Knoxville, TN – Working with talented professionals, customer service, agility and reducing cost are just a few of the key issues on the minds of senior level supply chain executives in the US manufacturing and retail sectors, says Dr. J. Paul Dittmann, executive director of the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee – Knoxville.
Meeting in Chicago recently, the Institute’s Advisory Board shared its insights on solutions to some of the most critical issues facing the global supply chain. The board is comprised of 25 high-level managers from some of the largest companies in the country.
According to Dittmann, the executives feel that having “the right people in the right positions” is the key to every solution with companies needing to develop “better processes to assess, identify, recruit, develop and retain top talent, especially since supply chain talent is increasingly scarce.”
Understanding the customer’s current and future needs was also seen as absolutely critical, he says. “They understand that their customers should lead their supply chain strategies and they know that their customers should be better educated on the cost-service tradeoffs.”
AGILITY, COST REDUCTION, REGULATORY COMPLIANCE
Near the top of the list, says Dittmann, are developing the “agility to adapt to changing environments,” given the increasing volatility in the global marketplace and a “need to stay current with technology on many fronts, from warehouse and transportation management systems to network optimization tools and inventory planning systems.”
Cost reduction “will always be a priority and supply chain executives know their companies expect them to take the lead in that area, while still improving service,” he says. “They know that they need to be more creative and proactive. They also understand that they must reduce cost while simultaneously redesigning their supply chains and leveraging the global environment.”
Also critical are developing efficient ways to comply with the growing list of government regulations, as well as optimizing performance despite the condition of the country’s “crumbling transportation infrastructure.”
Supply chain executives, says Dittmann, “understand they should have a better process to identify, prioritize and mitigate supply chain risks that can seriously damage their companies. Even weather must be considered, especially given the extreme challenges of last winter.”