Strategic Supply Chain Management

Your task is to understand how companies can make use of the resource, capability or function under investigation in supply chain management to support their supply chain strategies and to achieve their set objective, i.e., efficiency or responsiveness or a combination of both.

To support your arguments, you need to provide in-depth analysis of at least one real-world company, which is successful in making use of the resource, capability or function in its supply chain management to excel, as evidence.
This will form the centre of the group presentation video file and the investigation report.

For example, if a group has been assigned to look at how information systems and technology can improve supply chain performance of a firm hence giving it a competitive advantage in the trade or a leading position in the
industry, students can consider the following:

1. Analyse from a theoretical perspective the following:

a. what information systems and technology are referring to in the supply chain domain (i.e., what is it all about);

b. what the latest development in information systems and technology in supply chain is (i.e., what is the state of the art);

c. what activities are involved in the function or how it is implemented or utilized in the supply chain (i.e., how does it work);

d. what value does this function add to products or services (i.e., why is it needed); and

e. how the function or its activities can help improve efficiency or responsiveness of a supply chain thereby giving it a competitive advantage (i.e., why is it important).

For this part, the analysis needs to be comprehensive and cover all possible areas of a supply chain that can benefit from the use of information systems and technology. Relevant references, e.g., sources of information,
should be given to support the statements.

2. Use a relatively well-known real-world company (or few companies if deemed appropriate) to support the arguments made in (1) above. For instance, students can use Wal-Mart as an example to discuss in detail (with
facts, statistics, summary tables, figures, and diagrams, etc. to aid the discussion) how the company made use of information systems and technology to give itself a competitive edge.

During the discussion, students can give a brief background of Wal-Mart prior to discussing how the company has leveraged information systems and technology earlier in its history of development to improve operational efficiency and visibility.

They can also elaborate on Wal-Mart’s insight and endeavour in investing in satellite network, data processing centre, barcode and RFID technologies, how these technologies are used in Wal-Mart’s supply chain, what the benefits are, and how these investments have significantly improved Wal-Mart’s efficiency and/or responsiveness thus giving the company a leading position in the trade.

3. Compare real-world practices (i.e., the activities undertaken by the example company) against theories (i.e., the theoretical discussion about the resource, capability or function under investigation) along the five aspects mentioned in (1) above during the video presentation and in the investigation report to make your arguments convincing.

In this regard, a summary table comparing the various theoretical benefits of the resource, capability or function under discussion against the actual practices in the example company should be shown. It should be noted that activities observed at the real-world example must aligned with those discussed in the theoretical analysis in order to enable a direct comparison. In other words, the two parts – theoretical analysis (Part 1) and real-world example (Part 2) – must be linked.

If Part 1 mentions the use of RFID to improve visibility while the Part 2 mentions the use or ERP for internal integration, the two discussions are disjoint and there is no linkage or articulation between them. As such, Part 2 cannot serve as evidence to support Part 1.

In brief, Assignment 2 is a focused investigation of a particular aspect of the supply chain management illustrated with successful utilization of the resource or implementation of the function in question to gain competitive advantage by a real company (or companies) as example. The whole idea is to link the theories, concepts, approaches, techniques you have learned from this course with the actual practices in the real world.