Book review: Supply Chain, experience teaches

The Procurement Magazine has interviewed Prof. Antonio Rizzi and reviewed his just released book “Supply Chain: Fundamentals and Best Practices to Compete by Leveraging the Network”.

The book, outcome of Prof. Antonio Rizzi’s twenty-year teaching and consulting career, examines the supply chain from different perspectives and analyses its evolution over the past 20 years. “When I started teaching this subject, the processes were still largely paper-based. Then began an ever-increasing evolution up to the present day where some phases are now almost exclusively digital”, explains Prof. Rizzi in the interview, where he addresses and discusses topics such as the role of today’s supply chain managers, different industries’ approach to supply chain management, and supply chain resilience.

The demand of today’s Supply Chain Managers

Talking about the complex role of today’s supply chain managers, Prof. Rizzi stresses how they are expected to act very much like “a conductor or a coach of a football team, whose skills are determined not only by technique but also by the ability to orchestrate, direct and coordinate the various players so that, in the end, the team scores or the musicians play the same symphony in unison”.

In order to deal with complex, unpredictable and ever-changing situations, today’s supply chain managers must understand aspects of production management, logistics and procurement, but also be able to develop an overall vision, coordinate processes and mediate related inter-functional conflicts.

Different industries’ diverse approach to Supply Chain Management

Industries do not all have the same approach to supply chain management, there are many common points, but also many differences. FMCG, for example, has to deal with an easily predictable demand and often with a stable supply, unlike the fashion supply chain subject to a much more fluctuating demand and linked to aspects that are often unpredictable.

Prof. Rizzi explains how internet, new technologies and the development of omnichannel, are changing the purchasing methods impacting also on the physiognomy of the shop. “The store is becoming a place where customers can live an emotional experience through the product and the brand. Furthermore, the shop becomes a real distribution center, from which to carry out typical DC processes such as picking, packing, shipping.”

Supply Chain Resilience

Since the Covid-19 breakout, emphasis has been placed on the need for supply chain resilience, a topic, explains Prof. Rizzi in the interview, already known in the scientific literature for at least 15 years. Supply chain resilience, explains the professor, “consists in realizing that long chains, on which there is no visibility, work well in a stable situation but, in times of great uncertainty such as during the Covid-19 pandemic, put both supplies and lead times at risk. It is therefore necessary to rethink this model, shortening supply chains, finding B plans for procurement, production, and distribution processes, increasing visibility, and using the information available to react and intervene before events happen”.

It is in other words important to learn to identify the danger, map it and attribute a risk to it, which depends on the probability of occurrence, a magnitude and a “detectability” that is the degree of warning, to understand how to manage it.

Never before has supply chain management been so critical and relevant, for more insights read the full book interview in Italian by following this link

About the book “Supply Chain: Fundamentals and Best Practices to Compete by Leveraging the Network”

The book examines the supply chain from different perspectives: the physical structure which it is composed of (actors, roles, infrastructures and processes), the organizational structure of the people involved (business functions and related interactions and integrations), and the manifold flows that characterize it (product flows, information flows, service flows and monetary flows). For each of these dimensions, the text thoroughly illustrates how to design and manage it, aligning supply chain performance and competitive strategies through an integrated approach, which is key to generate competitive advantage. For more information follow this link.