Supply chain management has gaining its importance in serving business operations and being part of strategic management of the business. Its role has been shifted from being a support department to being the core department of business with strategic importance and role to play in overall operations of the business. In modern business world no organization can sustain without having a well established, effective and efficient supply chain management. The role of vendors along with vendor management with the introduction of information technology is important consideration for organizations.
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Now with increase of strategic importance of supply chain management the service provider is now becoming a partner to the organization, rather being just the vendor. The factor influencing competitive advantage of the organization is now having the better vendor management and vendor relations in the list. Therefore in coming years the importance of supply chain management is expected to increase with the increase in competition and globalization.
To understand the strategic supply chain management, key concepts and use of information technology to maintain the vendor relationships, this report in presented on one of the leading FMCG company Nestle. Their products range is wide and the concentration of this report is on organization’s Pakistan operations. Since Pakistan is the part of their global supply chain operations but for their milk products they have to rely on the local milk suppliers who are not very much educated and well equipped. Therefore managing them is a challenge for the organization and same challenge and its handling is under study in this report. There are some recommendations also given at the end so that improvements can be made in local supply chain.
2ai) Current Supply Chain Strategies in Nestle
In these lines I shall be looking at the supply chain management of Nestle Pakistan’s operation and would not be discussing the global supply chain management of the organization. The organization has remarkable production facilities in the country and they have also enjoyed the healthy market share for last few decades. One of the reasons of the success of the organization is their vendor management and the intelligent distribution system.
The market in Pakistan is mostly dependent upon the distribution network and same has been managed by the organization in recent years by having excellent relationship with their channel members and logistics. Their distribution network makes sure that every product is distributed in the required areas at the required time and the demand and supply does not have any gap. Their distribution setup is synced with their production system therefore they do not have to manage the inventory of the product for the longer period of time. This strategy has saved the organization on financial side moreover they have been able to provide the product to the market at demand (Hugos, 2006).
The second side of their supply chain management is their vendor management, they have applied the just in time management concept in their raw material procurement and vendors are very well synced with the procurement and procurement is synced with the production and other support departments. This just in time management has also saved the organization the inventory management cost of the raw material and they are able to maintain a very low level of the inventory. Their vendor are also required to make sure that their raw material reaches to the organization on time (Hugos, 2006).
2aii) Use of IT to Maintain Vendor Relationships
The information technology is serving organization to manage their business operations in different ways; the same concept can also be applied to manage vendor relationships with Nestle Pakistan’s operations.
The organization can design a procurement network that is integrated with the various departments of the organization. And the procurement department can have information technology based application that are also integrated with the systems of the vendors and are automated. By using this system organization have the concept of just in time management applied in full spirit and the vendors will also be aware of the production schedules of the organization and they will be able to plan their delivery and their own production planning according (Hugos, 2006).
The above mentioned scenario will make it easy and convenient for the vendors to do business with the organization and they will have better relationships with the organization and will continue to do business with them. With having these relationships with the organization they will be able to be partners of the company.
2bi) Assistance of IT in Supply Chain
The use of information technology can assist a great deal in the management of supply chain in case of Nestle Pakistan operations. In the global supply chain nestle is making use of supply chain management tools that are support by latest technology available. These tools are able to integrate different parts of the supply chain that includes the just in time management of raw materials, automation of order generation to vendors and the logistics of raw material from vendor to warehouse and the distribution of the finished goods to the different channels (Chopra and Meindl, 2009).
Previously all the above mentioned parts of the supply chain were disintegrated or in some organization these parts were partially integrated. Now information technology has made is possible and easy to manage all these parts of the supply chain from one terminal and more over these parts and integrated with more automation. Example of this integration is simple, once the inventory level reaches to the pre defined minimum for the raw material at the production facility, then the order management system which is connected to the inventory management system, automatically generated order to the pre defined vendors. The order receiving systems of vendors are connected with the procurement systems of the organization (Chopra and Meindl, 2009).
After the vendor is intimated, they manage to supply the required stuff and required quantity to organization’s warehouse which is already intimated for the order delivery. All this process is done via an integrated system which is called ERP. The application of these information technology tools make the organization able to save their time and management resources and make the vendor the partners of the organization above all this usage of IT bring automation in the processes which is the requirement of production oriented organizations (Chopra and Meindl, 2009).
2bii) Effectiveness of IT in Management of Supply Chain in Nestle
When we talk about the effectively using the information technology in the Pakistan market with local vendors that we see that our case company has been able to improve a lot in recent years. Since the market of Pakistan is still in developing phase and the modern management and information technology practices are yet to be adapted in this market. Since Nestle for their business require a team of vendors that are able to provide the timely supplies therefore they had to work hard to induct the modern practices in their supply chain in relation the market conditions (Cohen and Roussel, 2004).
Apart from the current IT tools to help the organization gain the best out of their supply chain management, there is a function in which information technology and its use can play an important part in the management of business, and which is still to be explored. This area is related to the supply chain management of their milk products. For their milk brand which is called “MILK PAK” they need to collect he milk from far and village areas of the market as the milk production is mostly done in the rural areas of Pakistan.
Their milk collection process is done on daily basis and it is still on manual basis. There can be use of information technology by using this they can maintain the data base of their milk vendors which are small, geographically distributed and dispersed in locations. Moreover they can also use information technology to locate their collection van using global positioning systems and install trekkers in them so that they can make sure the safety of the milk and the vans .
2ci) Role of Logistics in Supply Chain
Logistics has an important role to play in the overall supply chain management of any organization. Logistics are the activities that are designed to keep the good or services moving from one destination to the other destination. This movement of goods or services can be related to the raw material need for production setup, and its movement would be from vendor premises to the organizational premises and this movement can also be related to movement of finished good from organizational production facility to the channel member facility.
In overall management of supply chain the logistics part has its own importance. Since the production oriented business is all about timing. If the raw material is not available to the production facility then the whole production cycle will get disturbed and similarly if the finished good are not reached to the channel members then they will not be able to distribute it on time and the result will be the complete failure of the business plan (Cohen and Roussel, 2004).
Consideration for any organization would be to have the logistics setup planned and implemented that is consuming less cost of operations more over which is integrated with the supply and demand channels of the organization. Ability to design such logistics setup helps the organization to achieve their supply chain objectives with putting minimum cost to it. The success of any supply chain management is dependent upon the design of logistics, the smarter the design which is able to serve maximum in minimum cost the better the performance of supply chain roles will be. Focus of our case organization is to design the global logistics channel that is able to satisfy the global business needs in minimum costs. And they have been able to handle this challenge smartly (Cohen and Roussel, 2004).
2cii) Evaluation of Procurement Practices in Nestle
Procurement practices in Nestle global as well as Nestle Pakistan are streamlined and working on the smarter management concepts. It would not be wrong to say that one of the success factors for their profitability in the Pakistan is their vendor relations and smart procurement. Nestle Pakistan has to procure different good and services from different kinds of vendor for their operations; these good ranges from the raw material for their finished good as well as the supplies for the support departments like marketing. The overall philosophy of Nestle Pakistan procurement is to focus on quality as well as business efficiency (Hugos, 2006).
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When we talk about the milk product of the case company then we see that the procurement of the milk from different villagers that are spread across Pakistan is a challenge and the organization has been able to cater to this challenge very well. The important factor in the procurement of the raw milk is to make sure that milk is pure, hygienic and fresh. These things are made sure by designing a well established vendor network that is responsible for the procurement of fresh milk upon the above mentioned properties (Hugos, 2006).
Their procurement department has select the reliable and quality vendors that includes small to medium sized diaries that provides the quality milk to the company. Their procurement department also makes sure that the milk is fresh, hygienic and above the standards defined by the organization. Their logistics have made sure that the fresh milk reaches to the production facility on daily basis. The same care and quality consciousness have been practiced in other procurement tasks, and in short we can say that procurement processes at the organization are of high standards (Hugos, 2006).
2ciii) Factors for Improvement in Logistics & Procurement
There are several factors that are to be considered when organizations go for reviewing and improving their logistics and procurement. The first factor that is to be taken care of is the bargaining power of the suppliers. The higher the bargaining power of supplier the higher will be the requirement for the organization to maintain and build good relationships with their suppliers. In industries where such power is with suppliers organizations have to design their procurement process which is supplier friendly and encourages the organizations to have good friendly relationships with their vendor, focusing on making them their partners in business and getting the competitive edge out of it (Chopra and Meindl, 2009).
The second factor which is to be taken into consideration is the cost factor, the procurement and logistics can be costly to the organization if not designed creatively. The logistic are costly when their inbound and outbound management is not done the way to maximize the productivity. Therefore when organization design the procurement and logistics process they should keep in mind the cost of procuring the goods and service along with the distribution cost of the good should be minimum. These costs include the time and resources costs as well.
Another important consideration is related to the integration of procurement and logistics with rest of the business operation. Organization when improving these processes should also make it sure that the maximum integration is possible with other departments like production. They should be working on the automation of the processes that should be managed by single hub. This way the costs of operations will be minimum and automation and integration of all the operations will save time and increase efficiency in the business processes. They should also make sure that integration also include the vendors (Chopra and Meindl, 2009).
2di) Strategy for the Improvement of Supply Chain
Presented below is the brief overview about the strategy that can be used to improve the supply chain management of the organization. The focus of the strategy to improve the supply chain management of Nestle Pakistan’s operations. While reviewing this strategy it should be kept in mind that Pakistan is developing country and their vendor management and logistics operations are being run on old school management. The mentioned below point are focusing on vendor management and to increase the use of information technology to bring overall improvement (Chopra and Meindl, 2009).
First of all the organization should work on the vendor relationship management, up till now the balance of power was with the organizations in Pakistani market, but with the introduction of global economy and open market more players are entering into Pakistan and now the importance of vendors is increasing. Keeping this view in mind the Nestle should be working on increasing the organization and vendor integration and they should be made partners in business. This can be done via having automation and integration with vendor systems and simply keeping them motivated to be partners with the organization (Chopra and Meindl, 2009).
The second improvement which is required is to start the use of information technology in their supply chain management processed. Up till now the organization is using the information technology internally but they have to move out and make their vendor also use this tool. One can argue that currently vendors are not that advance in using technologies but I would say that organization would have to educate their vendors and make them part of their organizational process, this way they will be able to achieve the true partnership with their suppliers and the operations of supply chain will improve a great deal (Chopra and Meindl, 2009).
2dii) Benefits of Improvement to Business Operations
The improvements suggested above have different benefits to the organizational business operations, these benefits ranges from operation to strategic benefits. The first benefit that organization will have is that they will have a strategic competitive advantage by partnering with the suppliers of the raw material of their products. The business era is changing the market and now other players are also entering into the same market, now the competitive advantage will be with the organizations which have strategic partnership with their suppliers as well. The increases in competition have also made the suppliers aware of their important role and they are also feeling the shifting balance of power. So it will be advisable to make the partnership before others do (Hugos, 2006).
The second improvement is related to the use of information technology in supply chain management and it has many benefits for the organization. First of all the organization will be able to achieve the integration between different departments playing their part in value chain. Once this is done it will save time and financial resources to the organization as the processes will be streamlined and efficiency will increase. The second benefit of the IT usage will be that vendors and suppliers can also be made part of the organizational processes and with that supply chain overall and procurement processes in specific will be improved. This will again help the organization to get business efficiency (Hugos, 2006).
The third benefit is related to distribution part of supply chain, organization will, with the usage of information technology, have the most streamlined distribution network when they have partnered with their channel members, and this will also help in the improvement of business.
2diii) Overcoming the Barriers to Change in Improvement Strategy
Whenever there is a strategic change barriers are always there. These barriers are to be removed with the creation of understanding and delegation. The first process is to make the management understand that what are the benefits of the new strategy advised for the strategic change in supply change management. More over the management will also be informed about the challenges it has to face if they do not adapt the required changes in the market. The top management in the first phase will be made part of the process and strategic importance of the change will be introduced to them.
In the second phase where the top management will already be convinced about the required change, the middle management will be taken into confidence, at this stage the vendors will also be made part of the process so that they are aware of their role in the organization. This stage will also be comprising the rough drafts of the change. In this process all the vendors and relevant departs will be encouraged to give their feedback about the suggested changes moreover their suggestion will also be noted for any improvement.
All this discussion and delegation will create the sense of ownership in management and their feedback will make them realize that this is something for their own benefit and they will start owing it. Once the ownership is there, the barriers to change will start reducing it and fear of unknown will be removed. With this process the implementation of the strategic change will be made successful and finally the concerned departments will also be provided with the required training.
In this report I have discusses various kinds of supply chain strategies and use of information technology to improve the supply chain. The organization selected for the analysis was Nestle Pakistan, and their supply chain strategies were discussed briefly. The organization is having impressive supply chain management however they need to concentrate on two dimensions. One solution being the concentration on making the vendors partners of the organization. Second solution being increasing the use of information technology tools to manage their vendor relationships.
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