manufacturing has measures such as direct labor productivity. Distribution effectiveness is measured on the percentage of selling price represented by distribution cost. (Ayers, James B. (2000))

Seamless collaboration with complete information sharing between all supply chain participants is still in the future. But there are strategies to deal with the current transitional state to help to come out on top today. (Varghese, Jacob (2003))

The vision of supply chain management evolved with the aim of integrating separate functions like forecasting, purchasing, manufacturing, distribution, sales and marketing into a harmonious ecosystem that would envelop the company's suppliers and customers. Supply chain management promised to align all participants to act in unison to serve the end customer. (Varghese, Jacob (2003))

To better understand these operations and how they relate to each other, I will use the supply chain operations reference or SCOR model developed by the Supply-Chain Council. The SCOR model is based on four distinct management processes: plan, source, make, and deliver. The SCOR spans all customer interactions, from order entry to paid invoice. It includes all product transactions and all market transactions. I will use these four categories to organize and discuss supply chain operations in next paragraphs. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 44))


Under this process the company should assess supply resources, aggregate and prioritize demand requirements, plan inventory, distribution requirements, production, material and rough-cut capacity of all products and all channels. Make-buy decisions are evaluated under this heading. Decision related to long term capacity and resource planning, product phase in / phase out are undertaken in this phase. (Walsh, Ken (2001))

Supply chain management decisions are based on forecasts that define which products will be required, what amount of these products will be called for, and when they will be needed. The demand forecast becomes the basis for companies to plan their internal operations and to cooperate among each other to meet market demand. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 48))

Inventory management is a set of techniques that are used to manage the inventory levels within different companies in a supply chain. The aim is to reduce the cost of inventory as much as possible while still maintaining the service levels that customers require. Inventory management takes its major inputs from the demand forecasts for products and the prices of products. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 58))

Given the cost structure of a company, there is an order quantity that is the most cost effective amount to purchase at a time. This is called the economic order quantity (EOQ) and it is calculated as:
EOQ = (square root of 2UO / hC),
where U = annual usage rate, O = ordering cost, C = cost per unit, and h = holding cost per year as a percentage of unit cost. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 60))

The EOQ formula works to calculate an order quantity that results in the most efficient investment of money in inventory. Efficiency here is defined as the lowest total unit cost for each inventory item. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 60-61))

If a certain inventory item has a high usage rate and it is expensive, the EOQ formula recommends a low order quantity, which results in more orders per year, but less money invested in each order. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 60-61))

If another inventory item has a low usage rate and it is inexpensive, the EOQ formula recommends a high order quantity. This means fewer orders per year, but since the unit cost is low, it still results in the most efficient amount of money to invest in that item. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 60-61))


Operations in this category include the activities necessary to acquire the inputs to create products and services. Under this process sourcing infrastructure is managed. Various activities like vendor selection, certification and feedback, sourcing quality monitoring, and vendor contracts are conducted. Also activities involved with receiving of material like: obtain, receive, inspect, hold and issue material are undertaken here. (Walsh, Ken (2001))

Also identifying and selecting supply sources when not predetermined, assessing supplier performance and maintaining data, manage supplier network and import/export requirements fall under this operation in supply chain management view. (Supply-Chain Council (2004))

Purchasing is a routine activity related to issuing purchase orders for needed products. Effective procurement, on the other hand, begins with an understanding of how much of what categories of products are being bought across the entire company as well as by each operating unit. There must be an understanding of how much and of what kinds of products are bought from whom and at what price. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 64-67))

There must be an ongoing process to define the procurement capabilities needed to support the company’s business plan and its operating model. This definition will provide insight into the relative importance of vendor capabilities. The value of these capabilities, like quality, service level, just-in-time delivery, and technical support, have to be considered in addition to simply the price of a vendor’s product. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 67))

In many product-making organizations today, the cost of material is the largest cost component. When you talk of the supply chain, these companies think of suppliers and procurement. This brings on programs such as sourcing initiatives, supplier reduction programs, and vendor-managed inventory (VMI). (Ayers, James B. (2000))

These efforts reach outside the company into the upstream supplier base. They include “partnering” with the supplier and shrinking the supplier base. Often, especially when the buyer dominates the seller, partnership talk centers on price reductions. Usually this shifts profits from one party to another in the chain without fundamental improvement. (Ayers, James B. (2000))

As particular business needs arise, contracts must be negotiated with individual vendors on the preferred vendor list. This is where the specific items, prices, lead times, minimum order quantities, and service levels are worked out. Also performance targets must be specified and penalties and other fees defined when performance targets are not met. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 68-69))

Once contracts are in place, vendor performance against these contracts must be measured and managed. Because companies are narrowing down their base of suppliers, their performance of each supplier that is chosen becomes more important. A particular supplier may be the only source of a whole category of products that a company needs and if it is not meeting its contractual obligations, the activities that depend on those products will surely suffer. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 69))


Make process is concerned with production, execution and managing “make” infrastructure. Specifically under production execution activities like manufacturing, testing, packaging, holding and releasing of product are undertaken here. Under managing “make” infrastructure, engineering changes, facilities and equipment management, production status, production quality, shop scheduling/sequencing and short-term capacity are planned and managed. (Walsh, Ken (2001))

Production scheduling allocates available capacity (equipment, labor, and facilities) to the work that needs to be done. The goal is to use available capacity in the most efficient and profitable manner. The production scheduling operation is a process of finding the right balance between high utilization rates, low inventory levels, and high level of customer service. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 80))
Product design and selections of the components needed to build these products are based on the technology available and product performance requirements. A product design that does a good job of coordinating three perspectives – design, procurement, and manufacturing – will result in a product that can be supported by an effective supply chain. This will give a product a fast time to market and a competitive cost. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 80))

The first step in scheduling a multi-product production facility is to determine the economic lot size for the production runs of each product. This is a calculation much like the EOQ (economic order quantity) calculation used in the inventory control process. The calculation of economic lot size involves balancing the production set up costs for a product with the cost of carrying that product in inventory. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 81))

Once production quantities have been determined, the second step is to set the right sequence of production runs for each product. A common technique is to schedule production runs based on the concept of a product’s “run out time”. The run out time is the number of days or weeks it would take to deplete the product inventory on hand given its expected demand. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 81))

The run out time calculation for a product is expressed as: R = P / D, where R = run out time, P = number of units of product on hand, and D = product demand in units for a day or week.  As reality rarely happens as planned, production schedules need to be constantly monitored and adjusted when necessary. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 81-83))


This process consists of order management, warehouse management and transportation management. Under order management activities like maintaining and entering orders, generating quotations, configuring product are undertaken. Further create and maintain customer database, maintain product and price database, managing receivables and credit management also fall under this domain. (Walsh, Ken (2001))

Physical movement of products along stages in the supply chain is an important part of most national economies. Logistics is that part of the supply chain process that plans, implements, and controls the efficient, effective flow and storage of goods, services, and related information from the point of origin to the point of consumption in order to meet customers’ requirements.” (Ayers, James B. (2000))

In the logistics and transportation paradigm, when companies decide to anoint a supply chain executive, they will likely pick the distribution executive. In place of the supply chain term, these companies may turn to an alternative, the demand chain. This reflects attention paid to the outbound, rather than the inbound side, or supply side, of the business. (Ayers, James B. (2000))

This is also a cost reduction effort aimed at incremental improvements in profit. Typical activities include modeling warehouse, distribution center, and transportation networks to reduce cost. Transporting and delivering goods is expensive so capabilities in this area are closely aligned with the actual needs of the market that the supply chain serves.  (Ayers, James B. (2000))

Highly responsive supply chains usually have high transport and delivery costs because their customers expect quick delivery. This results in many small shipments of products. Less responsive supply chains can aggregate orders over a period of time and make fewerand larger shipments. This results in economies of scale and lower transport costs. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 94))

Supply Chain Metrics

Supply chains are fluid and are continuously adjusting to changes in supply and demand for the products they handle. To get the performance desired from supply chains requires a company to monitor and control its operations on a daily basis. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 137))

SCOR is a process model designed for effective communication among supply chain partners by giving them a standard “language”. It is used to describe, measure and evaluate supply chain configurations by defining standard metrics and benchmarking of best supply chain performance, and therefore it supports continuous improvement and strategic planning.

The SCOR model suggests the kind of data that should be collected. In the plan operation, useful measures are the cost of planning activities, inventory financing costs, inventory days of supply on hand, and forecast accuracy. In the sourcing operation, it is useful to have data on material acquisition costs, sourcing cycle times, and raw material days of supply. Also some practice measurement are supplier delivery performance, payment period, and percentage of items purchased by their associated lead time. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 153))

Useful measures in the make operation are the number of product defects/complaints, make cycle times, build order attainment rates, and product quality. Suggested delivery operation measures are fill rates, order management costs, order lead times, and item return rates. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 153))

Also there are four performance categories that each supply chain participant should measure. These categories are customer service, internal efficiency, demand flexibility and product development. In the following paragraphs I will also discuss about some performance metrics that can be used in each of these performance categories. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 137))

Customer Service

Customer service measures the ability of the supply chain to meet the expectations of its customers. Depending on the type of market being served, the customers in that market will have different expectations for customer service. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 141))

Customers in some markets both expect and will pay for high levels of product availability and quick delivery of small purchase quantities. Customers in other markets will accept longer waits for products and will purchase in large quantities. Whatever the market being served, the supply chain must meet the customer service expectations of the people in the market. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 141))

The reason that any company exists is to be of service to its customers. The reason that any supply chain exists is to serve the market it is attached to. These measures indicate how well a company serves its customers and how well a supply chain supports its market. There are two sets of customer service metrics depending on whether the company or supply chain is in a build-to-stock (BTS) or build-to-order (BTO) situation. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 144))

A build-to-stock or BTS situation is one where common commodity products are supplied to a large market or customer base. Customers expect to get these products right away any time they need them. Supply chains for these products must meet this demand by stocking them in inventory so they are always available. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 145))

In a BTS environment the most popular metrics are: complete order fill rate and order line item fill rate; on-time delivery rate; value of total backorders and number of backorders; frequency and duration of backorders; and line item return rate. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 144-145))

A build-to-order or BTO situation is one where customer orders a customized product. This is any situation where a product is built based on a specific customer order and is configured to meet a unique set of requirements defined by the customer. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 145))

In a BTO environment the most popular metrics are: quoted customer response time and on-time completion rate; on-time delivery rate; value of late orders and number of late orders; frequency and duration of late orders; and number of warranty returns and repairs. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 144-145))

Internal Efficiency

Internal efficiency refers to the ability of a company or a supply chain to operate in such a way as to generate an appropriate level of profitability. As with customer service, market conditions vary and what is an appropriate level of profit varies from one market to another. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 141))

In a risky developing market the profit margins need to be higher in order to justify the investment of time and money. In a mature market where there is little uncertainty or risk, profit margins can be somewhat lower. These markets offer the opportunity to do large volumes of business and to make up in gross profit what is given up in gross margin. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 141))

Internal efficiency refers to the ability of a company or a supply chain to use their assets as profitably as possible. Assets include anything of tangible value such as plant, equipment, inventory, and cash. Some popular measures of efficiency are: inventory value; inventory turns; return on sales; and cash-to-ash cycle. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 146))

 Inventory value should be measured both at a point of time and also as an average over time. Supply chains and the companies that make them up are always looking for ways to reduce inventory while still delivering high levels of customer service. This means trying to match inventory availability (supply) with sales (demand) and not have excess inventory left over. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 146))

Inventory turns is a way to measure the profitability of inventory by tracking the speed with which it is sold or turned over during the course of a year. It is calculated by the equation:
Turns = Annual Costs of Sales / Annual Average Inventory Value
(Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 146-147))

Return on sales is a broad measure of how well an operation is being run. It measures how well fixed and variables costs are managed and also the gross profit generated on sales:
Return on Sales = Earnings before Interest & Tax / Sales
(Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 147))

Cash-to-cash cycle time is the time it takes from when a company pays its suppliers for materials to when its customers pay them. This time can be estimated with the following formula:
Cash-to-Cash Cycle Time = Inventory Days of Supply + Days Sales Outstanding – Average Payment Period on Purchases
(Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 147))

Demand Flexibility

Demand flexibility measures the ability to respond to uncertainty in levels of product demand. It shows how much of an increase over current levels of demand can be handled by a company or a supply chain. It also includes the ability to respond to uncertainty in the range of products that may be demanded. This ability is often needed in mature markets. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 142))

Demand flexibility describes a company’s ability to be responsive to new demands in the quantity and range of products and to act quickly. A company or a supply chain needs capabilities in this area in order to cope with uncertainty in the markets they serve. Some measures of flexibility are: activity cycle time, upside flexibility, and outside flexibility. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 148))

The activity cycle time measure the amount of time it takes to perform a supply chain activity such as order fulfillment, product design, product assembly, or any other activity that supports the supply chain. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 148))

Upside flexibility is the ability of a company or supply chain to respond quickly to additional order volume for the products they carry. It can be measured as the percentage increase over the expected demand for a product that can be accommodated. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 148))

Outside flexibility is the ability to quickly provide the customer with additional products outside the bundle of products normally provided. There is an opportunity to acquire new customers and sell more to existing customers when outside flexibility is managed skillfully. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 150))

Product Development

Product development encompasses a company and a supply chain’s ability to continue to evolve along with the market it serves. It measures the ability to develop and deliver new products in a timely manner. This ability is necessary when serving developing markets that are changing constantly. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 142))

Product development measures a company or a supply chain’s ability to design, build, and deliver new products to serve their markets as those markets evolve over time. A supply chain must keep pace with the market it serves or it will be replaced. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 150))

The ability to keep pace with an evolving market can be measured by metrics such as: percentage of total products sold that were introduced in the last year; percentage of total sales from products introduced in the last year; and cycle time to develop and deliver a new product.  (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 150))

Information Systems and Technology that Support the Supply Chain

The information viewpoint seeks to improve the links both within the company and within the supply chain. New applications, plus new ways of moving information around, make this an active area. Electronic Data Interchange (EDI) is an early example of ways to improve communications among companies. One barrier has been the lack of integrated software both inside and outside the company. (Ayers, James B. (2000))

Using high speed data networks and databases, companies can share data to better manage the supply chain as a whole and their own individual positions within the supply chain. The effective use of this technology is a key aspect of a company’s success. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 121))

All information systems are composed of technology that performs three main functions: data capture and communication; data storage and retrieval; and data manipulation and reporting. Different information systems have different combinations of capabilities in these functional areas, and the specific combination of capabilities is dependent on the demands of the job that a system is designed to perform. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 121))

The first functional area is composed of systems and technology that create high-speed data capture and communication networks. It is this technology that can overcome the lag times and lack of big picture information. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 121-124))

These technology possibilities include the Internet, which is a universal communications network that can connect with all computers and communication devices. Also Electronic Data Interchange (EDI), a technology that was developed to transmit common types of data between companies that do business with each other. And XML (eXtensible Markup Language) that is being developed to transmit data in flexible formats between computers and between computers and humans. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 121-124))

The second functional area of an information system is composed of technology that stores and retrieves data. This activity is performed by database technology, and it provides different data retrieval according to the needs of people who use it. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 124-126))

For instance, consider a database that contains sales history for a range of different products to a range of different customers. A customer view of this data might show a customer the different products and quantities they purchased over a period of time and show detail of the purchases at each customer location. A manufacturer view might show all the customers who bought their group of products over a period of time and show detail for the products that each customer bought. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 124-126))

The third functional area is the way that system manipulates and displays the data that flows through. This is determined by the specific business operations that the system is designed to support. (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 126-130))

There are several kinds of systems that support supply chain operations: enterprise resource planning (ERP); procurement systems; advanced planning and scheduling; transportation planning systems; demand planning; customer relations management (CRM); supply chain management (SCM); and warehouse management systems (WMS). (Hugos, Michael (2003, pp. 126-130))


The complexities of getting material ordered, manufactured and delivered overload most supply chain management systems. The fact is that most systems are just not up to handling all the variables up and down the supply chain. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, Effective SCM))

For years, it was thought that it was enough for manufacturers to have an MRP or ERP system that could help answer fundamental questions such as: What are we going to make? What do we need to make the products? What do we have now? What materials do we need, and when? What resources / capacity do we need and when? (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, Effective SCM))

Manufacturers need to know a lot more today to have a truly effective supply chain. In a supply chain, the fast flow of high-quality information and material is inextricably linked and of paramount importance to supply chain management success. (Donovan, R. Michael (2005, Effective SCM))

End-to-end optimization of supply chain operations requires the support of appropriate organizational structures. Behind the boxes, flows, and forks on the organization chart, the right design principles have to be in place to lift performance into the zone of lasting success.
At the core of managing supply chain performance lays the delicate balance between cost and service: inventory versus availability, distribution network versus transportation costs. A well-designed organization must support these decisions by defining clear roles and responsibilities and corresponding performance measures for the outcomes. Managers must clearly delineate these roles and responsibilities in order to make successful tradeoffs among the elements of the supply chain.

Seamless information flow to decision makers is critical for supply chain success. Managers accountable for key supply chain activities must have access to the information they need. Supply chain management performance metrics must be clear and accountability unambiguous. Companies that adopt the end-to-end perspective on key supply chain activities need to have performance measures and accountabilities that clearly support these processes.

Achieving a superior supply chain requires a deep understanding of underlying processes, critical success factors, and the organizational dynamics that guide individual behavior to determine the optimum tradeoffs. Clear roles and responsibilities are more important than structure. Critical supply chain activities and accountabilities should be defined before identifying the organizational “boxes”.

Measuring performance is a process of selecting a handful of meaningful indicators and using them to track company performance.    Supply chains are fluid and are continuously adjusting to changes in supply and demand for the products they handle. To get the performance desired from supply chains requires a company to monitor and control its operations on a daily basis. (Hugos, Michael (2003, p. 137))

As SCOR model includes standard process definitions, standard terminology, standard metrics, supply chain best practices, and references to enabling information technology, and as it is powerful and easy to use tool, it is gaining more and more support among supply chain practitioners.

Just few years ago companies were keeping in secret their unique processes and were more likely to develop unique software applications and approaches to business. A framework-based process redesign might not have been acceptable.

Today, however, businesses are more concerned about cost and speed, so this has moved most companies to using standardized applications and a standardized approach to high-level business process design. Also I feel that as most of the larger companies are increasingly dependent on suppliers and business partners, the standardized approach is almost mandatory, as different companies need to be able to communicate easily and integrate their business processes.

We should not forget that firms are highly complex organizations with multiple divisions. Making an “information slice” across divisions is complex and multidimensional. Addressing this type of information challenge requires business intelligence methods and techniques that look across multiple business dimensions and “mine” the data for its informational content.

Turning information into insight and, in the case of supply chain, means finding opportunities where costs can be taken out and top-line revenue can be added. But anyone who looks at the Supply Chain Operations Reference (SCOR) model and understands its processes realizes the potential this model has and how it could be used to extend the effort of your business into new directions.


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for Virtual Organization and Commerce. Luisiana State University.



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