Supply Chain Management

Essay by ChristinaVassiliou January 2007

download word file, 81 pages 4.8

1. Introduction

Over 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.