Integrating a supply chain under a single executive can drive business value, but only if an organization is able to master the challenges required, researchers say in a study released Tuesday by the University of Tennessee.
While the strategy may drive value for some businesses, it requires dedicated leadership to succeed, according to the Global Supply Chain Institute (GSCI) in the Haslam College of Business at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. With that hurdle in mind, the paper strives to answer the question, "Is end-to-end supply chain integration the right strategy for your business?"
"True integration work is complicated," said co-author Michael Burnette, the associate director of GSCI. "Not all companies can succeed at it, and we have to ask ourselves if leadership is truly committed to increasing the supply chain's capability in the long term. Mapping a supply chain system requires substantial resources," Burnette said. Additional authors include Dan Pellathy of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Mich., and Scott Meline of Partner Meline Consulting LLC.
Together, the researchers compiled anonymized data from 16 leading companies to create the whitepaper, which is titled "Supply Chain Integration Strategy: Best Practices." The study presents eight best practices—culled from more than 100 possible approaches generated in the research—and offers details on their implementation, examples of success stories, and an integration tool kit.
"Integrated structures are an important step in the right direction, but driving a sustained competitive advantage requires a data-based approach towards end-to-end integration of the supply chain, and that's what this paper seeks to redefine," Burnette said.
Boston-based Maine Pointe, a global supply chain and operations consulting firm, sponsored the white paper and provides a case study about work it did for an agricultural and distribution business using its Total Value Optimization approach.
That approach is one key way to deliver value throughout the end-to-end supply chain, according to Maine Pointe Chairman and CEO Steve Bowen. "We were able to take a more holistic approach to the buy-make-move-fulfill supply chain and deliver the greatest value at the lowest cost to this business," Bowen says.