Supply Chain Management Essay

9446 words - 38 pages

1. IntroductionOver the past few years the area of Supply Chain Management (SCM) has received much attention by a large number of academics, consultants and practitioners who are involved actively or not with the processes of developing, manufacturing, distributing, commercialising/selling and ultimately delivering a product or a service to end consumers. This ever-increasing interest has been caused by two main reasons. The first one is that people have started to realise the competitive advantage and overall benefits such as big cost reductions, decreased time deliveries, increased efficiencies, and higher profitability that can be gained by managing effectively and in a more collaborative way supply chain activities. The second reason is basically the sum of all the environmental/external-market trends and pressures such as demanding customers, rising competition, more complex products/services, and shorter product life cycles, which push organisations to look for more flexible, efficient, integrated, innovative and responsive mechanisms for running and managing their supply chains' activities.Many organisations have started taking advantage of the Information Technologies/Information Systems (IT/IS) developments so as to obtain those mechanisms for increasing the performance and achieving better management of their supply chains' activities.Unquestionably, IT/IS provide tremendous opportunities for better collaboration, communication, intra as well as inter organisational integration, and overall better control of supply chains. But IT/IS are not all the same and thus they do not have the same effects and outcomes on organisations' supply chains. For example, there are IT/IS that just automate and speed up the processes and jobs of a supply chain; there are IT/IS, which can be used only for the automation or the integration of just one SCM process (e.g. an IT/IS for inventory management). There are IT/IS that are employed for the integration of all the internal supply chain's processes/activities (e.g. integration of purchasing, ordering and manufacturing). There are IT/IS that connect and integrate the supply chain activities of two or more organisations. And finally, there are IT/IS that can alter the supply chains of organisations and put into practice their own philosophy of managing and running supply chains (e.g. off the shelf software packages for SCM).The vendors who develop each of those IT/IS for SCM are also varied in terms of size, practices and technologies employed (e.g. Internet, Electronic Data Interchange), areas of specialisation (e.g. there are vendors who develop IT/IS exclusively for the SCM of the petrochemical companies), and methodologies for introducing their IT/IS for SCM to organisations.Probably the only thing that IT/IS vendors have in common is that they all promote, guarantee and assure organisations that their IT/IS initiatives for SCM are the finest in the market in terms of potential risks and complexities,...

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