Supply Chain Complexity

Managing an Increasingly Complex Supply Chain

By Dave Kipe

More than ever, companies today face massive and increasingly complex challenges in effectively managing their global supply chains. As the world evolves, businesses must re-think and reinvent the way they conduct operations globally, while optimizing supply chain performance and managing risk. 

Complexity in the supply chain is not only expensive; it can have catastrophic operational and financial consequences on your company. It reduces agility, counters economies of scale, weakens profitability, lengthens lead times and inhibits growth.

Although many reasons exist why supply chains are more complex (and volatile) than ever; these are my top three:

  1. Customer Expectations
  2. Data Overload
  3. Globalization


Navigating the new normal with nationalism on the rise: what does it mean for CPO planning?

By Peter Cook

The chief procurement officer (CPO) role is changing from a back-office cost-out role to a source of profit improvement and a voice in company strategy, with those leading the way gaining first mover advantage. For organizations where the CPO does not already have a seat at the top company table, the domestic versus global debate may be the catalyst to put them there.

Irrespective of the economic realities, it seems that with the election of America’s 45thpresident and the populist votes in Europe – such as the vote in the U.K. for Brexit – nationalism is on the rise. Numerous commentators have suggested that soon, chief executives will have to demonstrate not only competitive increases in shareholder value but also how they have practiced “economic patriotism” – how they ran a profitable business while also serving national interests.


Companies must use all the tools available to reduce risk along complex distribution networks. 

By Kevin Hill

Every day brings a new report concerning a food product recall. Has the media simply become more receptive to food safety issues and has been addressing them with more scrutiny? The brief answer is that globalization has generated gaps in security in the food supply chain. As a result recalls are rising. However, food production, packaging, warehousing, shipping and supply chain technology has all evolved to seal these gaps.

It is not just the ingredients that are globalized; the processing equipment, chemicals for cleaning and even the packaging is globalized. Food supply and consumption across the globe is becoming more interconnected and, simultaneously, so is human and farm animal health.


Experience navigating the complex web of stakeholders has chief supply chain officers well positioned to move into CEO roles.

By Peter L. O’Brien

The role of the chief supply chain officer, or CSCO, seems to grow in complexity and strategic relevance over the years. Two decades ago, we could barely conceive of one individual overseeing the entire end-to-end supply chain. A study in 2004 showed that only 8 percent of Fortune 200 companies had a CSCO. Today, the percentage of organizations having someone responsible for overseeing a combination of end-to-end supply-chain functions has increased to 68 percent. Several prominent companies have even considered tapping leaders with specific global supply chain experience for the CEO role. These developments compelled Russell Reynolds Associates to look more closely at what traits make CSCOs different from other executives, what traits enable or hinder CSCOs looking to step into a CEO role and how the CSCO role is evolving more generally.

Counterfeit Drugs web photo 2

For the complex healthcare supply chain, aerospace grants wisdom.

By Tim Butler

Even as supply chain operations grow steadily more automated and secure in most industries, life sciences still fight an outlying challenge: counterfeit medication. The proliferation of counterfeit drugs has become a major impediment not just for the bottom line, but also to public health and international trade. Thousands of people worldwide die every year from ingesting fake drugs – and it costs the pharmaceutical industry between $70 billion and $200 billion per year in lost profits, by various estimates. What began as a supply chain issue is now a wide-scale brand protection issue.

The matter is of such great import, in fact, that a series of new laws under the Drug Supply Chain Security Act (DSCSA) has been put in place, ostensibly to legislate toward reduced instance of fake drugs. Trouble is, the mandate's structure could be producing an opposite effect. Investment in authentication technologies the real mover when it comes to spotting and removing counterfeits –has been put on the back burner in favor of implementing product serialization schemes ahead of a late-2017 deadline. Serialization is a trace solution, not necessarily a track solution, and it is a mistake to equate this process with full brand protection because it leaves the door open for non-verified drugs to enter the system.


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