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Video: Best practices for facing today's supply chain management challenges

Meeting the demands of a complex and volatile global supply chain can be a difficult task, especially during the economic downturn. At the 2010 Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals global conference, Dr. Robert Lieb, Northeastern University Professor of Supply Chain Management, outlined ways to overcome some of today's biggest supply chain management challenges.

In this video, find answers to these SCM questions:

  • What are some of the most common SCM challenges for manufacturers during the recession?
  • What steps can a manufacturing IT or shop floor manager take to solve these challenges?
  • Are there any "must-have" software features for SCM-ERP integration?
  • What are some common manufacturing SCM mistakes or pitfalls?
  • In the past five years, what new SCM software trends or changes have emerged?
  • What does the future hold for manufacturing SCM software?

Read the full transcript from this video below:  

Video: Best practices for facing today's supply chain management challenges

Brenda Cole: What are some of the most common challenges
in the SCM area you think that manufacturers have to deal with
on a daily basis, especially in light of the recent recession and
economic challenges?

Dr. Robert Lieb: I think a big challenge for manufacturers is
trying to right-size their organization. You ended up with
tremendous excess capacity in many companies over that
period of time, so the challenge has been to try to bring the
size of the organization in coherence with what the market
is looking for at this point in time. In many cases, you have
the capacity sitting idle, you have ended up laying off
manufacturing personnel, so it has been a very difficult

Brenda Cole: What are some good first steps you think
that a manager, shop, or person could take to use SCM
to address the challenges the manufacturing industries
are facing now?

Dr. Robert Lieb: I think, clearly, the integration within a company,
between the people in supply chain, management, manufacturing,
marketing, and IT, is one of the most significant
developments in the last 50 years. These people need to
know what the other is doing, they need to be on the same
page in terms of planning, they need to make sure the
supply hits the manufacturing floor at the right time; you
do not want to over-store inventory. I think that the major
thread that ties them all together is the sharing of
information and working together to try and take any
unnecessary processes or activities out of the organization
to lower cost.

Brenda Cole: Are there any must-haves or functionality
that definitely needs to be in an ERP SCM integration,
or any software being used in the supply chain?

Dr. Robert Lieb: I think the problem is that in a lot of organizations
you have different systems in different parts of the organizations.
If you have different geographies, in many cases they have
systems that are completely unique that do not talk to each
other, so a real challenge, and a real opportunity, I
think, is getting everybody on the same basic platform and
being able to share common metrics that everybody agrees
upon. In many larger organizations, that is not the case,
particularly companies that have grown through acquisition
throughout the years, where you have a lot of legacy
systems in place, and you have a real need to try to tie
those systems together or replace them completely.

Brenda Cole: What do you think are some of the most
common supply chain-related mistakes that people
make on a daily basis in manufacturing environments?

Dr. Robert Lieb: There are a lot of them, and it varies from company
to company. I think that the biggest mistake, personally, is failure to
communicate. I think that runs across the organization
between functional areas, between the organization and its
supply, and between the organization and its customer base.
I think that without a common knowledge base being shared
by those people, you end up over-producing or under-
producing, and bringing in unnecessary material that takes
up space and consumes capital. I think, really, failure to
communicate; failure to coordinate is the biggest day-to-
day problem that companies in manufacturing face at this

Brenda Cole: In the past five years, what are some of
the biggest changes or trends you have seen in the
SCM space?

Dr. Robert Lieb: I think there are a handful of them. First and
foremost is that this whole industry, or this whole set of activities
in the corporate setting, has had to adjust to the worst recession
we have seen since the Great Depression, so you have ended
up having to scale back the nature of your activities, how
you played off people that you have worked for years to try
to build into a workforce within the organization itself.
You face a lot of pressure from the top of the organization
to take unnecessary costs, steps, and processes out of the
organization, and try to apply leading-edge supply chain
management thinking to everything that you do at this
particular point in time, while under the gun from the
financial community.

Brenda Cole: Where do you see the future of SCM heading
right now? Are there any trends on the horizon that are going
to be big in the next few years?

Dr. Robert Lieb: I can look at it from the academician's lens.
Our programs are growing tremendously, all of our students
gets jobs, there is a lot more CEO, CFO recognition of, not only
of the costs involved in supply chain management, but how, if you
manage it properly, you can create a competitive advantage
in the marketplace by giving better levels of service to
customers, and you do not have to basically compete on a
price basis all the time.

Brenda Cole Thank you so much for joining us today.

Dr. Robert Lieb: My pleasure.

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:The implementation of supply chain management (SCM) can be both beneficial and challenging to your business. Determining supply chain challenges before they happen is critical to SCM success, as the failures and successes are extremely visible to your trading partners. In order to achieve successful implementation of SCM, take note of the following supply chain challenges

Ø Don’t Assume SCM Technology Fixes Everything

Ø Don’t Use the Past to Predict the Future

Ø Don’t Rely on Sale Data

Ø Don’t Forget to Communicate 

Ø Don’t forget about a supplier’s capability