Contemporary Research Trends in Operations and Supply Chain Management


The importance and dominance held by supply chain management is immeasurable. The realization of this is what can make businesses a magnanimous success or a terrible failure. The flexibility of supply chain management systems has become of prime importance in recent years. Some of the recent issues associated to supply chain management are customer service to customer relationship management, adversarial relationship to supplier collaboration, incremental change to a transformational agile strategy, functional focus to process integration, absolute value for the firm to relative value for the customers, forecasting to demand management, training to knowledge based learning, vertical integration to virtual integration, information hoarding to information sharing and visibility and managerial accounting to value based management. These trending issues are associated to supply chain management, which companies and large scale organizations are facing today, have proven the need for research on this topics at both the national and international levels. Hence the move towards finding solutions for these trending issues is important.

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The transformation of clusters of few monopoly markets to a perfectly competitive environment has triggered the new era of globalization. This globalization has now become the drive for managers to reinvent and redefine organizational structure. Due to the shrinking product life cycle and large variety of products, fulfillment of the customer demand is not the primary criteria. The success of business lies on retaining the customer base. The sustenance of business, now, relies on effective operational strategies to reduce the overall cost. Also, striking a balance between standardization of processes and local innovation is a key challenge which provides a comparative and competitive advantage to a particular organization. As the global markets are highly intertwined, the companies are trying to leverage their global assets and talent pool to enable greater market responsiveness. With such increasing pressure in the global business scenario, innovation and understanding the customer are primary things that a company must concentrate upon to thrive a decade ahead.

The success of a business lies in value maximization of shareholders wealth. To achieve that, it is mandatory that any sort of non-value adding activities are eliminated and a quality product is delivered to the customer. The main resource for any organization is the raw material itself which forms a major part of the expense. To eliminate the idle time of waiting of raw material and to ensure a lean flow it is imperative that right suppliers who are the originators of any supply chain are identified and materials are procured. Henceforth supplier management becomes integral part of operational activities. New competitive suppliers enter the market due to globalization which facilitates the need to integrate the procuring process under a common platforms such as ERP. Therefore, it is essential for a business to develop an efficient and effective procurement cycle. Only then a strong link is formed in the supply chain.

With rapid globalization and cut-throat competition in today’s business scenario, efficient supply change management has become an absolute necessity. In order to manage the huge supply chain which consists of hundreds of activities starting from supplier’s suppliers and ending at consumer’s consumers, standardized methodologies are required. There comes the role of modelling of SCM system which includes descriptive modelling as well as prescriptive modelling.
Descriptive Modelling is a mathematical process that describes real-world events and the relationships between factors responsible for them. Prescriptive modelling uses mathematical programming combined with heuristic methods. Descriptive modelling includes forecasting, data mining, activity based costing, performance metrics, simulation and system dynamics while prescriptive modelling includes optimization models. 

A lean operation is about waste minimization and an agile operation is about responsiveness. As supply chain includes a long series of activities which convert raw materials into finished goods and get it delivered to end users, there is a huge probability of system generating waste and becoming incapable of fulfilling customer’s immediate needs.
Lean operations minimize transport, excess inventory, and motion within the plant for production activity, waiting, over production, over processing, defects and underutilisation/misutilization of skill. Hence it creates an efficient and cost effective supply chain network.
Agile philosophy enhances the supply chain’s responsive capability so that it can quickly adopt to sudden change in demand, adjust to supplier’s uncertainties and make up for any anomalies created during the entire supply chain’s activities to fulfil customer’s demand on time.
While implementing both philosophies, there will be points where one will clash with the other. At those points a trade-off should be obtained between incurred cost and timely delivery to make the supply chain efficient and effective.

A multidimensional learning and innovation in the field of supply chain is desired to direct future efforts to increase the effectiveness in future projects of the organisations. Productive learning leads to innovation and involves three stages namely-exploration, assimilation and exploitation. Exploration refers to understanding and exploring valuable new knowledge outside the industry. Second stage, assimilation refers to processing of this knowledge through transformative learning. Third and the final stage involves exploitation of the assimilated knowledge to give rise to refinement of existing competencies. This process of constructive and productive learning which increases the capacity of the organisation to identify, develop and implement goal oriented actions lead to disruptive innovations.

“Anything measured tends for improvement”. Performance measurement provides a direction to the organization to improve its supply chain and integrate it with substantial help from financial and human resources, technology and tight knit business processes. Improving supply chain requires a multi-dimensional approach which includes qualitative measures (such as product quality and customer satisfaction) and quantitative measures (such as supply chain response time, flexibility, order-to-delivery lead time, delivery performance).Variety of approaches have been developed over the years such as, the Balanced Scorecard, the Supply Chain Council’s SCOR model, the Logistics Scoreboard, Activity-Based Costing (ABC) and Economic Value Analysis (EVA).Once the company’s roadmap is laid out it can set and develop performance metrics to ensure its objectives are met.

Supply chain has taken a prominent role in value addition from early 90’s. Organisations have understood the importance of having organized supply chain practices. The SCM has evolved a lot since then and sustainability has been major issue to look upon.
Accountability, Performance scoring and guidance of all stakeholders can add value at every stage of supply chain. Global leaders in industries have developed their own practices and methods, coupled with restless urge to improvement, to remain on top.
Vertical and Horizontal integration has been a common practice to bring together suppliers and customers for minimizing value loss. There’s a significant disconnect between supply chain executives and midlevel management. Too often, the people who are expected to make change happen don’t see the same picture. As a result, they are not able to take the steps needed to drive meaningful change in the supply chain. The fact that so many companies are struggling, however, does provide an opportunity for those willing to take a more deliberate and focused approach. After all, operations professionals do see value in pursuing sustainability.
The future may see many improved practices which have been a product of disruptive innovations and competition to be leader in the market place.

Services operations management is the term that is used to cover the activities, decisions and responsibilities of operations managers in service organizations. Services operations management is concerned with delivering service to the customers or users of the service. It involves understanding the service needs of the target customers, managing the processes that deliver the services, ensuring objectives are met, while also paying attention to the continual improvement of the services. As such operations management is a central organizational function and one that is critical to organizational success.
In the recent past, the services have got major attention from daily human personal needs to other industries like manufacturing. Each service exhibits distinctive characteristics, which makes services different from goods. Service sector is comprised of various industries which are diverse in the terms of labor requirement, investment requirements and many other aspects. The labor requirement, for example, ranges from a hair salon service with few employees to airline industry with huge number of employee base. A big multi-specialty hospital is more capital intensive service industry than a small doctor’s clinic dealing with single specialty. In spite of such diversity certain service industries share some similar features which can be capitalized to implement common marketing and service strategies.
The current age of customization has also driven the use of concepts of operations management to various services to optimize and provide best value of money. In Indian context, economy has taken a big leap from agrarian to service industry, hence service operation management plays a major role.

Operations management refers to the activities, decisions and responsibility of managing the purchase, production and distribution of products and services. Effective operations management is an important part of sustainability as it helps you to ensure that you are able to meet the needs of your customers over a sustained period of time.

Increasing the sustainability of your operations involves improving efficiency to help reduce costs, utilize available capacity and achieve business objectives. Efficiently using your resources means that you are getting as much positive return from them as possible. It allows you to offer lower prices to consumers while maintaining your profit margins, providing you with a sustainable source of revenue.

You need to structure your business so that you utilize the skills, knowledge and experience of your employees to their maximum potential. Recruiting the right people for the right jobs and providing them with the necessary support and responsibility to work efficiently is important to the long term sustainability of your business.

The role of Data in Making Managerial decisions has gained a lot of importance in modern business governance. The amount of available data is increasing day by day and the use of this data in successfully analyzing and interpreting the present and future circumstances of a company gives it the leading edge over others. A lot of this depends on the collection of right data. As said by Jeff Bladt and Bob Filbin “There is a difference between numbers and numbers that matter”. So the role of managers in data driven decision making is what to use, how to use and when to use.

 There are various risks associated to the supply chain management structure. This is primarily because of the complexity in different business structures and its operations. However broad the term risk in supply chain may sound, the risk situations are different based on circumstances affecting the business processes. Most of these risks are categorised into two; External risks and Internal risks. There are mainly five types of external risks. Demand risks, Supply risks, Environmental risks, Business risks and Physical plant risks. Internal risks are mostly associated to the manufacturing risks caused by the disruption of internal operations and processes. Planning and control risks, Mitigation and contingency risks and cultural risks are some of the internal factors. An organisation, which has an exit strategy built in alignment of all the risks associated to a particular supply chain, can only then plan an effective supply chain strategy efficiently. 

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