The Strategic Role of Human Collaboration in Supply Chain Management

The Strategic Role of Human Collaboration in Supply Chain Management

Kenneth Saban (Duquesne University, USA) and John Mawhinney (Duquesne University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/jisscm.2010092903
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Abstract

Supply chain performance is often equated with acquiring the best technology or process. However, current studies suggest that supply chain performance also requires human collaboration. To change conventional thinking, this paper proposes a holistic approach to supply chain management (SCM), clarifies the forces that facilitate human collaboration, and identifies the steps management can take to create a more collaborative network.
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Supply Chain Challenges

There are a number of challenges with transforming today’s supply chain. Foremost is the trap of becoming more enamored with the technology than its implementation (Mills, Schmitz, and Frizelle, 2004). As one executive was quoted as saying “too often, (CIOs) hear about a new technology and think ‘we have to have one of those’ without stopping to think about whether or not this is true” (Gain, 2005). Information systems and technology are critical enablers of many best in class SCM practices. However, selecting enablers without a clear vision of business goals and understanding of the role that people play makes any decision a risky proposition.

Bowersox, Closs and Drayer (2005) contend that lasting supply chain performance can only be achieved when an organization develops an integrated approach to supply chain management. A good example is IBM. After deciding to transform the company into an adaptive organization that could profitably respond to customer needs, Sam Palmisano, CEO, developed a multi-dimensional supply chain transformation program shaped by five insights:

  • 1.

    Cultural transformation access when leaders walk the talk.

  • 2.

    CEO backing and trust are keys to sustained cross-unit integration.

  • 3.

    Customer focus must permeate end-to-end supply chain processes.

  • 4.

    Employees must be measured and rewarded for end-to-end efforts.

  • 5.

    Technology deployment must be backed by sound IT governance.

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