Analysis Of Findings From Literature Reviews Commerce Essay

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As both research and practice in SCM have increased, the knowledge base has also grown. A historical perspective illustrates one significant and necessary stream of literature is concerned with establishing the nature and scope of SCM practice. There exists diversity in the realm of supply chain management research as some researchers have focused mainly upon the definition of the supply chain (i.e. Christopher 1992) while others concentrate upon both the definition of the supply chain along with the strategic management thereof (Mentzer 2001; Dodgson 2001; Crowley & Domb 1997). Closely related is research into the overall makeup and environment of SCM including the structure, processes, and components (Dyer 2000; Mariotti 1999; Lambert et al 1998; Cooper, Lambert and Pagh 1997).

Findings from this study suggest there are a large number of factors important in the practice of efficient and effective supply chain management. Characteristics within organizations and the interaction of these characteristics in inter-organizational relationships further complicate the understanding and modeling of supply chain practice.

However, clearly delineating the critical thematic content areas and organizational characteristics is a necessary step in the improvement of supply chain practice. Outcomes of this study are useful not only in the development of future models and benchmarking tools, but can also be used to improve existing supply chain management tools.

Additionally, the findings from this lesson give valuable information for the improvement of curriculum concerned with supply chain management. Understanding the criteria leading to supply chain success provides the foundation for courses that examine: leadership management, product information technology, partnering capabilities, companies' financial strength, and organizational quality.

The main unit of study in near the beginning SCM research was the dyad, emphasizing the management of boundary-spanning behavior, as illustrated by Harrington, Lambert, and Sterling (1992) and Gassenheimer, Sterling, and Robicheaux (1996). As the field evolved in the late 1990s, the theoretical unit of analysis became mainly the network as firms gradually more documented their role as part of a number of supply chains, having several customers and several as well as different suppliers (Kopczak and Johnson 2003). In spite of this accredited theoretical development from dyad to network, a dyadic unit of analysis in research continues to be clear in experiential SCM research (Sachan and Dattg 2005). Current interest in opposed units of analyses continues as SCM research aims to provide systematic strength of the supply chain. Apart from differing units of analysis, SCM research has encompassed a range of analysis levels including tactical, operational, strategy and strategic orientation.

Innovation is not simply a technical-rational process of ''solving problems''; rather, the sociology of technology should also be considered for successful applications. Innovation also involves economic and political processes in the articulation of interests, the building of alliances, and struggles over outcomes.

This includes the strategic interests of powerful corporate players and the struggles of these players for domination in the marketplace (Webster, 1995). Moreover, security-related issues after 9/11 have caused companies to re-evaluate their international business activities in terms of identifying the right partners to safeguard the nation's security and its people. Also, governments around the world have changed their policies on international collaboration in all areas including commerce. In order to be successful in a global market, it is necessary to consider customer requirements through the forming of suitable strategic alliances and by pooling the core competencies of partnering firms. This again puts the focus on mass customization using technologies and innovations.

Knowledge and IT management in SCM Since we are operating in information and automation intensive world, there is a need for knowledge workers to contribute to the valueadding activities in advanced organization. Knowledge and IT management requires a systemic approach or framework for educating and training workers in teamwork and be innovative. Management of technology requires planning, developing and implementation decisions based on the characteristics of business processes and organizational objectives.

Analysis of findings from Primary Data

Apart from the literature reviews, I had collected primary data form the personal interview surveys.

Population and research sample

Individual Super Market Companies were treated as the unit of analysis. Super market companies located in London were chosen as the sample for this study. I have used non probability sampling method. I had used convenience sampling method for my research. I had selected this method because I could get the appropriate data with this method. The sample size I had selected was 35. Probability sampling method was not possible because of limited resources and time. However the outcome of the research is relevant to probability method.

Instrumentation

The survey instrument consisted of a cover letter, questionnaire.

Development of questionnaire

A structured questionnaire was developed to collect data from the British supermarket companies. The most fundamental and important issue in any survey procedure is to test the questionnaire for the purpose.

The cover letter was also designed to enhance the overall response rate. First, the cover letter ensured the respondents that information contained in the survey would remain confidential and the results reported on an aggregate basis only. Second, in an attempt to encourage participation, the cover letter stipulated that answering the survey would take no longer than ten minutes.

Information about the respondents

The personal interview surveys took place in the British supermarkets and organized chain stores businesses in London. A total of 32 personal interviews were conducted mostly from Sainsbury's supermarkets and few of them from Tesco, Asda, Morrions, M & S, Waitrose and Sumerfields.

The interviews were administered to individuals identified from the list of executive officers, directors, presidents, or vice presidents. Any survey in supply chain management faces a difficult task to route the instrument to the appropriate person in an organization, since supply chain encompasses many units within an organization.

This survey provides a senior management view but one that has, almost entirely, a vested curiosity in a winning projects. They are a group that is likely to be worried with business profit (ends) rather than means. Thus the answers can be expected to be biased to the positive in respect of their business' achievements.

Discussion of the Data

The data was discussed by grouping the individual questions into following main categories which provided a picture of the respondents, their organizations and the whole industry's competitive performance.

Basic Information

Supply Chain Management of the company

Main reasons for implementing SCM

Importance of SCM and Investment for SCM

Role of technology in SCM

Innovations and SCM

Importance of SCM in improving company performance

Barriers of SCM

Basic information

The respondents were mostly from all the major supermarkets companies based in London The supermarkets include Tesco, Sainsbury's, Morrison's, Asda, Waitrose, Marks and Spencer and Sumerfields.

As I have been working with Sainsbury's from last three years, most of the respondents (18) were from Sainsbury's.

Almost half of the respondents were at middle management level, more than one fourth of the respondents were from senior management (e.g. Director) and slightly less was the supply chain management consultants. By means of the job titles and roles the respondent's background was conjectured.

Supply Chain Management of the company

Main reasons for implementing SCM

The top eight reasons that are believed to be the significant reasons for implementation of SCM initiatives as shown in (table1 and graph 1) include: reduce costs of operation, improve inventory, improve customer satisfaction, improve lead times, remain competitive, and increase flexibility as 86 percent, 82 percent, 75 percent, 75 percent, 71 percent, and 64 percent respectively of the respondents perceived that they are important. As indicated by the 95 percent confidence intervals shown in the parentheses, these proportions are inferred to be significant.

It also signifies that the respondents believe that the SCM plan can improve the efficiency and effectiveness of company's transformation process. Improving output quality and increasing market share were believed to be the other two reasons for SCM implementation, each receiving 49 percent. These low ratings may not signify that they are not important since they already perceived improving customer satisfaction and lead times, reducing costs of operation, and remaining competitive as significantly important. It is also possible that the operating facilities of the company may have implemented quality improvement projects and improved quality of their products and services to compete strongly in the market place.

Note: The above percentages add to more than 100% since respondents could select as many types of techniques as were applicable to their organization.

Importance of SCM and Investment for SCM

The majority of respondents (82%) agree that their supply chain and manufacturing systems have become much more flexible over recent years. But a more responsive supply chain comes at a price: one in five (21%) of the sample say they are investing considerably more in their supply chain and manufacturing systems than they did three years ago. Half (54%) estimate their investment remains at about the same level, with 8% shifting spending to different areas.

Significantly, not a single one of our respondents admits to investing less in supply chain systems now than they were spending before, despite the fact that many operate in sectors which have experienced substantial pressures to keep a lid on spending during tough trading conditions. There is further evidence of how important managing the supply chain has become, with the finding that almost 90% of organizations either have a dedicated supply chain director (18%) or another board director who takes responsibility for supply chain operations (30%). A similar proportion (48%) also has a five-year strategy in place for their supply chain and manufacturing systems.

But despite these impressive levels of commitment, backed up by continuing investment, only a small number of companies appear to have made major advances. Just 27% of our sample reckons they have realized all the benefits expected from their supply chain systems.

The fast food service companies like McDonald's use Just In Time supply chain systems for and partnerships with the suppliers (26%). The fashion retailers and supermarket companies mostly do subcontracting and outsourcing for managing their supply chain (30% and 35% respectively). About 19% of the respondents told that they give the responsibility of managing their supply chain to the external consultants. About 28% respondents told that they have few dedicated authorized suppliers instead of too many.

Note: The above percentages add to more than 100% since respondents could select as many types of techniques as were applicable to their organization.

Role of technology in SCM

The survey respondents were asked to rate the use of specific information technology applications in supplier and customer interactions, on a six-point scale from "to no extent", "to a very little extent", "to a little extent", "to some extent", "to a great extent", and to "always".

The most frequently used technology is "e-mail/faxes", as 94 percent and 76 percent of the respondents indicated of using them "to some extent", "to a great extent", or "always" with suppliers, and customers, respectively. Similarly, 82 percent and 74 percent of the respondents respectively indicated the use of "bar-coding and scanning" in supporting supplier and customer transactions. Over 54 percent of the respondents indicated the use of EDI to manage customer transactions. The ERP systems were used with suppliers and customers with 65 and 58 percent, respectively, of the respondents indicated using them "to some extent", "to a great extent", or "always". Similarly, worldwide web-based systems were used to support manage supplier and customer transactions by 67 percent and 73 percent of the respondents, respectively. These results clearly indicate the high level use of IT tools for managing customer transactions.

Innovations and SCM

When asked about the any innovations company seeking for effective SCM. Almost all the respondent companies are working for the innovations. In the management of product flows, the innovations include concepts such as modularization (85%), postponement (34%), mass customization and flexible automation (67%), time-based logistics (60%), and cross docking (15%). In the management of information flows, the innovations include the use of information technologies and strategic partnerships to improve the transparency of information (100%). The respondent companies also review the specific strategies that use the enhanced information flows such as continuous replenishment (78%), vendor managed inventory (65%), quick response and efficient consumer response (70%).

Many organizations evidently feel they are on track for success in the longer term, even though they have little to show for their efforts just now. A third of this year's respondents, for example, have realized some benefits, while the majority (56%) are confident they may well do so in the future. None of them believe that achieving these benefits is unlikely - just part of a lengthy process.

Three-quarters (73%) of our sample say they are now making greater use of

integration tools or technology to link together internal applications than they did two years ago.

Note: The above percentages add to more than 100% since respondents could select as many types of techniques as were applicable to their organization.

Importance of SCM in improving company performance

Almost all the companies have separate supply chain or logistics department.

The findings related to performance measurement do not appear to indicate a reliable description of how SCM success can be measured. This is due to the fact that most of the respondents indicated low level of SCM integration in the company's operating divisions. Therefore, it is not clear if the respondents intended to cite what measures they would use or already they are using to measure SCM improvement efforts. Some may have answered negatively because of the low level of integration, and some yet did not answer at all. When respondents were asked to rate the general effectiveness measures achieved as result of SCM initiatives, "reduced inventory levels", "increased customer satisfaction", "compressed order cycle time", "improved relationships with upstream partners", and "improved teamwork and cooperation among employees" were found to be significant as 59, 59, 58, 58 and 56 percent of the respondents indicated that these measures were "somewhat" to "fully" achieved. "Reduced operating costs" (54 percent) and "increased customer service levels" (54 percent) are the other two general effectiveness measures achieved. Based on the 95 percent confidence intervals, none of these proportions can be inferred to be statistically significant.

On the other hand, when the respondents were asked to rate which performance measures used, they respondents indicated that inventory turns, cost reduction, and on time delivery as the only three most important measures that are being used to evaluate the SCM plans with 63, 61 and 57 percent of the of them agreeing. Delivery times, lead times, and output quality are the other measures used, however, with only 54, 48 and 48 percent of the respondents agreeing. One would expect higher proportions for all these performance measure if SCM plans were effectively implemented. As explained earlier, the low level of SCM implementation could be the reason for these perceptions and indicates the need for further improvement.

Note: The above percentages add to more than 100% since respondents could select as many types of techniques as were applicable to their organization.

Barriers of SCM

When asked the respondents to assess what main barriers they face in achieving all the gains expected from their supply chain systems.

There are many barriers to building a high-performance supply chain. The survey respondents told the five most common - Top of the list comes, the difficulty of changing internal processes, which (74%) feel are too inflexible, lack of visibility due to data silos (60%); lack of predictability (68%), due to a lack of visibility and the inability to identify changes necessary to get processes back on-track; incomplete information (55%), due to incompatible or incomplete reporting systems; and optimization at the local level (63%).

Note: The above percentages add to more than 100% since respondents could select as many types of techniques as were applicable to their organization.

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