Supply Chain Challenges and Solution

by James P. Tate on May 5, 2014

Over the past ten years there has been a major effort in the manufacturing world to streamline corporate supply chains. The goal of these efforts has been to improve quality, speed delivery times from vendors, reduce inventory and respond more quickly to customer requirements and new product development. These are all laudable goals and many companies have seen significant improvements in performance and profits through these efforts.

However, in recent years we have seen major problems occur in the supply chains of major Fortune 500 companies. These disruptions have been caused by a variety of problems: political tensions in supplier countries; natural disasters of a large magnitude that have disrupted or destroyed vendor factories and transportation links; bad publicity due to discovered labor violations at suppliers. All of these problems have had a serious impact on the customers and the product companies. Many of these problems were waved off as unforeseen or single occurrences. However, far too many of these disruptive problems could have been foreseen and were actually a proverbial “sword of Damocles” hanging over the heads of the operations departments from the very beginning.

However, you should not throw out the baby with the bath water. Global supply chains, if designed and managed properly, can contribute significantly to profits. If you are prepared to utilize the benefits of a global or even a national supply chain, you could benefit from having a knowledgeable professional help you establish this supply chain.

APICS (the American Production and Inventory Control Society) has long recognized the importance of a sound supply chain. They have established a professional education and certification program for supply chain management. Since the program’s inception in 2006 over 13,000 professional have earned the CSCP designation. This CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional) program is designed to provide the individual with a mastery of supply chain management best practices. The certified professional can be considered an industry expert with specialized, high-level knowledge and skills in this discipline. Many companies have recognized this program and demand that recruiters bring them only certified professionals.

The APICS CSCP program consists of three modules: The modules, and just some of their components, are shown below:

1. Supply Chain Management Fundamentals-

a. The basic concepts, primary processes objectives, integration methods and rewords of a sound supply chain.

b. The key considerations for planning, inventory control and continued improvement.

c. Demand forecasting and effective management techniques.

d. Effective customer relationship management.

2. Supply Chain Strategy, Design and Compliance

a. Sustainability practices in design and operation

b. Measurement, responsiveness, operations and communications.

c. Risk, its sources, impacts and mitigation methods.

d. Globally dispersed supply and demand and the effects on logistics.

e. Fundamentals of supplier relationship management.

f. Inventory planning and control methods.

3. Implementation and Operations

a. Supply Chain dynamics and the balance of responsiveness and efficiency

b. Managing supply from internal and external sources.

c. Implementation of demand plans.

d. Tools and techniques to support continuous improvement.

More details on the CSCP certification program can be found at

If you are considering enhancements to your supplier base and improving the sourcing of materials, you should utilize the expertise of APICS professionals to develop a best practices supply chain that will fit your needs and improve your profits.

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