Supply chain management industry has experienced growth due to its relationship with technology and innovations. An investigation with an employee in the supply chain industry of a company reveals systemic challenges on the decision making and process system dilemmas. Challenges range from poor models of supplier identification, product quality due to defective parts, and customer dissatisfaction, which is based on delay in the delivery timelines or system deviations or variances of the products. Through the interview, it becomes evident that skill building, employee motivational approaches, and customer sensitivity are important aspects of the supply chain management processes. Worth noting is that companies operating in the supply chain industry should invest in knowledge building through training and development and the observance to the industry accreditation process. Therefore, this approach will ensure that the information received from the interview is mitigated upon using better operational management system in the supply chain departments.
Supply Chain Management System
Interviews are scheduled to gather information and ascertain the state of knowledge or the preparedness of a candidate in managing some specific tasks expected on the objective of the interview. The interview was based on a graduate of Kent State US who graduated in 1985. The interviewee graduated with a Degree in Computer Science. His first assignment was in a company he had formed named the LDI. His major work expectation in the company was to work as a programmer. The interviewee having missed opportunity in the field of programming took up a marketing and sales appointment with a new company working there for 10 years. The job involved managing roles as a PC distributor within the delivery channels of the company. The company was involved in both production and marketing and upon the closure of the PC sales division; the interviewee accepted redeployment to the programming division in the company. The interviewee has immense experience in supply chain management having worked in the industry for over 10 years. This report annotates the information deduced from the interviewer based on questions and answers session and seeks to ascertain the level of competency and knowledge in the supply chain management systems.
The questions raised in the interview and the responses received are herein presented.
- What is the common problem in the supply chain?
The interviewer responded, noting the issues of diversity as common challenges in the supply chain systems. He avers that having taken up assignment in China and Taiwan involving cultural diversities among clients or customers lead to different products and product features expectations. He further explains that even though majority suppliers struggle to attain market relevance, lack of backup risk plan for suppliers is a common problem. This includes the development of extra or additional product lines in the market. Ethics and market compliance issues are also a challenge in the supply chain management industry. These also include the poor collaborations between employees, leading to variances in skills and professions clash during operations and production processes.
- What do you like the most in the supply chain management?
Interaction with the people, including customers and members of the public is one of the greatest opportunities in supply chain management. The ability to manage products’ costs through designing new projects and developing process improvements within a relatively lower labor cost markets is another benefit of the supply chain management. Working with new teams across the globe and scheduling new project trials and testing processes assist in risk mitigations while lowering cost of shipments to previously none served customers.
- How do you select the suppliers?
The process of selecting suppliers is divided into two major steps, which are expected to deliver quality data and information for decision-making.
- Suppliers Review Process
The process of supplier reviews is managed through a capacity assessment analysis to ascertain the operational strengths of the supplier and the compatibility with the company. This assessment is based on the paperwork or hard copies data provided by the company. The assessment runs through the financial data of the company and the licensing information, including the operational capacity of the company. The assessment also takes into considerations the IT systems used by the company, including its effectiveness. The quality systems within the company and certification levels like ISO are also important aspects in the desktop review assessment.
- Supplier / Site visitation
A site visit is scheduled when the desktop paperwork review is completed. The visit is also used to discuss the pricing of the supplier and other logistical issues that may arise to support the suppliers and their operation. The visits are meant to confirm the information on the paperwork presented in the initial assessment.
- How many different departments do you contact on the daily basis?
The work setup of the company allows for interaction within various departments on a daily basis. These departments include the:-
The engineering department, which mostly deals with potential deviations suggested internally or externally by employee or customers. The interactions could also be based on process improvements or a technical issue beyond the operations of the customer. Other interactions include the customer service or sales departments, managing the delivery of company information to the customers and the marketing leading to actual sales deals. The interaction deliverables include the process of providing support such as product coding or other department-based assignments. Interactions also include receiving information for quality departments and discussing quality information and product specifications or their variances.
- What is the greatest challenge in the daily basis in the supply chain system?
The greatest encounter on a daily basis is related to communication. The issue is related to the high emails traffic from departments or customers seeking for product information or verifications aspects among other issues. Frequent departmental meetings bringing together several professional to discuss about products are planned through emails leading to a massive flow that have to be managed timely. Occasionally, there are limited preliminary internal communication on the products and their specifications within the company, leading to limited product information and other operational logistics.
- What kind of soft skills would you recommend for the supply chain to have?
Soft skill and personal attributes are important aspects of the supply chain management systems.
Effective communication skills are important in dealing with partners and team members. Effective negotiation skill is another important skill someone in the supply chain industry should demonstrate. The skills support better relationship, hence building a healthy platform for business and competitive advantage between players. Problem-solving skills also helps to manage the challenges with customers or colleagues, Technology savvy is an important skill given the dynamics of innovations experienced in the industry. Computer skills are requisite for operations in the supply chain management industry.
- Do you importance in cross-functional teams in the supply chain team?
Cross-functional teams are an important modern-day management scenario since they foster integrations and improve coordination. I am currently involved in a Cross-functional team working on a product review process. The process includes reviewing the operations of a company’s product by picking a product line that has been running for several years and reviewing it to minimize the cost implications it drives into the corporation. Indeed, this is because the company operates both a production and sales department, bringing in the relevance to the product review committees. The product evaluation process leads to cost reduction model, which is an important factor in the profitability and cost analysis. The process currently involves the purchasing departments, engineering, quality departments, and the senior management team members.
- Do you know about APICS or ISM certifications and the benefits?
APICS and ISM are supply chain management certification models within the industry. The models provide operational system protocols and best practices in the industry. The most beneficial certifications linked to my area or work is the ISM. In fact, this is so since ISM focuses more on material management function which is closer to my area. I have attended group meetings for APICS and realized that it is more related to quality focus compared to ISM that has better focus on material management and the entire process, leading to enhanced inclusivity. I have a bias for ISM compared to APICS
- What one thing do you wish to improve before starting the current job affairs?
Better geographical knowledge would have been of great influence in the supply chain management system. The geographical information would support the global world markets given the change of focus of the modern business environment. Better geography implies better performance since the world is growing into a global hub. Improving the computer background and skills is an important asset in the supply chain; this is supported by my training in IT, which is linked to solving and analyzing system problems for better process management situations.
- What gets you motivated to get out of bed and go for a job of supply chain management?
The motivation in the morning is accelerated by the fact that job assignments and responsibilities must be managed. To reduce the workload and direct assignment related to my position is my motivation. I also receive higher motivation levels when doing assignment related to cost reduction for commodities of the company.
- If you were in college what tips you take for preparation for the supply chain?
The tips for preparing for a supply chain job in college would include getting involved in a coopt job assignment, which includes engaging in an office support to gain practical experience related to the learning coursework in the supply chain management. Working for local companies in supply chain management requires relevant exposure and practical experience. Such experiences include order placement or project development participation. The pre-work exposure is important as it necessitates the need for internship, summer programs or part-time job projects in the industry to build the practical work experience.
- What is your daily routine life at work?
My daily routine at work involves the organizations of department files for easy accessibility of information and managing request for product codes from departments. The daily routine also includes email responses to company or product issues needed by colleagues or customers. Daily routine could also include the handling of material problems like product deviation ideas and managing customer orders that come through the department.
- What are the basic skills that are necessary for the supply chain management?
Worth noting is that communication is a fundamental skill in the management of supply chain. This is an important since it supports the ability to interconnect efficiently with the technical aspects of the products both to the company and the customer. Time management is another important skill in supply chain management. The ability to ask good questions about what is needed in the industry or for the products and the technical know-how to provide relevant information or responses to questions asked about a product is a requisite skill. Technical skills like technology biases are also important, especially having better computer knowledge and information of mobile telephony usage. Such skill includes the ability to find out what is needed promptly while managing the prerequisite skills relevant in performing the roles.
- I heard a lot about six sigma in the supply chain, could you tell me what actually it is?
The Six Sigma in supply chain management includes the tools and strategies for process improvements. The approach involves the systems and processes of the identifications and removal of operational defects while minimizing on variability within the business process. The procedures also include the analysis of the process steps and their quantifiable financial targets. In fact, this also includes the process of achieving stable and predictable results within an operational process. However, I have not previously dealt with the aspect and currently do not deal with it. I have a previous exposure to the model when I was doing my CPM and CPSM, but I know very little about the model. In essence, this could also be used to analyze the number of rejects verses the effective parts.
- If you have another career, what it would be?
Several careers exist in the world relevant to my training in information technology – IT. However, this career is based on company operational stability and quality focus on the products. In this case, my career influence will be managed through operational strengths of the company, years of service, and industry relevance of the market.
- Where do you see supply chain moving in the future?
The future perspectives of supply chain are likely to be influenced and controlled through the wheels of globalization and its dynamic influences. Worth noting is that the aspect implies massive changes in the process situations of work, changing, for instance, the operational process of what is done and how it is done. In addition, it also includes the development of better planning systems or product delivery systems that would manage or facilitate faster attainment of responses or reports on assignments for the technical issues. Serving the base of the pyramid is another focus of the global supply management systems. The aspect involves empirical customer focus and improved customer services and interactions through platforms like social media. As a rule, this may also include entrenchment of Artificial intelligence in management
- What was the worst experience in supply chain ever?
Poor or wrong supplier’s analysis and rating are among the greatest supply chain dilemma in the industry. Apart from the improved supplier situations and experiences, the levels of supply chain dilemmas have been reasonably reduced from the worst supply situation to moderate. However, the worst situations involve a supplier review schedule that delivered wrong results. This included an initial desktop review process of the supplier that was good on paper. The second tier appraisal process of practical follow up, or site visit became quite encouraging. The supplier, however, seemed to have superior technical and professional support not previously anticipated. Therefore, during the operational phase, technical challenges started to emerge. Despite best pricing witnessed, pricing adjustments were realized almost immediately. The first production runs experienced continued quality problems coupled by frequent late deliveries. The supplier turned out to be an almost opposite from what the review and analysis process projected. The dilemma was the fact that the suppliers could not supply what they had indicated to have the capacity.
- What would be advised you would give any prospective person or businessperson who wants to enter in this field?
The preliminary advice to aspiring student in the field of supply chain management is to get involved in practical knowledge as well as gain the work experience in the industry. Aspiring students also need to focus and gain experience in self-presentation and interpersonal skills, while growing their abilities to interact effectively with different personalities.
- How would you keep a good relationship with a supplier?
Effective communication is important in keeping better relationship with suppliers. Staying in constant communications with suppliers, communicating product preferences, and product specifications will positively impact on the relationship. Therefore, treating a supplier like another department within the company is an important process in managing healthy relationship. Long-term relationship building is important when good relationship is anticipated. Indeed, this includes training and building their operational and technical capacities.
- What is your tolerance for the risk and the supply chain?
Risk situations arise in every operational process in business. It is important that a level of risk is acceptable given the human or system limitations. However, the tolerance to risk in the supply chain should involve the management of operational risks, including having alternative or substitute suppliers for products, materials or any other issue involved in the process-systems of the products. Managing macro environmental risks like globalization and providing access to lower labor or material with vast new markets is critical in the supply chain.
Quality in the supply chain management system is measured through an assessment process that yields zero problems or challenges. Therefore, this means that the company will receive parts from the suppliers, process them through various departments, and achieve a final product with no defects. The company seemed to have several quality issues ranging from wrong placements of employees, like an IT expert with a programming bias placed in the sales division. The aspect links together with wrong supplier identification analysis leading to operational dilemmas. Supply chain management system ensures improved quality or products and the efficiency of the system process that leads to the attainment of the final products. The focus on customers and their orientations is an important process of measuring and managing quality. When parts are supplied and processed, but the final products have defects, then the aspect of non-operability scenarios imply that the quality is compromised. Quality is also measured by ascertaining continuous improvements and learning systems within a company.
From the discussions within the questions and the from the interviewee viewpoints, it is important to take advantage of gaining relevant experience whenever an opportunity becomes available in the field of supply chain management. This helps to ease the process changes and system adjustments made in the industry. Familiarity of products or commodity information is important in the industry. Several changes have been introduced due to innovations or technological changes. Therefore, the concept of research and developments plays an important role in understanding operational changes and variances in the market.
Accordingly, keeping on top of the trance is important. The knowledge of what goes ahead in both the local and international markets is important, and how it principally affects the present operations or system changes in the industry. Global business dynamic has changed the operational paradigms of companies through the investment in modern management systems in supply chains that aid in the decision making processes. Given that challenges of decision making exist in the company, there is a need for investment in decision-making support tools to improve efficiency.
SWOT analysis for the company.
Situation analysis of a company is a strategic management tool that supports a company in the development of its strategy to attain competitive advantage in the market.
The SWOT of the company describes a stable position as follows.
i. The company having been in operations for over ten years has a stable customer base, market information, and operational experience
ii. Better for organization of work divided in seamless departments well-coordinated with competent employees
i. High competition based on improving supply chain management system around the world
ii. Understaffing leading to one employee managing various tasks for file organizations, product coding, and sales roles.
i. Globalization has brought better business opportunity and a wider global market
ii. The computer production is an industry with higher prospect innovations and developments for tomorrow.
i. Bigger companies are massively investing in the industry weakening small companies.
ii. Fast depleting systems processes due high innovations in the industry, leading to systemic losses.
The company should invest in better technology and manage improved human resources system. The closure of the programming departments and subsequent reopening implies a level of instability in the decision-making process in the company. Even though the company operates across functional teams as a strategy for cost reduction, it is important that it applies the Six Sigma in supply chain management for the process improvements in the company. The company as a player in the supply chain management should also consider improving staff motivation levels through incentives and other employee-based motivational strategies. Just like any other sector of the global economy, the supply chain industry requires continuous knowledge building and improvement within its professional and operational systems. It is important that the training and development is given absolute priority in order to develop requisite industrial skills
The interview reveals some critical issues in the operations of a supply and chain departments. The process of identifying suppliers becomes an important stage within the supply chain systems. As explained by the interviewee, the mistakes in supplier selection, spell doom for a company. This often leads to poor product quality, unfulfilled expectations from the customer through delays, and the absolute collapse of some departments. Due process and systemic observation to protocol requirement and simulations are critical to the attainment of milestone in the supply chain management systems. Employee accreditation is important in the development of the platform, system, and the general infrastructure of operations. It is important that the company observes requisite accreditation like APICS and ISM for professionalism in the industry. Supply chain industry should be managed by competent employees and better system simulation process to ensure efficiency and effective process timelines.