Entry Date:
December 21, 2004

Supply Chain 2020 (SC2020) Project

Through multiple case study research -- and in-depth action research cases in the context of the Supply Chain 2020 Project -- Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL) researchers have developed the process and tools to help firms understand, evaluate, and improve their current supply chain strategies. This methodology, called the SC2020 Strategy Process, has been systematized to walk practitioners, step by step, through the process of developing a deeper understanding of their supply chain strategy; evaluating it in terms of sufficiency, coverage, and alignment; and improving it to better serve the strategic objectives of the firm.

After the scope of a project has been defined, the SC2020 Strategy Process starts with a few dozen qualitative interviews with practitioners at the firm who are from different areas of interest. Data from the interviews is analyzed qualitatively and validated with the group to build a “strategy map” that connects the firm’s stated strategy and its activities on the field. Based on this map, a series of evaluations is then run to identify areas that are a poor fit in the current strategy, or that do not fit either with the business strategy or with other areas in the business. Based on this diagnostic, a reformulation effort - driven by controlled convergence - is launched, with the goal of producing a superior supply chain strategy that can be then deployed to replace the existing one.

Key benefits:
(*) A better understanding of the current supply chain strategy and other related functional strategies
(*) An evaluation of the strengths and weaknesses of the existing supply chain strategy grounded on the actual performance of various activities
(*) Concrete recommendations on how to improve the coverage and alignment of the existing supply chain strategy

PHASE 1: Completed in June 2005, the first phase of research focused on understanding excellent supply chains. It involves identifying and researching the organizations that drive today’s successful supply chains in a broad range of industries, with the aim of understanding the evolving business strategies, operating models, practices and principles that are responsible for driving improved performance.

PHASE 2: Phase II included a detailed investigation of the supply chain principles work which was initiated in Phase I. Phase II also saw the creation of the first version of the three macro factors scenarios of the world from the supply chain point of view, namely Alien Nations, Spin City, and Synchronicity. These scenarios were developed to facilitate the supply chain strategy development process using the SC2020 Strategy Alignment framework and excellent supply chain characteristics identified in Phase I.

Phase II research resulted in five Masters theses and two working papers in addition to the Advisory council proceedings.

PHASE 3: We are currently in Phase III of the project and focused heavily on the refinement of the Scenario Planning methodology and supply chain strategy development process.

Based on the ideas generated in Phases I and II of the project, we are involved in supply chain strategy work at large companies and using the learning to enhance the process. A key deliverable will include recommendations for supply chain professionals that will lead to corporate action.

Since it is highly unlikely that any one future scenario will come to pass, every set of recommendations must accompany risk management strategies. An obvious safe bet is to consider designing a flexible supply chains that can adapt according to the shifts noticed in the sensors-in-the-ground to help detect what the future might hold. This, however, presents a significant challenge in the face of extreme cost pressures as flexibility is not free. The problem is made additionally difficult due to the lack of appropriate decision making tools to help prioritizing long-term supply chain investments. We intend to present a detailed process to assist decision makers in evaluating and selecting effective supply chain strategies.