Our blog posts and articles here at Logistics Bureau are almost always written to inform, but this time we’re writing with a request for information. We’d like to know what you believe your managers and staff need from a supply chain education program.
Why are we asking?…
Well… As you may know, we have an education division in our group called Supply Chain Leaders Academy, and every so often we like to make sure our program is still up-to-date and relevant.
So after summarising the key content elements of Supply Chain Leaders Academy in this article, we’ll ask you to give us a little feedback, including your thoughts on what additions and enhancements would make the program even more valuable to your business.
A Brief Overview of Supply Chain Leaders Academy
Supply Chain Leaders Academy is an accelerated training and education program for business managers and leaders and anybody who’d like a better understanding of supply chain operations.
We take a pragmatic approach to education using a blended learning model, combining a number of classroom-based workshops with a full program of online classes, educational videos, and other forms of media designed to make the learning process productive and enjoyable.
SCLA focuses on the practical knowledge necessary to succeed in real-world supply chain management, and therefore is not heavily laced with academic theory, although of course all key concepts, models, and tools are explained as part of the program content.
A Summary of SCLA Topics and Content
The Supply Chain Leaders Academy program is very comprehensive—covering a multitude of topics—all of which are crucial for a full and practical understanding of supply chain and logistics management.
In fact there are so many topics that even a detailed summary would require a much longer article than this one, but the following lists outline the main topic areas, touching on the importance of each and the reasons for including them in the SCLA program.
General Supply Chain Education
Introductory Supply Chain Topics: We cover the fundamentals of supply chain and logistics management, making SCLA suitable for staff from areas not directly involved in the supply chain. If you have employees or managers that are completely new to supply chain operations, a year or two in our program should be all the education they need to graduate first to a basic understanding, and then go on to become competent or even advanced practitioners.
Supply Chain Strategy: Especially relevant for company executives and senior supply chain leaders, our classes on supply chain strategy help to bridge a common knowledge gap. Companies often struggle to get supply chain strategy right, and SCLA can help your team avoid many of the common pitfalls and issues.
Distribution Network Performance and Design: An efficient distribution network can save a ton of money for operators, but companies often underestimate the degree to which poor network design can impact performance. SCLA includes case studies and examples of network-design problems and solutions, as well as tips and techniques for improving and optimising distribution networks.
Supply Chain Cost Reduction: Supply chain operators are typically under constant pressure to reduce costs, but there are smart and less-smart ways to deliver cost improvements. The SCLA program guides leaders and managers through concepts and techniques such as cost-to-serve analysis and similar methodologies to identify those hidden supply chain costs which often get overlooked.
Supply Chain Sustainability: Industrial and commercial enterprises all have a responsibility to reduce carbon emissions and the depletion of natural resources. Many sustainability opportunities exist within logistics operations, and at the Supply Chain Leaders Academy, members can learn how to spot those opportunities and actively reduce environmental impact.
Supply Chain Technology: If the human resource is the most critical in supply chain operation, information technology is not far behind. Members of SCLA have access to a wealth of information and advice for selecting, implementing, and working with important supply chain and logistics technology platforms such as ERP, WMS and TMS.
Supply Chain Financial and Legal Considerations: These topics deal with some of the supply chain specific technicalities which can be confusing for the uninitiated. Here are a few examples of the financial and legal points included in the program:
- Construction of business cases
- Health and safety management
- Incoterms and international payments
- Supply chain documentation
Specialised Supply Chains: Most types of supply chain share a lot of similarities, but a few are highly specialised, requiring that logistics in particular is managed in a somewhat different manner. The SCLA program delves into the peculiarities of some of these special cases, such as beverage distribution, humanitarian logistics, and transportation of perishable goods.
Supply Chain Functions and their Management
Functional Fundamentals: Members of SCLA get to learn about the fundamentals of management in every supply chain function, including purchasing, warehousing, and transportation. We also cover production and manufacturing to some extent, and touch on other functional areas such as human resources and procurement.
These functional basics are incredibly valuable for professionals moving into their first senior supply chain leadership position, because most people don’t have the benefit of working in multiple functions before joining the upper echelons of management.
Advanced Functional Education: While the basics of all supply chain functions are covered in the SCLA program, we provide education to a much more advanced level in warehouse and logistics management. Topics include:
- Warehouse design and setup
- Warehouse and distribution centre process improvement
- Warehouse and logistics performance management, measurement, and benchmarking
- Continuous improvement methodologies such as Lean and Six Sigma
- Transportation management (including specialised types of transportation)
- Inventory management
Logistics Outsourcing: It’s increasingly common for companies to outsource warehousing and transport operations to third-party logistics providers. Outsourcing can be complicated though and there are plenty of ways in which it can go wrong. The SCLA program includes topics highlighting the potential pitfalls of logistics outsourcing and offering practical advice to avoid them.
People in the Supply Chain
Customer Service: This is another area in which supply chain plays a vital role, but many companies fail to focus their supply chain and logistics resources sufficiently on customer service. By ensuring customer service is a key topic in the SCLA program, we hope to help enterprises develop more customer-centric supply chain operations.
Supplier Management and Relationships: A supply chain usually comprises multiple companies, meaning relationships and management of external partners is critical. We cover these areas extensively to help our members become comfortable with managing suppliers and building beneficial inter-company relationships.
Managing people: Supply chain management is all about interpersonal as well as intercompany relationships. The Supply Chain Leaders Academy includes content focused on improving interpersonal, leadership, and people-management skills. These skills are so important to run a supply chain successfully, but academic supply chain programs don’t typically give them a great deal of airtime. However, your company can bridge this learning gap by enrolling staff at SCLA.
Personal Development: Another educational gap is addressed by SCLA’s personal development topics, which offer advice and guidance for professionals wishing to improve supply chain career prospects and progress into more rewarding and lucrative positions on the management ladder.
The above topic lists are far from exhaustive, but should at least give you a good idea of the depth and breadth of the Supply Chain Leaders Academy program. So now it’s over to you.
What Skills do Your Staff Need to Improve?
We’d love to know what you consider to be the important skill and learning gaps in your company’s supply chain organisation. If you already have managers or employees enrolled in our program, are there any topical areas that you’d like to see added to the SCLA curriculum?
If you’re not familiar with the SCLA, your opinion is still important to us. If you see any topics missing from the breakdown in this article, and feel that their presence in the program would encourage you to enroll some of your managers or staff, please do let us know in a comment.
It’s possible we’ll already have some of the topics you suggest, but have just not listed them here. If that should prove to be the case, we’ll reply to your comment and let you know.
On the other hand, we’re sure there must be some elements of supply chain and logistics management that we’re not currently covering in detail (or at all) and your suggestions will help us determine steps to update and improve the value of Supply Chain Leaders Academy.