Technology as the Catalyst for Optimising Supplier Relationships to Improve Customer Experience

Supply chain journey

Demand driven supply chains are becoming ever more complex as customer expectations extend far beyond the right balance of price and quality. From the complexity of having the right product, in the right place, at the right time across multiple channels -– to the spotlight on sustainability and ethical trading, customer expectations are having a growing influence on a retailer’s supplier decisions.

Today, at any given point, consumers want to know where and how the products are made and if they were produced ethically. Yet while there is a desire to build stronger, long term supplier relationships in order to improve performance and minimise supply chain complexity, rising prices in markets such as China, South East Asia and India are pushing retailers to explore new, untested sourcing locations. Without full visibility of the true cost of on-boarding these suppliers – from the costs and delivery challenges associated with poor transport infrastructure to an understanding of a supplier’s ethical performance – the potential business risks are huge.

James Hargraves, Business Development Director (APAC) at Adjuno, explains: “Monitoring, measuring and tracking are still at the heart of optimising supplier relationships. Having full visibility of every aspect of supply chain, scalability and right technology solution will help build foundations and improve customer experience.”

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James Hargraves

Extending Supply Chain Complexity

The retail supply chain has been microscopically reviewed over the past two decades as retailers have looked to achieve the end to end visibility required to improve efficiency and drive out cost. These supply chains have coped with a fast expanding global landscape as well as new international sales channels, via franchises, joint ventures and online sites that have created a complex outward as well as inward supply chain model.

And yet, while logistics operations are growing increasingly advanced, there remains a major gap and potentially catastrophic blind spot between the retailer/supplier processes. A blind spot that could prove extremely costly as companies increasingly look to new suppliers in more unknown markets such as Africa and Myanmar. However, the risk is just as high for those suppliers closer to home, operating in the same country as the goods are sold.

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End to End

For maintaining continuity and compliance, it is vital that all aspects of supplier relations are open and transparent, and correctly documented so that essential supply chains can be maintained, and corporate governance rules followed. This information also needs to be readily available to all parts of the business – something which today’s technology solutions can easily support.

With a single view of every aspect of supplier activity, a retailer can take a far more holistic approach. From the initial on-boarding process to driving continual improvement, the ability to compare suppliers based on the full range of information – from product/price to on time in full delivery, ethical standards and supply chain implications – can transform performance and mitigate risk. With a single set of criteria for all suppliers – rated according to the retailer’s specific priorities – all stakeholders can work effectively together.

With a complete view of a supplier’s performance and logistics – including the supplier’s factory and subcontractors – it is far easier to determine the potential impact of raising ethical requirements on the supply base and the need for additional investment and/or suppliers; while the appeal of a lower product price can be accurately compared to the additional costs associated with a location with limited road or rail infrastructure.

In addition, real time decision making is becoming important to enable retailers to exploit automation to drive down costs, support promotional activity or maximise weather-driven sales opportunities. With this complete supply chain visibility, a retailer can now confidently assess new sourcing models, for example the increased use of dual sourcing to combine low cost Far East suppliers with slightly higher cost providers in the UK or Europe that offer the benefits of shorter lead times; or leverage modes other than shipping, to respond to specific customer demands.

Technology as the catalyst

Sustainability is rising on the global retail agenda.Optimising every supplier/retailer relationship is not a quick-fix solution, but a long-term approach. It not only improves performance but opens up new opportunities to add both flexibility and control to a complex business model. Technology plays a key role in combining and monitoring all the key information regarding supplier on-boarding and measuring their performance. From supply chain implications to ethical constraints, using technology enables retailers to gain control over this complex model and achieve the perfect balance of cost, sustainability and supply chain performance required to meet ever rising customer expectations.

James Hargraves (Business Development Director, APAC), Adjuno

ENDS

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Dominating the CSCP

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At the beginning of the year, I decided to pursue the APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP) designation. In July, I sat for the exam and passed, which has led to my receiving countless questions about my journey. This article is intended to provide anyone considering earning this certification with all the lessons learned, tips and answers needed to be successful.

Preparation

There are two options for exam preparation: self-study or classroom courses. For me, self-study was the best method of learning and most cost effective. The self-study option includes three books, flashcards, online practice quizzes and exams, and access to the highly regarded APICS Dictionary.

APICS Premier Channel Partner, Australasian Supply Chain Institute, has a bundle deal! The total cost of all the online content and printed materials, week nightly two hour online sessions with a qualified APICS facilitator in Australia, an exam and an exam retake is $4,370 for ASCI PLUS members. The week nightly sessions commence in 23 September 2019. Don’t miss out!

Your own preparation method decision warrants more than just comparing prices. Honestly assess your levels of motivation and dedication to push yourself through 1,500 pages. The online classes will be your discipline! Be wise!

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The APICS CSCP Learning System

A connection of mine reached out to me on the ASCM discussion boards, asking if he could sneak through the exam without reading through the aforementioned material. My response: “There’s no need to sit for the exam without the APICS Learning System material. You failed.”

Honestly, unless you’re an industry titan, the chance of passing without the Learning System is razor thin.

The best way to utilize this system is to follow it sequentially. Assess yourself before you begin reading through the material by taking the pre-test. If you score above 30%, you’re doing better than I did. A low score should not discourage you, but motivate you!

Now that you know where you stand, read an entire module. Complete the end-of-section progress checks. After you’ve finished a module, return to the quizzes and take all of them. I cannot emphasize enough how important it is to avoid memorizing answers. The exam is strictly based on comparison between terms. Use these quizzes to both understand which answer is correct and comprehend why others are incorrect.

Finally, take the post-test and score above an 80% to earn your congratulatory letter.

Flash cards

Write flash cards by hand or in a word-processing program. Memorizing hundreds of key words may zap the enthusiasm out of us all, but writing them even just once helps with retention. Treat this as another type of homework, and it will pay off at exam time.

How long will it take?

Everyone has different levels of experience and learning ability, but a good rule of thumb is your CSCP journey will be a minimum of three months. I began mine in March and tested in July. Along the way, I highly recommend at least touching the material daily. Putting it off for a week and rushing to catch up puts unnecessary stress on you and hinders your ability to learn.

Exam format

The exam has 150 questions. Of those, 130 are operational and 20 are pre-test (not counted). You will have 3 ½ hours to finish. There will be two answers that fit and two that are clearly incorrect. Do you know what the difference between third- and fourth-party logistics? Can you quickly state the triple bottom line? How does a make-to-stock manufacturing organization respond when demand forecasting predicts increased demand due to economic growth?

The exam will question your knowledge of minor variations between two terms (3PL/4PL), if you clearly understand what makes up a term (TBL), and if you understand how one key word is changed by a variable.

Scoring

Scores range from 200-350:

  • Fail – 200-299
  • Pass – 300-350

The questions all carry a hidden weight based on difficulty. The three modules require about a 70% or higher to pass.

Parting tips

Put in the time. Read the books at least once, preferably twice. Write down all of the flashcards. Take the quizzes slowly to gain comprehension. On test day, go slowly and flag questions you simply have no idea how to answer. I flagged a question during my exam and proceeded on. Roughly 30 questions later, something triggered that gave me the answer to the one that had stumped me!

Hope this is helpful to all of you aspiring CSCP designees!

By Michael Nichols, CSCP

Challenges and Opportunities for ASCI as a Professional Accreditation Body

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In its quest towards Professionalising Supply Chain Management, any organisation that attempts to develop a formal professional accreditation scheme in this industry is typically challenged by the fact that Supply Chain Managers are often not on the workforce radar. Supply chain management is still not sufficiently recognised as one of the key components of the execution of corporate strategy and there is still a huge under representation on the executive level.

Supply Chain Managers face unique challenges such as the absence of clearly defined educational pathways that would result in recognised credentials; incomplete or lack of appropriate job descriptions; limited opportunities for Continuous Professional Development; and sometimes, very indistinct career paths.

The industry to date, does not have a Professional Accreditation Body that can work with industry to address these challenges in Supply Chain Management. ASCI has now fully established itself as the Professional Accreditation Body for the Supply Chain Industry.

The opportunities 

ASCI has developed a set of standards and a professional framework that will enhance the quality of the Supply Chain workforce. It will focus entirely on enhancing public trust and confidence in Supply Chain Managers, enable compliance with regulatory or legal requirements across the Supply Chain and enhance the status of Supply Chain Management as a career path.

Through its Ethics Management Program, it will guide the behaviour of Practitioners in the Supply Chain domain, especially when it comes to morally or ethically ambiguous activities.

ASCI, in collaboration with industry, will establish and standardise roles (and the associated knowledge, skills, and abilities) and pathways to better align supply and demand of Supply Chain Professionals and Practitioners, increase awareness of career paths, and facilitate recruitment and retention by employers.

ASCI has developed a Professional Accreditation Scheme that offers its members Professional Recognition of Competence towards Professional and Practitioner Registration.

To become registered or to join a professionalisation committee, please contact the ASCI National Office today at professionalisation@asci.org.au or visit our website: https://www.asci.org.au/professionalising-supply-chain-management

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Dr Pieter Nagel is Head of Professionalisation at Australasian Supply Chain Institute

 

 

 

ASCI as Professional Accreditation Body

Extending an invitation to all Industry Peak Bodies in the Supply Chain

 

ASCI has positioned itself as the Professional Accreditation Body for the supply chain industry. In this capacity, it has developed a Professional Accreditation Scheme, in line with the criteria set by the Professional Standards Authority (PSA), which oversees the legislation for lawyers, accountants, etc.

Although ASCI has not yet obtained legislation for supply chain as a legislated profession, we are following the exact process in the expectation that we will one day be ready to seek formal legislation.

In doing so, the ASCI Professional Accreditation Scheme, in its current form, is the only one of its kind that is based on the PSA guidelines. To distinguish this from the offerings of other organisations, often also referred to as “Professional Bodies”, we need to understand the distinction between the various professional bodies in our industry. The term “Professional Body” is often used by Industry Peak Bodies in their reference to the fact that they serve the “profession”. They do indeed, but not as an accreditation body, rather an Industry Peak Body. They most often offer certification programs, rather than a professional accreditation scheme. Certification programs are not to be confused with a Professional Accreditation Scheme.

Here is the difference:

“Certification”, a formal process of assessing that an individual is qualified in terms of particular knowledge or skills. It requires the candidate to study a particular learning set and write an exam on this set of knowledge in order to obtain certification.

“Accreditation” which, as in the case of lawyers, accountants, engineers, etc provides independent recognition of achievements and maintenance of the exact standards required to join the community of professional supply chain professionals and practitioners.

Professionals and practitioners registered under the professional accreditation scheme, are recognised for their competence, ability, integrity, and service to the profession. It is a voluntary means of demonstrating professionalism and involves being held to account by your peers for your abilities and adherence to ethical standards.

It is in this context that ASCI has commenced discussions with several Industry Peak Bodies in the supply chain domain, with the objective to offer registration against the Professional Accreditation Scheme through these Industry Peak Bodies, to their members, making the scheme more accessible to the broader supply chain community. Peak Bodies that are interested in offering professional and practitioner registration to their members can do so by affiliation with ASCI.

If you represent a peak industry body then we want to hear from you. Contact Our National Office at professionalisation@asci.org.au to commence discussions. It is through our common passion for the sustainability of the supply chain community that we can collectively raise the bar of supply chain management in Australasia.

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Dr Pieter Nagel is Head of Professionalisation at ASCI. Contact him about collaboration or registration at professionalisation@asci.org.au