By Marco Cristini, Business Analyst
The American Production and Inventory Control Society (APICS), is a not-for-profit international education organization with more than 36,000 members. APICS offers certification programs, training tools, and networking opportunities in the supply chain industry. Recently, APICS merged with the Supply Chain Council (SCC), thereby cementing its position as the preeminent global provider of supply chain research, education, and certification programs.
From October 19 through October 21, Eyefreight participated in the annual APICS conference in New Orleans, headlined by Mike Walsh (CEO of Tomorrow) and Peter Thum (Founder of Ethos Water and CEO of Fonderie 47) as keynote speakers. These two lively entrepreneurs discussed several industry trends, including: merging technologies; emerging patterns of human behavior; and strategies for financing supply chain initiatives. In addition, all attendees had the opportunity to join educational sessions on deterrents to supply chain performance and stability, such as: demand planning; forecasting; lean manufacturing; logistics; supplier quality; and sales and operation planning (S&OP).
Because I work for a supply chain software provider, I of course navigated through the agenda towards those sessions focusing on trends in technology. My favorite? “Integrating the Physical and Digital Supply Chain.” Leading the session was Peter Vanderminden, EPG Industry Manager at Microsoft. Peter presented his analysis of enterprise architecture strategies using “SCOR” to design systems that integrate physical and digital supply chains.
In 1996, the SCC developed the Supply Chain Operations Reference, or “SCOR,” as a reference framework for modeling supply chains. The metrics in SCOR are a solid foundation for measuring supply chain performance and identifying priorities within supply chain operations. The framework classifies different supply chain methodologies: Make To Stock (MTS); Assemble To Order (ATO); Make To Order (MTO); and Purchase To Order (PTO) / Engineer To Order (ETO). In addition, SCOR introduces primary functional domains, similar to GEF and Porter’s value chain.
Peter shared some examples of Microsoft’s own meta-models, which represented the relationship between Microsoft’s supply chain execution and its supply chain information input / output. I believe no one in the audience was surprised when Peter remarked on the disconnect between the supply chain’s physical flow versus the supply chain’s digital flow. Shipper, carrier, consultant, software provider – we’ve all been there.
I was impressed by the implementation plan necessary to create a SCOR framework within an organization. Identifying and describing each business activity linked to meeting customer demand is no small feat. The outcome of such an undertaking could only be a robust business model spanning from the supplier’s supplier to the customer’s customer. (It was gratifying to note the SCOR framework can support both simple and complex supply chains.)
There is no doubt in my mind frameworks such as SCOR support ongoing progress in Supply Chain Management, particularly given new technology and the introduction of Cloud-based platforms. However, institutional influence and lack of industry regulation have led to significant confusion regarding standard terminology, metrics, and processes. As an active innovator in the supply chain industry, Eyefreight strongly believes a successful SCM framework is the outcome of: standardized terminology and metrics; alignment on process definitions; boilerplate, end-to-end modeling applicable to multiple verticals; support of global industry standards; and agreement between internal and external supply chain partners.