In 1996, Professors Boyson and Corsi created the Supply Chain Management Center within the Robert H. Smith School of Business. Its mission has been to explore and understand the leading-edge technologies and businesses practices required to transform traditional supply chains to real-time, netcentric ones. This vision requires new business models based on extended enterprise relationships with suppliers, carriers, distributors, and customers. It also involves new real-time supply chain architectures based on the Internet and virtual private networks. Supply chain portals provide the opportunity for connectivity across functional areas within an organization as well as between that organization and its extended enterprise partners. While connectivity and real-time data sharing are critical for building modern supply chains, the software applications driving supply chain planning and optimization are also an essential ingredient. The Supply Chain Management Center has set out to identify and evaluate the stack of applications that best meet the needs of individual companies as they transition to the new supply chain model.
The Supply Chain Management Center pioneered in the prototyping of supply chain management portals. In order to create this real-time, netcentric portal environment, the Supply Chain Management Center received outside funding from the State of Maryland as well as the Office of the Secretary, U.S. Department of Defense. This funding enabled the Supply chain Management Center to effectively demonstrate a customized, integrated architecture of supply chain applications for individual or aligned groups of businesses and organizations. The environment supported advanced planning and optimization systems, enterprise resource planning systems, logistics execution systems, and middleware. The corporate partners, instrumental in developing the e-supply chain lab, were Sun Microsystems, Avaya, Oracle, and SAP.
Having created a real-time portal environment to support a wide-range of supply chain applications, the Supply Chain Management Center next focused on integrating this environment into the undergraduate and graduate academic programs. The Robert H. Smith School of Business has long been recognized as having a leading academic program in this area at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The Supply Chain Management Center over the past years has integrated the real-time portal environment with its stack of supply chain applications into the set of courses offered at both the undergraduate and graduate levels. The integration of the applications into the coursework provides the students with hands-on experiences with the production level applications in the following functional areas: enterprise resource planning, network design and optimization, advanced planning and optimization, demand forecasting, inventory optimization, and warehouse management. All the courses integrate the hands-on experiences with business cases and theory.
A critical aspect of the hands-on approach has been the use of business simulations. In fact, the Supply Chain Management Center in collaboration with its partner, Delft University of Technology, built and designed the Global Supply Chain Management Game, a unique real-time business simulation of managing a global supply chain. The game is the first real-time simulation that pits players against each other in an online interactive environment. Players vie to increase profits and market share by creating the most efficient supply chain in a world where unexpected problems, their business decisions and the decisions of their competitors impact the game. The game has been used as a standard feature of both undergraduate and graduate supply chain courses. In addition, the Supply Chain Management Center in cooperation with Sun Microsystems, Inc. sponsored a world-wide competition involving a dozen University teams from the United States, Europe, and Asia. In addition to the Global Supply Chain Game, the supply chain courses at the Smith School regularly use supply chain simulations from SAP (the SAP ERP game), from Marketplace, Inc. (Supply Chain and Channel Management simulation game), and from Airline, Inc. (airline management simulation game).