The number one factor to impact, well anything, in 2020 was of course COVID-19. Supply chains were not spared. International trade ground to a halt with the volume of Global trade in May of last year down by 17.7% compared to the same month in 2019, economies crumbled and global GDP for 2020 contracted by an estimated 4.3% and Supply Chain Managers were throwing their demand forecasts out the window.
The global pandemic has both battered the supply chain industry and at the same time brought to the fore how vital it is. Discussions that revolved around lean management and the almighty JIT system have been replaced with finding ways to make supply chains more resilient to change and more agile so as to be able to adapt to unforeseen change more quickly.
Here is what the experts are predicting will trend in the supply chain management industry in 2021.
The rise of the machine
Robots don’t get sick (although they too are susceptible to viruses) they also have a number of other advantages over humans: they work faster, don’t need breaks, and make less mistakes. Amazon currently has over 200 000 autonomous mobile robots (AMRs) moving stock around their warehouses. Drones are beginning to be used to make light deliveries and driverless trucks are about to come rumbling over the horizon. Development of these technologies will continue to grow.
But automation isn’t only about robots. It can come in the form of software too. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software or Warehouse Management Systems (WMS) are helping more and more SMEs go paperless and improve their supply chains.
AI will continue to develop, and process more big data allowing Supply Chain Managers to develop more efficient systems, and make more accurate projections as well as respond to changes faster – saving time and money.
There will be more ways to track, manage and report on the exact status of inventory with technologies such as GPS and Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags. These developments in the Internet of Things (IoT) arena will feed data to AI systems so that they can develop process models which in turn will enable the robots to make more autonomous decisions.
Other digital developments that are being repackaged for use in Supply Chain management are Smart Contracts, which are transaction protocols that are meant to be executed when certain conditions are met automatically. Wider adoption of blockchain, with research suggesting it can save the food and beverage industry $31 billion by 2024 alone.
Cloud-based technology will enable users to work from anywhere and will be especially beneficial to smaller organisations that cannot afford to invest in costly and extensive infrastructure.
What about the humans?
The humans will be at home, not because they have been replaced by robots but rather because the COVID-19 pandemic resulted in many countries including South Africa enforcing strict lockdown periods. Many companies were forced to find ways to allow their employees to work from home and it is anticipated that this trend will continue. There are many advantages to working from home such as better work-life balance, increased productivity/better focus, less stress and avoiding the commute, to name a few. The lockdowns meant companies had to invest in infrastructures that could support remote working. There are of course also advantages for the organisations as they no longer have to facilitate a large staff contingency, and research has shown that contrary to initial fears, productivity as a whole increases when people work from home.
SCM Dojo also predicts there will be more focus on employee development across the following 3 dimensions:
Technical Supply Chain Competencies (also includes Materials Management & Logistics)
Digital Supply Chain Knowledge, and
The Age of Ecommerce is Upon Us
The combination of people being locked down and working from home resulted in an astounding jump in online retail purchases. Even helping to make Jeff Bezos the world’s first man with a net value of over $200 Billion. To put it another way ecommerce experienced 10 years of growth in just 3 months.
And this is not expected to slow down. In fact, a global growth rate of 8.1% is expected between 2020 and 2024 with Turkey in the lead with a 20.2% forecast.
B2B online transactions will also grow and are expected to reach $1.8 trillion by 2023.
Consumers will also increasingly turn to their social media platforms for retail therapy with recent developments such as Facebook’s and Instagram’s Shops.
Disaster-proof supply chains.
Remember at the beginning of last year when suddenly toilet paper became a rare commodity, or when SAB had to dump millions of litres of beer because of lockdown?
These are two classic examples of the unexpected impact that COVID-19 had on supply chains. Supply chains are now being re-engineered to be more agile and able to respond to unforeseen circumstances more quickly.
Organisations are using AI and machine learning to develop models that can be used to predict future events and prepare for it.
Organisations are looking to supplier diversification to bolster their supply chain. What this means is they are hedging their bets between international and local suppliers to get the best balance of price, production capacity, shipping costs, lead times and quality so that if one channel closes down they can increase demand on the other.
2021 will mostly be about recovering from the whirlwind that was 2020. It’s time to take stock and build better, more robust, agile and diverse supply chains. We will do it using robots, powered by AI and informed by IoT while we work from home on cloud-based systems and keep the wheels of commerce turning with our online purchases. Necessity has forced us to find new and innovative ways to overcome the roadblocks the pandemic has put in front of us and now we are set to leverage these solutions as the trends in SCM in 2021. The future remains a mystery but two things we know for sure: The world will never be the same and whatever the future holds, Supply Chain Management will, as always, be at the centre of it all.
Are you interested in a career in Supply Chain Management? The IMM has a number of Supply Chain Management academic programmes and short courses to suite your requirements and your pocket. Visit our website for more details or call us on 0861 466 476 to speak to one of our consultants.
IMM Launches Brand New Supply Chain Management Qualifications
Never before has the active integration and coordination of superior supply chain activities, that provide the best value for customers, been as important as it is right now. As an unprecedented 2020 draws to a close, with an uncertain future for businesses across the globe, it has become abundantly clear that competent and proficient Supply Chain Management (SCM) is a major catalyst when it comes to sustainable economic growth.
With this in mind, the IMM Graduate School has added two brand new, cutting-edge SCM qualifications to their offering. What makes these new programmes significant is that they are accredited by the internationally recognised Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT); a first for any SCM qualification in South Africa. This offers valuable professional recognition worldwide.
The Higher Certificate in Supply Chain Management is an introductory course (NQF 5) which provides students with a holistic understanding of both supply chain and business management. Along with the CILT accreditation, the Higher Certificate is also accredited and registered with the DHET/CHE/SAQA.
The BCom Honours in Supply Chain Management is the most up-to-date SCM qualification in the world, with modules that cover many never before inclusions, namely;
A brand new, uniquely tailored SCM Management Synchronisation and Orchestration model.
Additional SLC’s in terms of SCM services not found in traditional textbooks.
An entire chapter devoted to Supply Chain Analytics, including all the formulae pertaining thereto.
A customer-centric downstream approach, as opposed to upstream supply partners.
Artificial intelligence, digitalisation and blockchain technology which is collectively covered for the first time in any SCM qualification.
The BCom Honours also includes the design of brand new responsive organisational structures hinging on the fact that so many companies are now working remotely due to Covid-19, an integral part of a future-focused approach to SCM, that is really only coming to light as businesses start to react to new ways of managing their structures. Also new to this particular qualification is an entire Ethics and Risk Management module, again stemming from a new approach to Covid-19 business practices, that no textbook in the world has yet included.
Registration for both programmes is now open, so for more information or to register please visit imm.ac.za.
Our Higher Certificate in Supply Chain Management is an IMM Qualification on NQF level 5 and is quality assured by the Council on Higher Education (CHE). You have 12 months to complete the qualification although should you require it for whatever reason you may complete the qualification within 4 years.
Supply chain management is the management of the flow of materials, goods and services and includes the transformation process, which converts inputs such as materials and components into final products and services.
Logistics, which is an integral part of supply chain management, lies at the centre of almost every consumer requirement worldwide. In South Africa it is a scarce skill – the country is in drastic need of skilled talent in this field, with a shortage of somewhat 130 000 logistics managers recorded. One global study estimates that demand for supply chain professionals exceeds supply by six to one.
Once qualified you will have learnt the fundamental skills required to engage in the processes and inter relationships across the supply chain so as to create sustainable value for organisations. The Higher Certificate also provides you with a ‘foot in the door’ in a variety of industries that is desperate for these skills.
After completion of your Higher Certificate, you can continue your learning with IMM Graduate School and apply to do our BCom in International Supply Chain Management and then follow on with our BCom Honours in Supply Chain Management. Your learning path with IMM Graduate School is clearly laid out and will open many career opportunities for you.
There are seven learning outcomes in this programme
Demonstrate an elementary understanding of literacy with respect to academic writing, technology, numeracy and communications.
Display an elementary but broad scope of knowledge in the field of Supply Chain and be able to link supply chain activities to the functioning of organisations.
Associate and describe within a business context the systems within which organisations operate and be able to link these to supply chain opportunities.
Explain the typical elementary methods and procedures involved in supply chain.
Explain the theories typically applied in the field of business management.
Solve elementary supply chain and business problems in organisations.
Access, process and apply elementary business information, considering ethical behaviour.
IMM Graduate School’s Higher Certificate in Supply Chain Management is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), the global body of international professionals for everyone who works within supply chain, logistics and transport.
The Higher Certificate in Supply Chain Management consists of seven modules:
Fundamentals of Supply Chain Management (20 credits)
Academic Literacy (15 credits)
* Fundamentals of International Trade (20 credits)
* Fundamentals of Transport and Logistics (20 credits)
* Fundamentals of Operations Management (20 credits)
Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) Honours in Supply Chain Management
SAQA ID: 117085
Our Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) Honours in Supply Chain Management is an IMM Graduate School qualification on NQF level 8 and is quality assured by the Council on Higher Education (CHE) South Africa. The minimum time to complete this postgraduate qualification is a year and the maximum time is 4 years.
Supply chain managers are responsible for managing relationships with suppliers, manufacturers, distributors and the final consumer. In this role you will be involved in the production of the product, managing inventory and ensuring that the final product reaches the right customer at the right time. The key purpose of your role is to see that the needs of your business and customers are met.
With the supply chain arena struggling from a lack of suitable and available talent for management positions, companies worldwide are stepping up efforts to recruit qualified and skilled professionals for these roles. According to a survey by Deloitte Consulting, among executives of multinational companies, 71% reported difficulty finding senior leadership for their supply chains.
This qualification will empower you with the competencies (knowledge, insight, skills, values and attitudes) necessary to positively contribute to the management of a modern integrated supply chain. Once you have acquired these skills, there is a good chance that you will be snapped up or promoted into a management role.
After completion of your BCom Honours in Supply Chain Management, you will be equipped with the necessary knowledge and skills to manage and assertively approach a plethora of unorthodox situations in each of the core supply chain areas.
Evaluate advanced supply chain management integration strategies across organisations and companies.
Demonstrate an understanding of complex strategies and their application in supply chain management.
Demonstrate the use of a wide range of specialised skills to solve complex supply chain problems.
Conduct research with the aim of solving supply chain problems.
Demonstrate an understanding of the general principles of managing processes of purchase and supply, and the necessary information technology that underlie this, and to apply these principles.
Analyse the wider supply chain environment and identify the prevalence of risks.
IMM Graduate School’s BCom Honours in Supply Chain Management is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), the global body of international professionals for everyone who works within supply chain, logistics and transport.
The BCom Honours in Supply Chain Management comprises of five compulsory modules and one elective module and is structured as follows:
Advanced Cost Management (20 credits)
Advanced Research: Theory (20 credits)
* Advanced Supply Chain Business Processes (20 credits)
The recent outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of Supply Chain Management (SCM), as a sudden increase in demand for certain products and a complete standstill in demand for others has left many suppliers reeling. However the man in the street can still find it difficult to distinguishing the features that contrast a value chain, a supply chain and finally supply chain management (SCM).. Although there is a strong relation amongst these three activities, there are key differences that make them stand apart from one another.
Essentially, a value chain is a set of activities that a firm performs in order to deliver need-satisfying products or services to a defined market or markets. It is also known as a high-level model of how businesses receive inputs and then processes such inputs via the conversion process (operations) into finished goods and services. This is achieved by adding value to the inputs in such a way that the morphed final offerings will hopefully satiate varying customer needs, better than the competitor. The ultimate objectives of the value chain are the appeasement of both customer needs and wants (in the form of superior goods and services), and, as importantly, revenue and profits for the enterprise.
Created by Michael Porter in 1985, the value chain consists of primary and support activities. Primary activities include inbound logistics, operations, outbound logistics, marketing and sales, and service. The key goal of these activities is to create value that exceeds the cost of performing the activity, thereby generating higher organisational sales and profits. Support activities on the other hand comprise procurement, human resources, finance, technology development, and the firm’s infrastructure. These ancillary activities within Porter’s Value Chain, assist the primary activities by forming the foundation of the organization on which the primary activities operate. A support activity such as financial management for example is of great importance for primary activities as without finance, these activities cannot be performed. Likewise, without effective Human Resources Management, the organisation will not have the requisite human capital to produce the required goods and services, market them and finally distribute them to…
The right organisation.
At the right time they are need.
To the right person who will be using the goods; and
At the right price so that their delivery to the targeted end-customer via fellow supply partners will enjoy the value that the offering has been designed to deliver.
The strength that underpins Porter’s Value Chain Analysis is its approach, as it focuses on the customers as the central theme of the business rather than on departments or people. Being a system approach to operating a business, the system links other systems, people, departments and activities to one another and demonstrates how the approach impacts on value creation, costs and profits. Consequently, the analysis makes a clear picture of where the sources of value and loss of revenue can be found in the organisation.
The supply chain is the network of individuals, firms, technology and resources that are involved in the creation and distribution of offerings from the source of the inputs (raw materials, components and so on) via the distribution network to the final consumer. The main challenges of the supply chain, or better still the supply network, are the ever-changing needs of the consumer, its complexity (especially international supply chains), supply risk and as importantly supplier risk. The recent outbreak of the Covid 19 pandemic has underscored the importance of a smooth-running and seamless supply network as without it operating effective and efficiently, more people would have been struck down by the virus. This would have undoubtedly increased the morbidity and mortality rate throughout the world as well as the negative impact the outbreak has had on the global economy.
Supply chain management (SCM) is about creating value. Early efforts at managing supply chains often focused on cost reduction in order to make the chain leaner. Unfortunately, these efforts sometimes reduced the ability to create value thereby negating the key purpose of the supply chain. In essence, there is more to creating value through effective SCM than simply wrestling costs out of supply chain’s primary or support activities. Being an agile supply chain in a modern context, is probably more important than wrangling lower costs as it translates into quicker market entry and better customer service.
There should be value-creating activities that reinforce supply-partner and customer centrism. Because there can be many supply partners in the equation, managing supply chains requires a balancing act among competing and oftentimes self-serving interests. To illustrate this, note the following example. The seller of raw materials (supply chain inputs) would naturally like to enjoy the highest possible price he can muster from the manufacturer in order to maximise profits. The manufacturer on the other hand might probably demand to procure the goods at the lowest possible cost in order to be competitive in the marketplace after he has incurred the time and cost to produce the goods. It is these conflicting requirements that require supply partners to be flexible so that these opposing needs may be realize.
The above is underpinned by the advent of the recent Covid 19 virus and how the interest of supply partners can differ, even in a life-threatening emergency such as the pandemic. In the USA, where the outbreak has reached mammoth proportion, Federal and local governments competed for life-saving Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) hoping to procure such goods at the lowest possible prices. However, because of supply and demand issues, and pure unadulterated opportunism, sellers put up the prices of their PPE goods to exorbitant levels in order to maximise profits at the expense of the people who were ill and dying in hospitals and old age homes. The sad reality is that there was no cohesion and coordination on a macro scale regarding to the procurement and delivery of such essential equipment, apparel and medication. Instead of Federal Government (central government) acting as the catalyst for the acquisition of such goods and services, it competed against states and hospitals, thereby increasing the cost and delaying the delivery of the imported life-saving offerings from Europe and the East.
SCM can be defined as the design, planning, execution, control, and monitoring of supply chain management systems, with the objective of generating value by synchronizing supply with demand and measuring performance on an international basis. Where once it was considered to be a philosophy, in today’s terms it has become an essential business activity that is designed to ensure the delivery of superior value-add services so that all the players in the chain may benefit there from.
The supply chain, not only links organizations e.g. suppliers, producers, and customers. It produces upstream and downstream flows, which move products, information and payment (cash) out of and into organisations.
The value chain however integrates a variety of supply chain activities throughout the product/service life cycle; from the marketing function determining customer needs and wants, operations converting inputs into goods and services and finally to outbound logistics, which consists of order processing, warehousing and distribution. The main intent of a value chain is to increase the value of a product or service as it passes through stages of development and distribution before reaching the end user. So, through effective supply chain mapping and streaming, organisations in the supply network can accurately direct their mutual efforts at providing value-add services to the next-in-line customer. The above hopefully illustrates the relationship of the three critical business activities, their relevance and as importantly how they provide value to all the members of the network, including the end consumer.
Coronavirus has shown how fragile our cost-driven, just-in-time processes really are. With practitioners adapting to survive while planning more resilient systems for the future, will procurement ever be the same?
When the first container ship arriving from China at the port of Vancouver was cancelled in January this year, it didn’t seem particularly significant. By mid-March, when China’s struggle with Covid-19, aka coronavirus, had become so all-consuming that 30 more journeys had been cancelled, Vancouver’s port officials were facing a crisis of historic magnitude.
That consumer goods weren’t being unloaded from China as per the schedule was less of a concern than the fact that Canada, which usually filled those containers with lentils and peas, had two months’ worth of crops stuck in port (historically, roughly a third of Canada’s crops have been exported in containers). Imports were also disrupted: one local food company had to pay a premium for spices from Thailand which arrived a month behind schedule. Brazil’s coffee makers suffered too as the missing containers made it hard for them to ship their products to China.
The problems of countries and companies along just one shipping route indicate why some economists, notably Simon MacAdam at consultancy Capital Economics, are predicting a 20% dip in trade volumes this year. That is significantly worse than the last recession in 2009, when volumes fell by 13%.
The bottlenecks in Vancouver did not grab headlines in the same way as various countries’ difficulties in speeding up production of ventilator kits. But as Professor Tim Benton, research director of the Chatham House think tank’s energy, environment and resources programme, says, they remind us: “We have created a global supply chain that, for all its financial efficiencies, has very little resilience.”
Coffee is a case in point. One industry estimate, cited by The Economist, suggests that 29 companies across 18 countries need to collaborate to make “one humble cup”. That may, Benton observes, work financially for the companies concerned – and for consumers who can buy their favourite brand at a lower cost – but it cannot, in any true sense of the word, be described as efficient. A hurricane, strike or outbreak of coronavirus at any of those 29 companies could severely disrupt the supply chain, and the spread of the virus into Latin America has already led to huge spikes in commodity prices as buyers anticipate lockdowns and shuttered businesses. And that’s without the kind of surge in consumer demand that led to a rise of more than 20% in British supermarket sales during March 2020.
All those photographs of empty shelves, explicitly condemning shoppers for panic buying and hoarding, obscure the fact, Benton says, that governments are hoarding too. “Kazakhstan banned exports of wheat flour, Thailand has stopped exporting eggs, Vietnam has suspended rice exports and Russia is talking about limiting grain exports to protect supplies,” he says. “It’s not clear how many more governments will follow suit, but if they keep putting their nation first, the situation can only get worse.” Protectionist policies, coupled with panic buying, could create a self-perpetuating cycle of rising food prices.
What many analysts referred to as the “hidden costs of globalisation” were becoming visible even before the pandemic struck. “There was a clear sense that we had reached peak globalisation,” says Andrew Missingham, the co-founder of creative management consultancy B+A. “The political shocks of 2016, protectionist trade policies and climate change were already asking fundamental questions about that model.” Some of the foundations which businesses took for granted no longer exist in a pandemic age. “If you look at a business like ours, for example, it was predicated on three factors – the internet, cheap flights and free movement of people – and two of those no longer apply,” says Missingham.
Since the last global economic crisis in 2007-2008, many parts of the procurement profession have performed Herculean labours, protecting profits, companies and jobs by cutting billions of dollars in cost from the world’s supply chains. They did that, primarily, by seeking out places where they could make things at the lowest cost – often in China – and minimising inventory by applying lean manufacturing or ‘just-in-time’ principles.
The result is a global supply chain that is interconnected, intricate and sometimes unfathomable. As Duncan Brock, group director, CIPS, says: “The interwoven nature of modern supply chains means it is almost impossible to say for certain just how reliant we are on China for manufacturing and assembly.” Companies that placed such trust in Chinese suppliers that they used single-sourcing now face severe disruption.
Diverse sourcing strategies
“One key lesson from the pandemic is the importance of spreading the risk,” says Tim Lawrence, supply chain expert at PA Consulting. “Companies should avoid clustering suppliers in one region and around similar supply chains, reconsider whether it makes sense to create isolated supply chains and understand the location risks in every tier of the supply chain. Your supply chain may not be as diverse as you like to think – for example, your alternative suppliers may themselves be reliant on tier 3 or tier 4 suppliers in the same region.”
The obvious, if laborious, way to avoid such problems is to map your supply chain. “It isn’t easy,” admits Lawrence.
“It took Airbus five years to do it with the A320 passenger aircraft. And supply chains change so fast that the map might be out of date on the day you complete it, but digital technologies – especially 5G, data analytics and artificial intelligence – are proving increasingly helpful. They can improve visibility and connectivity, generate early warnings, and help free up supply chain leaders to focus on the strategic issues.”
Strategic questions would include assessing when it makes sense to keep the supply chain within the business. “There are certain components that are so critical to the business that the most secure supply chain might be to vertically integrate them,” says Lawrence.
As global supply chains hit bottlenecks many neither envisaged or expected, Missingham predicts: “We will see a lot more decentralisation, regionalisation and localisation.” Some pundits have talked of a ‘great reset’, where reshoring becomes the new norm. In an increasingly automated workplace, labour costs are no longer as critical when locating factories. Last year, multinational toolmaker Stanley Black & Decker shifted production of its Craftsman tools from China to Fort Worth, Texas, without increasing costs.
Brock expects new sourcing strategies to emerge but warns that any ‘reset’ will take time: “This may be the last straw for global sourcing as supply chain managers look local but, to put this in context, 290 of Apple’s 800 suppliers are based in China so such a strategy would take years to implement.”
Diversifying a supplier base is not always straightforward. Companies may be required, Brock says, to form alliances within their sector to develop new sources of supply where choice is limited or existing suppliers are clustered in the same region. Unilever has opted to protect the suppliers it already has, announcing a £420m cashflow relief scheme to expedite payments to SMEs in its network and offering credit to small retailers.
Learning just in time
Just-in-time manufacturing – reducing inventories to 15-30 days of stock or even less – has been a multi-billion-dollar boon for the global economy. Lawrence does not foresee a wholesale rejection of just-in-time or lean, but a reappraisal based on a more realistic assessment of the potential cost to the business: “There will be certain components and materials where you decide that it is more efficient, in the broad sense, to have six to eight weeks’ stock than three or four.”
Popularised by Robert Hall in his 1987 book Zero Inventories, the just-in-time philosophy always sat uncomfortably alongside procurement’s cautious ‘just in case’ approach to buying inventory. Dazzled by the savings, many companies ignored the fact just-in-time made it much harder for procurement to understand how extensive, responsive and opaque supply chains really were. This truth came home in February when a South Carolina hospital ran out of surgical gowns. Its traditional supplier in China had contamination concerns over its stock – not related to coronavirus – but when managers tried to buy replacements, with the pandemic escalating, they struggled.
But in the middle of a crisis this severe, there is also a temptation to overestimate how profoundly our behaviour as individuals, companies and organisations will change. The 2007-2008 depression signalled, as so many people forecast at the time, the end of the road for a certain type of free market capitalism. It seemed a reasonable proposition at the time but it didn’t work out that way. The idea of getting back to ‘business as usual’ can induce a certain complacency.
In this crisis, many managers – not just in procurement – will argue that nobody could have seen this coming. That is true, up to a point. Nobody could have predicted how quickly and radically Covid-19 would change the way we live and work. Yet, for those companies which were paying attention, the signs were there to be interpreted.
The US grocery chain H-E-B began monitoring what was happening in China in the second week of January. After two weeks of analysing various sourcing reports and maintaining close, constant contact with companies in China, the retailer redrafted the disaster plans it had used for the swine flu outbreak in 2009 and Hurricane Harvey in 2017 to confront coronavirus.
As Craig Boyan, H-E-B’s president, told Texas Monthly: “Chinese retailers sent some pretty thorough information about the early days of the outbreak, how that affected grocery retail, how employees were addressing sanitisation and social distancing, how quarantine affected the supply chain, how shopping behaviour changed and what steps they wished they’d taken to get ahead earlier in the cycle.”
Using that information, H-E-B promptly took various steps: forming a remote working committee to coordinate policy and actions, reducing opening hours to give more time to put product on shelves, rationing certain product purchases and paying local beer distributors to bring eggs to its stores. Even so, Boyan admits, they did not resolve every challenge: “We’re still struggling to get eggs and we still have a hard time understanding why toilet rolls were the first things to go out of stock.”
Planning to fail
If the coronavirus is a black swan event, there is an obvious temptation to plan on the basis that it will never happen again – or at least not in our working lives. The call of the next quarter’s targets can often sound more compelling, but Lawrence says supply chain leaders need to change their mindset. “It is easy to focus on the small things that happen often, or may come up in the next three to six months, and plan scenarios for those, but to be honest you could delegate that task to the technology. As this pandemic shows, it would pay companies to look at the really big things that don’t happen very often and run scenarios for those.”
Understanding risk is partly about what supply chain leaders know but also, Missingham says, about what they do with what they know: “People working in supply chains are, in my experience, real experts in the people, challenges and opportunities they face – be that individual components or particular raw materials. The problem is that that knowledge is too narrowly held within organisations. In future, one of the important jobs for supply chain specialists will be to educate a broader part of the business.”
Covid-19 has shed an unforgiving light on every flaw in the world’s supply chain. The pandemic has shut factories, stalled shipments, fuelled labour shortages, closed borders and will, the United Nations estimates, cost the global economy at least $1trn. “In times of crisis and uncertainty, it is hard for businesses to plan but supply chain managers who act now and keep a close eye on such data as the purchasing managers indices as they make plans can mitigate the damage,” says Brock.
Yet in future, when supply chain leaders have the breathing space to think, let alone plan, for the long term, they might conclude that prevention is the best form of mitigation. Companies which neglect the opportunity to fundamentally rethink their supply chains do so at their own peril.
That is especially true, Benton argues, when it comes to defining a more sustainable, healthy and environmentally friendly food production system.
As he says: “The question is not ‘will it happen?’ The question is ‘when will it happen?’ We could have started to create a sustainable, equitable and nutritious food system in 2003, after the outbreak of SARS. It could happen now or it could happen in 10 years’ time when the next crisis occurs, but for the sake of our health, and the health of our planet, it cannot not happen.” What goes for the food industry, you suspect, goes for the other sectors of the global economy.
The COVID-19 virus has brought humanity, as we have come to know it, to its knees. Where kindness, sharing and caring once prevailed, now self-preservation reigns in shopping malls throughout the world as the “have’s” stockpile their larders with vitals at the expense of the poor, the needy, the aged and the sick. Shopping trolleys are filled to the brim not because there is a dire and urgent need to satisfy physiological needs but rather the wanton greed to plunder shopping shelves without giving any consideration for the shoppers in the queues behind them. Imagine if the world did not have an effective and efficiently run supply chain to constantly channel food, fuel and other essentials to replace those that have been exhausted because of the “feeding frenzy” of the uncaring and those who have sufficient funds to purchase what and when they like and the transport to procure such offerings. There would be further chaos, indescribable misery, an uncontrolled mortality rate and above all a world economic recession that would surpass the 1929 financial crash!
Historically, Supply Chain Management (SCM) has been likened to a philosophy… a concept rather than an essential service. As a relatively new mindset, it incorporates thirteen logistics activities and business processes to ensure cohesion amongst supply chain members and a continued flow of products, information and money. Wars have been won and lost by the implementation and control of either effective and efficient Supply Chain Management or the lack of using it to its full potential as was experienced during the Napoleonic Wars and WW2. There is little doubt that the world post-COVID-19 virus will be decidedly different to life as we have come to know prior to this adverse scourge befalling us. Therefore SCM will not be considered merely a concept but rather a life-saving essential service that will be used for the cohesion of all supply chains so that they may work in concert with one another in order to satiate the needs and wants of people and businesses at all times, including times of crises.
Besides the challenges brought upon us by the current pandemic, what other challenges are looming in the years ahead? Some of the key issues (certainly not all) are:
Technology (automation, robotics and the 4th Industrial Revolution). According to Klaus Schwab, the Founder and Executive Chairman of the World Economic Forum (2017), the 4th Industrial Revolution is characterized by “… new technology fusing the physical, digital and biological worlds, thereby impacting on all disciplines”. With the ease of new entrants into the market and capturing it (it took Facebook 6 years to generate $1billion and Google 5 years), new entrants will generate more products, which will need to be warehoused, transported and distributed. This will add an immense amount of pressure on existing global and national supply chains, thereby necessitating a SCM revolution that will be able to cope with such metamorphosis;
Pressure on the reduction of costs and the increased desire for quality. Herein lies the greatest paradox of all as consumers and business customers demand low prices for products and services, yet insist on increased quality. With the ever-escalating price of fuel, vehicles and running costs, supply chain members are going to have to seek ways to maintain and if possible, decrease their cost. This could be achieved by vertical integration, horizontal integration (by buying competitors to enjoy economies of scale) and the use of fuel-efficient and sustainable vehicles and even self-propelled trucks (already being used) to reduce labour and associated costs;
Globalisation and the effective and efficient management of the elongated and complex supply network. Lengthy supply chains are fraught with risk and uncertainty, especially in this turbulent and uncertain world we all currently reside in. Here risk management is going to play an important role in identifying and mitigating risks (supplier risks, supply risks and interest rate risks etc.) so that global business may operate under an umbrella of relative certainty;
Shorter lead time as a result of consumer demand and rapid changes in consumer behaviour. There is no doubt that we live in a world for the need of instant gratification. What we see today is what we buy today, especially as a result of consumers having access to virtually unlimited credit. We therefore buy what we want even though we cannot afford it. The rapid changes that are taking place in consumer behaviour as a result of AI’s impact on the generic consumer behaviour process (desire for products and services are created and not identified as per the process) are also fueling the need for a more agile, responsive, sustainable, customer-centric and cost-efficient supply chains. Where once agility was sufficient to satisfy needs, how much quicker must organisations produce and distribute goods so that they may arrive at the Right place, to the Right person, in the Right condition, at the Right time and at the Right price?
Effective inventory and throughput management in a global context. With a world exploding with over-population and the need for finished goods and services, the question is how much inventory should an organisation carry? It is a well-known fact that carrying too much inventory incurs additional carrying costs whilst carrying an insufficient quantity increases the likelihood of retail outages and escalated order costs. With most forecasting being historically inaccurate, how can organisations prophesize future demand so that capacity can be managed to meet such demand? Some pundits see the solution to be JIT production and distribution whilst other see the answer to be further collaboration and integration, increased information sharing and joint demand forecasting amongst all players in the supply chain. Whatever the solution may be, throughput management needs to be “managed” so that the Rights that are reflected above may be realised otherwise customers will migrate to competitors that can offer quicker response times and miniscule outages; and
Build ‘robustness’. A robust supply chain is one that can withstand ‘shocks’, such as the current disruption caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. In their search for continuous improvement and reduction of costs, what the acclaimed writer Margaret Heffernan calls ‘the myth of infinite efficiency’, supply chains that have adopted Lean or JIT methodologies now find they lack robustness. They have no ‘extra’, there is no slack that can be used to mitigate the effects of the unexpected. This essential characteristic has been driven out by the persistent downward pressure on costs. These businesses operate on razor-thin margins (of time, of money, and of resources generally) and their supply chains are not robust – they are very exposed to disruption. Supply chains need to build robustness by balancing cost-efficiency with flexibility and resilience. They need to develop stronger relationships with other chain members instead of focusing on extracting the lowest prices from them. The future is becoming more difficult to predict and forecasting less effective. Disruptions and unforeseen events are inevitable. Supply chains have become longer and more complex. Unless they gain robustness, these supply chains will not be ‘fit’ enough to mitigate the risk of crippling disruptions.
The industries that are most at risk are:
The transport industry as it will be faced with ensuring that the above Rs are implemented and controlled. As a result of AI, it is estimated that by 2025 thousands of motorcars and trucks will be driverless. The negatives from a trucking perspective includes job losses, less ownership and the possibility of hacking and cyber-attacks. In the summer of 2015 (the year Tesla was launched), two hackers demonstrated their ability to hack a moving car; controlling its dashboard functions, steering, brakes etc. all via the vehicle’s entertainment system (Schwab, 2017). It is believed that all modes of transport (especially road) will be faced with shorter lead times, which will certainly burden transportation and the rest of the logistics functions;
Manufacturing as it depends on raw materials, components and spare parts to produce goods and services via the transformation process. As markets expand exponentially and as 3D printing becomes more of a reality than a rarity, product design and production could be performed at a consumer’s home. Eventually it could even become an office or even a home appliance. If this is the case then the demand for logistics services such as transportation, warehousing and demand management could even decrease in line with the reduction in production; and
The services industry. It is estimated that 85% of all jobs in the USA are service oriented. As there is such a wide spectrum of service providers ranging from hotels, hairdressers, hospitals etc., the growth of services and service providers will increase exponentially with an associated decline in manufacturing (as a result of 3D, robotics, and outsourcing etc.), This will put a burden on the supply chain as it will have to keep up with such growth in the service industry.
Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) in International Supply Chain Management
Bachelor of Commerce (BCom) in International Supply Chain Management
SAQA ID: 110628
In today’s ever-changing world, built on technology, e-commerce and global trade, supply chain management is increasingly becoming a pivotal personal competence, and a key competitive advantage for many businesses. This trend is manifesting in a worldwide shortage of supply chain management (SCM) skills and, in particular, a critical skills shortage in Sub-Saharan Africa. Hence the need for comprehensive and relevant SCM education and training.
Where marketing determines what offerings customers want and need, SCM ensures that the inputs that are needed to produce these offerings are available to the organisation when they are needed to be converted into finished goods and services. Thereafter, SCM plays a critical role in getting the product or service to the end-user.
The Bachelor of Commerce in International Supply Chain Management is comprised of a number of modules all of which have been deliberately synergised to provide students with a world-class SCM and business qualification.
Consisting of three independent streams (Transport and Logistics, Procurement and Public Procurement), the degree has been designed to provide students with a content-rich and application-oriented learning experience with the emphasis on employability and tangible value-add to companies. The best-in-class content has been benchmarked and validated by subject matter experts across various sectors and disciplines for use in this programme.
This three-year degree covers a variety of both business and supply chain related subjects. The content is structured to introduce foundational theory and to also focus on practical implementation through a variety of projects using topical local and international case studies. The degree includes a module offered in partnership with a leading global ERP company, to prepare students for the practical realities of a supply chain role. This project-based module provides students with an additional external certification that will differentiate IMM graduates from other students.
Completion of the qualification will position graduates for management roles within the areas of inventory and materials management, procurement, logistics, and supply chain management.
IMM Graduate School’s BCom in International Supply Chain Management is accredited by the Chartered Institute of Logistics and Transport (CILT), the global body of international professionals for everyone who works within supply chain, logistics and transport.
Programme Exit Level Outcomes
Demonstrate an integrated understanding of a broad scope of management knowledge and how it practically applies to the disciplines of marketing, sales management, supply chain and project management.
Demonstrate a comprehensive understanding of the knowledge regarding economics, financial management, research as applied to marketing, sales, supply chain and project management activities in relation to the organisation and the business environment in general.
Collect, analyse, organise and critically evaluate relevant economic, financial, marketing and project related information to make sound decisions in the organisation.
To demonstrate ability to identify, analyse, evaluate, and critically reflect on complex problems related to sales, marketing, operations and supply chain in the organisation with the aim of finding evidence-based solutions.
Evaluate, apply, and integrate sales, marketing, supply chain and project management knowledge and skills and general business principles to real life situations taking into account societal, ethical, and cultural considerations.
Access, process and manage information, demonstrating the ability to develop appropriate processes of information gathering for a given context or use, also independently validating the sources of information and evaluating and managing the information.
Use appropriate academic/ professional/occupational discourse to produce and communicate information in a business environment, demonstrating their understanding and own ideas and opinions on business science, marketing sales, project management and supply chain related matters. Students must do so whilst respecting conventions around intellectual property, copyright and plagiarism.
Critically analyse contemporary business information and evaluate the potential future outcomes of sales, marketing, supply chain and project management decisions.
Students must show an understanding of the scope of responsibilities required of a management position in the sales, marketing, supply chain, human resources operations, project management functions, and understand the accountability to senior management in an organisation.
Mode of delivery
The IMM Graduate School offers its qualifications primarily in an online format, augmented by a variety of additional content. The core material is available in a compelling digital presentation, complete with pacers, self-assessment opportunities, links to further material, articles of interest, and more. This digital portal also serves as the primary point of contact and communication on academic and administrative matters with a dedicated team to respond to student queries.
The content delivery is supported by regular etutorials recorded and posted on the portal. Group forums facilitate further student to lecturer interaction.
The BCom in International Supply Chain Management is offered at level 7 of the NQF (HEQSF aligned) and consists of 360 credits. The BCom in International Supply Chain Management comprises 19 compulsory modules and is structured as follows:
Modules Year 1
Supply Chain Management 1 (20 credits)
Academic Skills Development (non-credit bearing)
Sales and Key Account Management (20 credits)
Financial Management 1 (20 credits)
Business Management & Administration 1 (20 credits)
Economic Principles (20 credits)
Transport & Logistics 1 (20 credits) or
Procurement 1 (20 credits) or
Public Procurement 1 (20 credits)
Modules Year 2
Project Management (20 credits)
Financial Management 2 (20 credits)
Supply Chain Management 2 (20 credits)
Business Management & Administration 2 (20 credits)
Risk Management (20 credits)
Transport & Logistics 2 (20 credits) or
Procurement 2 (20 credits) or
Public Procurement 2 (20 credits)
Modules Year 3
International Supply Chain Management (20 credits)
International Economics (20 credits)
International Supply Chain Project (20 credits)
Business Management & Administration 3 (20 credits)
Trade Finance and Payments or (20 credits)
Public Financial Administration and Asset Management (20 credits)*
Transport & Logistics 3 (20 credits) or
Procurement 3 (20 credits) or
Public Procurement 3 (20 credits)
*Only for Public Procurement elective
Note: Third year modules will be available from Semester 2-2021
Have you asked yourself where you want to be in five years’ time? That’s a question we ask ourselves throughout our lives. Probably the most common answer is to secure your future and have a well-paid job, or in many instances, running your own business.
Of course, the trigger here would be to have graduated with a degree, certificate or diploma. But you might be in the situation where you either can’t afford to attend university full-time or you are dependent on a job to support yourself or your family. The solution would be to consider part-time distance/online study.
Fortunately, in this country, we have access to many private and public colleges or universities that offer these programmes. Some of the private institutions are the IMM Graduate School, Vega, Boston College, Damelin or Oxbridge. Then there are the large public institutions such as the University of Johannesburg (UJ), the University of Cape Town (UCT) and UNISA, the list goes on. Whichever institution you choose, you will earn the same qualification online as you would in a classroom.
Your first decision would be to decide how and where you want to study – at a large university such as UNISA or the smaller private institutions like the IMM Graduate School which tend to be more hands-on. It’s really a question of what makes you feel more comfortable.
The advantage of the IMM Graduate School, is that there are Student Support Centres around the country, with a team of administrative staff ready to assist with queries. You’ll also be in touch with your lecturer online every week. The great thing is that you’ll get the chance to meet fellow students to share similar interests and challenges, and after all, we tend to be social beings, so you’ll never feel alone.
Student Pacers can help you pace your studies to make sure that you cover the entire module in preparation for your exams. Should you miss one of the online live tutorials, not to worry, as you’ll be able to pick up the recorded version at a later stage. Most important is that the IMM Graduate School is, by the way, one of the best private distance learning providers if you’re interested in an international qualification. So, you can study local and work global.
One of the great things about studying online is that you can do it in your own time and from just about anywhere.
Before you take the plunge, here are a few things you should know about distance learning:
The word ‘distance/online’ can be misleading because it could conjure up the idea that it means a ‘passive’ method of learning. Not true.
It can be said that distance learning requires a lot more discipline. You will need to schedule in your study time between work and other life commitments. Besides the education you will be gaining from your course, you will also gain much needed organizational and time management skills. Studying through distance learning is a proud achievement. IMM graduates stand out because when they qualify, they have so much more to offer and have ‘work ready’ skills, many of which were acquired through the process of distance learning.
While you are working your way through your programme, remember that you can be much more productive with a structured approach. According to guidelines set out by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in the USA, a 10-minute study break every 50 minutes is ideal. At the start, plan smaller study sessions and as you become more confident, add a larger break of 30 minutes or more every couple of hours. These will not only be great goalposts to work towards, but they’ll help you feel refreshed and rejuvenated for your next study session.
Here are some suggestions for achieving great marks with the IMM Graduate School and getting on the good side of your lecturers, after all they are integral to your success.
Follow the guidelines provided in each modules study guide and get to understand the e-Learn system. Always make sure that your email is working and that you check your inbox regularly for any updates or announcements from your lecturers.
Communicate regularly with your lecturers and show an interest in and in your course module(s) and your fellow students. Ask questions if you don’t understand something and be courteous. This does wonders in establishing a positive relationship and builds trust between you and your lecturers.
Respond promptly to assignment deadlines and start preparation for your exams early.
Be disciplined and show that you can organise your life to meet the rigors of an online class.
BEWARE OF PLAGIARISM The most common form of plagiarism is where entire paragraphs or sentences are copied and pasted without acknowledging the source. Ignorance is no excuse.