In today’s world, when consumers expect that the click of a mouse will result in a package arriving at their doorsteps the next day, the pressure on supply chains to run efficiently is rapidly increasing. Supply chains are much more than trucks, trains, and boats. Supply chain management has become a truly holistic business discipline, an end-to-end coordination process. It seeks to bring demand for goods and services into balance with supply, through companies cooperating and working together as a business ecosystem to serve a common customer base. It spans cradle-to-grave activities in manufacturing and services, from sourcing to production to distribution to the end customer, as well as any return flows from recalls.
The Smith School’s Supply Chain Management Center (SCMC) works to explore and understand the intersection of global supply chain management strategy and technology.
Created in 1996 by co-directors Sandor Boyson, research professor of logistics, business and public policy, and Thomas Corsi, Michelle E. Smith Professor of Logistics, the SCMC was the first academic center in the country devoted to extending the supply chain discipline through research, projects, and curriculum development. It is still the only resource of its kind in the national capital region.
The center’s path-breaking work includes directing the Defense Advanced Research Project Agency’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Netcentricity and designing and prototyping advanced supply chain portals for the Air Force and Army. The latter led to the center’s designation in 2001 as the Supply Chain Integration Center of the Office of the Secretary of Defense.
More recently, SCMC collaborated with SAIC to produce the Cyber-Supply Chain Assurance Reference Model, a first-of-its-kind cyber security tool. The model was highlighted as one of the most promising new concepts to control global information technology risks by the Department of Defense State of the Art Report on IT Risk Management.
“We made a diagnostic that the current state of cyber supply chains is at the point where physical product supply chains were over a decade ago, in terms of fragmentation and the lack of common management structure. There is limited coordination between IT supply chain players: software, hardware, network providers, and system integrators are not collaborating in an ongoing way to identify risks and gain visibility over end-to-end operations. This lack of visibility and strategic control is a major detriment in preserving cyber security,” Boyson says.
In recognition of its unique fusion of the supply chain management and cyber-security disciplines, SCMC was commissioned in fall 2010 by the National Institute of Standards and Technology to survey the industry and make recommendations to the federal government regarding policies for IT supply chain risk management.
A major theme of the center has been its effort to consolidate the insights of global practitioners and thought leaders into a new science of supply chain more appropriate to the current era of high volatility. “X-SCM: The New Science Of X-Treme Supply Chain Management,” co-authored by Boyson, Corsi and Lisa Harrington and sponsored by the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals and Sterling Commerce/AT&T, brings together the latest thinking about resilient network design, supply chain risk hedging, and financial optimization. The center developed a real-time experiential game as a teaching complement to the book.
The center is also working with senior government and business leaders to explore the implications of and responses to global supply chain management volatility. In fall 2010, SCMC hosted senior supply chain executives from the U.S. Department of Transportation, U.S. Department of Agriculture, National Defense University, Lockheed Martin, Defense Logistics Agency, National Institutes of Health, NASA, Logistics Management Institute, U.S. Air Force, U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, and McCormick & Co., in a roundtable discussion of supply chain issues common to military, government and industry players.
“With constant change, economic challenges, and the havoc that events such as Gulf oil spills, natural disasters, and terrorist threats can create, old models of balancing supply and demand are no longer effective,” Corsi says. “It is critical that industry and government leaders work together to address extreme business volatility issues in the global supply chain and we are happy we can provide the thought leadership to help guide some of those conversations.”
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