Posts Tagged ‘Supply chain management’

Your supply chain is costing you money – Reason #10 Failure to adequately train your supply chain planning staff

Published December 12th, 2014 by John Westerveld 0 Comments

Supply chain career pathOver the years, working for and with numerous manufacturing companies, I’ve seen many supply chain practices that cost companies money.  Over the next several weeks, I’ll outline these issues and discuss some ideas around how to avoid these practices. You can find the previous posts here:

Reason #10: Failure to adequately train your supply chain planning staff

When you think about it, your supply chain planning team is responsible for making decisions that can impact millions of dollars. A bad decision can result in missed orders, significant inventory, or scrapped materials.

Yet, when you look at the background of many supply chain planning workers, you’ll find a huge variation in education and experience. From people with a basic education that worked their way up from the shop floor, to people with engineering degrees that fell into supply chain planning, to business majors who have never been to the factory floor, to recent graduates with a supply chain planning background, but don’t have real-life experience on how manufacturing and supply chains work.

Having worked with a cross section of these people, I’ve seen the very best and the very worst. The very best include people that not only understand supply chain from end-to-end, but can also come up with creative solutions beyond what the typical supply chain education can prepare you for.

The worse have me wondering why they decided on a career in supply chain at all.  These are the planners that don’t know and don’t care how supply chain works. They do their jobs moving inventory from here to there, opening orders that the system says should be opened, cancelling orders that the system says should be cancelled, yet never questioning why or whether it makes sense.

Why is this a problem?  Lesupply chain management training t’s look at a quick example. Have you ever seen a situation where some result from a system– whether a bill from the phone company, a stock report or MRP recommended actions have been messed up?  It might be a programmatic error but more likely it is caused by bad data.  So imagine that you are a supply planner and the MRP report is telling you to increase orders 10x for an expensive component.  Do you do it?  The computer told you to, right?  If you are one of those planners that just blindly execute what the system says to do, then you probably would order it.  However, better supply chain planners might question that recommendation.  They use their knowledge of how planning systems work to peg up to find the source of the change and determine that someone changed the wrong record causing the change and confirm with the planner that the change was intended.  By doing this, they could potentially save the company millions of dollars in excess inventory.

There will always be people that just want to do things the way they always have. Don’t want training and aren’t interested in learning.  However, there are also those people who have a real drive to learn and would like to understand supply chain better. These are the folks you want to do everything in your power to give them the education they need.

While traditional supply chain training isn’t the only way to get really good at supply chain (I’ve met some planners that instinctively “got” supply chain – and knew their way around the system better than most) it certainly helps to have a good foundational knowledge of supply chain concepts.  One very good source of supply chain training is APICs (American Production and Inventory Control Society).  They have multiple resources as well as two certification programs; CPIM (Certified in Production Inventory Management) and CSCP (Certified Supply Chain Professional). CPIM is broken out in to 5 modules that each have an optional instructor led review course.  At the end of each module, the student is encouraged to write the exam.  Once all 5 exams have been passed, you achieve your CPIM certification.  CSCP consists of three workshops followed by an exam for certification.  Many companies have paid for their employees to achieve their certification and some have even brought instructors into the workplace to do the certification training there.  In reality, providing training in this way is a win-win for the company and the employee. The company gains by having better educated planners, the employee gains by having a certification that is recognized my many companies around the world.

Supply chain is a very complex world. Yet, it’s one place where practitioners can have a huge effect on the business yet have minimal education…and I really think that’s kind of cool!  But your supply chain team could be much more effective if given the right tools and some basic supply chain education.

How did you learn about supply chain?  Do you have any education advice for people just starting out and wanting to learn?  Comment back and let us know!

 

Posted in General News, Products, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain management


Overcoming the Challenges to Achieving End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility

Published December 1st, 2014 by Melissa Clow 2 Comments

Supply chain visibility alone won’t yield effective supply chain orchestration; it is a prerequisite capability, among others.

The 2014 Strategic Road Map for Supply Chain Visibility research recently conducted by Gartner (and included in our new Supply Chain Visibility: Envisioning the Broader Need paper), describes the current state of maturity as it relates to visibility, as follows:

“Most supply chain organizations are at Stage 2 or 3 of supply chain maturity, and thus have an inside-out view of supply chain plans, events and data. Their current visibility capabilities are most likely departmental or functional and focus separately on data and processes for planning and execution.”1

Overcoming the Challenges to Achieving End-to-End Supply Chain VisibilityThe defined maturity model consists of five stages, which means there is plenty of opportunity for organizations to make improvements in their supply chains to enhance visibility. The ultimate goal is to have visibility into not just to what is happening within your own company but extended to all areas of your supply chain, including partners. This is the shift from an inside-out to an outside-in focus. Stage 5 also entails achieving visibility across supply chain planning and execution. Attaining this level of visibility is obviously no small feat.

As supply chains get longer and more global, there has been a significant increase in the number of supply chain nodes that need to be connected and the volume of data moving among these nodes. The complexity associated with connecting these nodes – both those internal and external to the organization – is a barrier to end-to-end supply chain visibility. Data harmonization across multiple systems of record also adds another layer of complexity.

Despite these challenges, it is possible for organizations to achieve the higher levels of visibility outlined in Gartner’s model. And the benefits – which many believe include a more agile, resilient, competitive and profitable supply chain – are worth the effort.

If you are looking to establish critical supply chain visibility capabilities and progress towards higher levels in the visibility maturity model, our new paper entitled Supply Chain Visibility: Envisioning the Broader Need, is a worthwhile read. Featuring research from Gartner, the paper sheds more light on the complexities surrounding the attainment of supply chain visibility and provides a strategic roadmap for supply chain visibility initiatives. Download your copy today, as it is only be available for a limited time.

 

1Titze C., Payne T., Sarangdhar V., Devereux, P.; Gartner; 2014 Strategic Road Map for Supply Chain Visibility Initiatives; 8 September 2014

Posted in Demand management, Gartner Supply Chain Managment, General News, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain management


Guest Blog: Women of the Supply Chain: Responsibility, Collaboration and Bathroom Lines

Published November 20th, 2014 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

Josh Greenbaum, Principal, Enterprise Applications ConsultingJosh Greenbaum, Principal, Enterprise Applications Consulting recently published an interesting blog that I would like to share with our readers.

Josh has over 30 years of experience in the industry as a computer programmer, systems analyst, author, consultant, and industry analyst. He founded Enterprise Applications Consulting in 1998 and has been a pioneering independent analyst and consultant ever since.

Women of the Supply Chain: Responsibility, Collaboration and Bathroom Lines

Hanging out with Kinaxis, the relatively small and always interesting supply chain vendor from Ottawa, Canada, never fails to be an eye-opening experience. It’s not just that I get to meet with a vendor and a loyal cadre of customers who are collectively pushing the envelope on all things supply chain, it’s that sometimes they’re pushing an envelope I hadn’t seen before in my peregrinations in the supply chain world.

This year’s Kinexions user conference was no different. What I heard from Kinaxis about taking RapidResponse, its in-memory supply chain planning product, further into the realm of collaboration by pushing users to self-identify their areas of responsibility represented an excellent strategic direction on the part of Kinaxis.

I also learned something from observing the lines forming outside of the bathrooms, which, if you’ll bear with me, I promise will actually reveal one of the reasons I like where Kinaxis is heading with RapidResponse.

I feel obliged to state unequivocally that I don’t usually pay much attention to plumbing and people, except when it comes to pure self-interest. But I couldn’t help noticing that the queue for the women’s room at Kinexions was one of the longest I had ever seen at a tech conference, other than my recent visit to Workday ‘s user conference.

Of course, what I’m really talking about is the proportion of women in attendance at Kinexions relative to both the number of men at Kinexions and the gender ratios found at most tech conferences. And while the lines outside the women’s room at the recent Workday conference that I attended were even longer, there’s an important difference between the disproportionate presence of women at a supply chain conference and the even greater disproportionality at a HRMS conference.

HRMS has always been, to be blunt, a comfortable domain for women in an otherwise all-male corporate world – comfortable perhaps more for the men than the women. This phenomenon is identical to the way minorities studying in the era of affirmative action were often shunted toward the social services – in order to serve their “people” – instead of being directed towards more challenging and intellectually rewarding careers in pure research, medicine, or, God forbid, the humanities. Similarly, HR was the woman’s track in business schools back when the women of my generation were getting their MBAs. This bias towards HR as a women’s field has continued, with a Forbes article from 2011 noting that 70 percent of HR jobs were held by women at that time. Judging by the lines at Workday’s conference, that ratio looks like it still holds.

When I started looking for data to back up bathroom line observation at Kinexions, I was surprised at how much women are represented in SCM, considering that the bias towards women in the HRMS world was never at play in SCM. One data point, from the National Center of Women in Technology (NCWIT), pegged the percent of women in operations research – the nerdy upper echelon of the supply chain world – at 55 percent in 2012, the highest percentage of the eight tech professions cited (#2 was database administrators, a profession where 37 percent of the positions are held by women.) This is a lot better than the percent of CIOs that are women – 24 percent – or the overall percent of women in high-tech – 26 percent – also according to the NCWIT.

So why are there so many women in supply chain roles? Maybe there is a natural bias, though one that speaks to women’s genuine strengths and not men’s discomfort. One interesting article in SCM World cited a survey of global supply chain companies in which 74% of men and 96% women surveyed believe women possess the special skills – labeled in the article as emotional intelligence, empathy and self-awareness – that are useful in managing supply chains. (This same article also claimed that only 10 percent of the senior leadership roles in the Fortune 500 were women – which means there may be a glass ceiling for the NCWIT 55 percenters who want to move up to executive positions.)

So it’s interesting to note that the number of women at Kinexions came in at 23 percent, according to the company, a number more in line with overall tech industry averages, but still higher than the percent of women who work at Google, for example (17 percent, according to IEEE Spectrum), and higher than what appears, anecdotally, to be the average at most tech conferences.

I asked Trevor Miles, Kinaxis’ resident deep-thinker, why there were more women at supply chain conferences like Kinexions, and his response dovetails nicely with those special skills I noted above. According to Trevor, women appear to be better at cooperation and collaboration and to be more open to alternative points of view, all skills that are valued in the supply chain world.

I know I’m riding a fine line between stereotyping and arm-chair sociology, but I don’t think the notion that women on average possess these characteristics in greater percentages than men is too far-fetched. What is certainly true is that supply chain planning and management don’t lend themselves to absolute truths and command and control hierarchical management. In the world of supply chain planning there are relatively few irrefutable numbers and an over-abundance of options and alternatives that need to be weighed carefully in order for an optimal decision to be made.

This means that trade-offs, compromise, collaboration, and a whole host of people skills tend to matter a lot in getting the job done. It takes teamwork, and not just individual initiative, to consider multiple and even opposing or non-obvious alternatives in order to run a supply chain. And that teamwork doesn’t just include fellow employees: Myriad stakeholders, sometimes working across multiple companies simultaneously, must be marshalled in the service of supply chain excellence.

The fact that there is rarely, if ever, a “one true number” or single, irrefutable way to solve a supply chain problem dovetails nicely with the value of tool like RapidResponse, which makes modeling and sharing different scenarios particularly easy and efficient . Indeed, the fact that Kinaxis’ RapidResponse enables a high degree of collaborative decision-making – its use practically demands collaboration, the consideration of alternatives, teamwork, and consensus-building – makes it less surprising that Kinaxis, like the supply chain world in which it lives, can draw a disproportionate number of women to its conferences.

Which leads me to Kinaxis’ plans for RapidResponse. The company has been putting a lot more emphasis on a feature that allows stakeholders to identify – in a social collaboration-lite function inside RapidResponse – the areas that they are individually responsible for and, therefore, willing to help with when a problem in supply chain planning and management arises. What this means is that when a constraint appears, or an order suddenly changes, RapidResponse is able to connect the different stakeholders who share responsibility for a particular product, supply, region, customer, partner, or what have you, and get them working collaborative on a resolution. It’s a way to take the natural collaborative tendencies of supply chain planners and managers – regardless of their gender stereotypes – and enhance those tendencies with a collaboration tool.

The other reason I like this approach is that it serves as a justification for my position on why general-purpose collaboration tools haven’t really set the world on fire, despite the incessant hype around these tools. What Kinaxis is offering is the opposite of a general-purpose tool: the company has picked an essential and well-known business process and injected a new, relatively simple, and highly valuable form of collaboration. Of course you could do this with a general-purpose collaboration tool, but it makes much more sense to have the collaborative process function in the context of the business process and its tool, in this case RapidResponse.

This responsibility function will have a lot of applicability to other areas where Kinaxis wants to take what is fundamentally a superlative planning tool. Areas like capital equipment planning, asset management, project management, and the like are ripe for the things that RapidResponse does best: to go where planning is hard and help manage the path to compromise.

Whether Kinaxis will simultaneously drive an even greater participation for women outside the supply chain world remains to be seen. But it’s important to note, considering the current sturm und drang about diversity in high-tech, particularly gender diversity, that there are domains like supply chain and tools like RapidResponse that seem to attract more than the usual number of women, for all the right reasons.

In an industry that liberally festoons itself with the trappings of hipness, the de facto status of women as a minority borders on the absurd, as do the excuses, even in companies with female CEOs, for the lack of women in decision-making positions. I doubt Kinaxis set out to upend traditional gender norms and favor women and their unique skills when it developed RapidResponse, but it’s nice to note that moving the needle in the supply chain world can also move the needle in the larger society in which we live. For the better.

Posted in General News, Products, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain management


Top 10 Movie Quotes from Kinexions! The Kinaxis Training & User Conference

Published September 26th, 2014 by Bill DuBois 0 Comments

Film poster for Top Gun (film) - Copyright 198...It’s an exciting time of the year at Kinaxis as we gear up for another user conference. Kinexions will take place this year in San Diego with the theme set as Innovation at Mach Speed (with some Top Gun references), a keynote from Navy SEAL Robert O’Neill and Afterburner (actual fighter pilots), along with a unique Customer Appreciation event.

The last couple of years we did parodies on movies, like “The Hangover” and “Back to the Future” so with the movie theme continuing, here are the…

Top 10 movie quotes from Kinexions that were also heard in famous movies.

10. Exchange between a customer and developer after seeing the capabilities in the next release: “Surely you can’t be serious?!” “I am serious…and don’t call me Shirley.”

9. Customer sharing ERP deployment horror stories: “ERP deployment is like a tense episode of ‘Everybody Loves Raymond’…only it doesn’t last 22 minutes. It lasts a lifetime.”

8. Customer talking to his Account Executive: “Keith, since I’ve met you I’ve noticed things I never knew were there before…birds singing, dew glistening on a newly formed leaf, stoplights….(scorecards, dashboards…).”

7. Customer after hearing Doug Colbeth’s opening remarks: “He’s the sweetest guy. Have you ever looked into his eyes? I swear it was like the first time I heard the Beatles.”

6. Prospect after seeing a Customer presentation: “I’ll have what she’s having.”

5. Customer before the Product Management presentation: “Go ahead, make my day.”

4.  Product Management after their presentation: “How’d ya like those apples?”

3. CIO to VP of Supply Chain: With great power comes great responsibility.”

2. Customer running a “what-if” in a training class: “I feel the need. I feel the need for speed.”

1. Attendee leaving Kinexions: “I’ll Be Back”.

 

Can you guess the movies? Hope to see you at Kinexions.

kinexions 2014

Posted in Demand management, General News, Jokes, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management


On the road! 4 September supply chain conferences we love

Published September 9th, 2014 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

September is a busy time of year for us at Kinaxis – Many folks here are flying the skies to attend various conferences. Here’s the supply chain conferences we love and will be attending. Hope to see you in the coming weeks!

Gartner EMEA1. Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference
September 10-11
London, UK

Kinaxis is pleased to be a Premier Sponsor and participate in panel discussion of the 2014 EMEA Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference.

Panel Details:
“The Technological Advances that Will Catapult Supply Chains into the Next Decade”
Wednesday September 10th at 9:45 AM – 10:15 AM in Room Westminster B&C

Immediately following the keynote speaker, Trevor Miles, Vice President of Thought Leadership at Kinaxis, along with other technology vendors, will take part in the following panel topic: Technology advancements have been at the heart of supply chain transformations during the past decade. Throughout the next decade, a whole new set of technologies will underpin supply chain success stories. A series of thought-provoking questions focused on the future of supply chain technologies will be put to the panel.

Learn More
Schedule Meeting
 
Supply Chain Insights Conference Image
2. Supply Chain Insights Global Summit
September 10-11
Scottsdale, AZ

Kinaxis is pleased to sponsor and participate in panel discussion the Supply Chain Insights Global Summit.

This exclusive event is designed for the line-of-business leader (Supply Chain Leaders, Chief Financial Officers and Corporate Social Responsibility Leaders) driving supply chain excellence and building value networks.

Panel Details:
“Top 15 Supply Chains to Admire”
Wednesday, September 10th at 10:30 AM – 11:15 AM in Room Westminster B&C
The Phoenician, Scottsdale, AZ

The “Top 15 Supply Chains to Admire” is the culmination of a two-year effort to evaluate supply chain performance and improvement for the years of 2006-2013 by industry by vertical for publicly-held companies. To make the list, companies out-performed their peer group on operating margin, inventory turns and Return on Invested Capital while driving significant improvement in financial metrics over the period.Supply Chain Improvement is based on a detailed analysis calculated factors for balance, strength and resiliency. This methodology, termed the Supply Chain Index, was developed in partnership with the Operations Research team at Arizona State University. As part of the panel, four ex-AMR analysts –Roddy Martin, Mickey North Rizza, Lora Cecere and CJ Wehlage– will share insights on the results and the trends.

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Schedule Meeting
 
LogiPharma US
3. LogiPharma
September 16-18
Princeton, NJ

Kinaxis is pleased to be a sponsor and participate in panel discussion of North America’s #1 End to End Supply Chain Conference for Pharmaceutical and BioPharmaceutical Companies.

Supply Chain Visibility Panel Details:
“Getting Information from a Variety of Systems into One Location to Extract Information”
Thursday September 18th at 9:55 AM

Join Trevor Miles, Vice President, Thought Leadership at Kinaxis, along with supply chain executives, as they discuss ways to gather data from a variety of systems into one location for the purposes of gaining actionable information and insight to make decisions in real time.

Learn More
Schedule Meeting
Automotive Logistics Global Conference
4. Automotive Logistics Global Conference
September 16-18
Detroit, Michigan

Kinaxis is pleased to be a Silver Sponsor of the 15th Annual Automotive Logistics Global Conference.

The Automotive Logistics Global Conference is the place where the intelligence, contacts and expertise come together to address industry challenges.  Join Kinaxis and the most senior executives from OEMs, Tier suppliers and LSPs to network, learn and do business.

Learn More
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Happy Tuesday all!

Posted in General News, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply Chain Events, Supply chain management


Throw Back Thursday: How Can Companies Respond Rapidly to Demand?

Published September 4th, 2014 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

How Can Companies Respond Rapidly to Demand? Kinexions - Kinaxis & SupplyChainBrain Series

As I’ve mentioned in my last couple of Thursday blogs, we are starting to gear up for this year’s Kinexions (our annual training & user conference). A few weeks ago I began to reminisce about our videos from past conferences and I decided to create a blog series to share. So, on this ‘Throw Back Thursday’, I would like to share this video of Trevor Miles, Vice President of Thought Leadership, speaking about “How Can Companies Respond Rapidly to Demand?”.

In this video, hear Trevor detail industry’s major supply-chain management challenges – in particular, the difficulty of obtaining full visibility of supply and demand, and dealing with the volatility of markets.

Many companies seem wedded to their spreadsheets, even though they’re aware of the format’s shortcomings. Miles says executives have “a very legacy approach” to thinking about business processes. As a result, they’ve created “islands” of automation that do not add up to a coherent, smoothly flowing supply chain.

“People want to get away from that,” he says, “but it’s the manner in which they are trying to enable those different processes that is just lacking.”

If you don’t see the video below, view “How Can Companies Respond Rapidly to Demand?” here.

Posted in Milesahead, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management


Remembering: Compromise. Confessions of a Supply Chain Dropout by Laura Dionne, TriQuint at Kinexions

Published August 21st, 2014 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

Compromise. Confessions of a Supply Chain Dropout by Laura Dionne TriQuint at Kinexions

Like I’ve mentioned in my last couple of Thursday blogs, we are starting to gear up for this year’s Kinexions (our annual training & user conference). A few weeks ago I began to reminisce about our fun customer videos from past conferences and I decided to create a blog series to share. So, on this ‘Throw Back Thursday’, I would like to share this video of Laura Dionne, director worldwide operations planning, presenting “Compromise. Confessions of a Supply Chain Dropout”.

In this video hear Laura Dionne, JP Swanson and Guenter Schmidt speak about their experience with RapidResponse – it’s not only educational, but fun too. Please check it out!

Laura Dionne has over 30 years of semiconductor experience spanning manufacturing, supply chain, IT and operations. Her career has spanned supply network activities from the days of 13 column pads to Lotus 1-2-3, to MRP & APO and now into Her professional passion is focused around business intelligence and decision support, rapid analysis of multi-dimensional problems (profit, revenue, cost, capital) as well as the marriage of business process, IT solutions and employee development for solving business challenges.

If you don’t see the video below, view “Compromise. Confessions of a Supply Chain Dropout” here.

Posted in General News, Supply chain comedy, Supply chain management


What the Analysts Are Saying About…A&D Supply Chains

Published July 18th, 2014 by Bill DuBois 0 Comments

What the Supply Chain Analysts Are Saying About A and D

Are you looking for some reading material to pass the time on your next flight? Even if you’re not you should check out Supply Chain Insights, Supply Chain Metrics That Matter. For the past several years, Supply Chain Insights has been delivering this research series.  What caught my eye is that for each report, they do a deep dive on a specific industry and use a mix of financial data, survey research results and interactions with their clients to help get a better understanding of various industries’ supply chains.

I spread my Supply Chain wings at an Aerospace company and since Aerospace and Defense is a key vertical market for Kinaxis, the recent Supply Chain Metrics That Matter: A Focus on Aerospace & Defense report was downloaded on my laptop to read on my next flight. The research benchmarks A&D companies against other industries and looks at the top five A&D companies over the last decade. Although it didn’t give any suggestions on what to do when you find yourself in row 32, you know the one next to the washroom, it did discuss the challenges the industry is facing as well as offering up solid recommendations for areas of improvement.

From a challenges perspective, here are the highlights covered in this report.

The obvious challenge is the complexity in the A&D industry. The report uses the Boeing 747-8 International as an example. It has about 6 million components which are manufactured in 30 countries by 550 unique suppliers. Think about those design, sourcing and delivery challenges. I always thought getting through security these days was complex.

With such a heavy reliance on first, second, third, fourth and fifth tier suppliers and in some cases having only one or two suppliers for specific components, it’s easy to see how delays and budget overages can happen. A supply chain based so heavily on external sources is susceptible to more risk than catching a flight on time out of Newark. As Supply Chain Insights mentions, this is having a significant impact on the company’s bottom line.

Interestingly, to help address the issue of ensuring materials are available when needed; the research indicates that A&D companies have “developed some of the most advanced sourcing techniques and practices.” Companies like Lockheed Martin, are looking at new strategies for materials (raw or otherwise) that are harder to source, especially in the cases where increased Supply Chain volatility have thrown a wrench in their “Just In Time” approach. The challenge is balancing reduced material delays with rising inventory levels and longer Days of Inventory.

To help address these challenges, Supply Chain Insights makes a few recommendations that I think are spot on. Suppliers, in particular of materials that are sole sourced, play such a large and important role in the A&D supply chain, it’s vital that there be a focus on supplier collaboration and communication at every level.  A big part of this is increasing visibility into the supply chains to ensure they can anticipate and plan for potential disruptions. Focusing in these areas will help reduce supply chain risk, and make A&D companies better prepared to deal with inevitable disruptions when they do occur.

Thanks to Metrics That Matter, not only did I get some valuable A&D insights but it took my mind off of sitting in row 32 on a delayed flight out of Newark. The report covers a lot more ground than what I’ve discussed here, so feel free to download a full copy of Supply Chain Metrics That Matter: A Focus on Aerospace & Defense report here. (No registration required.)

Posted in Best practices, Demand management, General News, Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management