UT Study Seeks to Redefine Supply Chain Integration

November 13, 2018


Integrating a supply chain under one executive can drive value but may come with its own challenges. Solutions may be found in redefining the concept of supply chain integration, which is what the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville’s Haslam College of Business tackles in its latest white paper.

In the course of its research, the GSCI team uncovered more than 100 best practices and culled them down to eight actionable ones. Supply Chain Integration Strategy: Best Practices provides details on the implementation of each along with examples of success stories. The study seeks to answer the question “Is end-to-end supply chain integration the right strategy for your business?” It details why leadership is critical to success in this endeavor at any level and is supplemented with an integration tool kit.

“Integrated structures are an important step in the right direction, but driving a sustained competitive advantage requires a data-based approach towards end-to-end integration of the supply chain, and that’s what this paper seeks to redefine,” said Mike Burnette, associate director of the Global Supply Chain Institute and an author of the study.

Burnette points out that the paper, which contains anonymized data from 16 leading companies, focuses on the eight best practices common to success in supply chain. These include simplification, streamlining, and integration, as well as the education of holistic supply chain leaders.

“True integration work is complicated,” says Burnette. “Not all companies can succeed at it, and we have to ask ourselves if leadership is truly committed to increasing the supply chain’s capability in the long term. Mapping a supply chain system requires substantial resources.”

Maine Pointe, a global supply chain and operations consulting firm, sponsored the white paper and provides a case study about work it did for an agricultural and distribution business using its trademarked Total Value Optimization approach. Steve Bowen, chairman and CEO of the company, says the approach is quickly becoming key in delivering value throughout the end-to-end supply chain.

“We were able to take a more holistic approach to the buy-make-move-fulfill supply chain and deliver the greatest value at the lowest cost to this business,” Bowen says.

Supply Chain Integration Strategy: Best Practices is the second white paper in the GSCI’s Supply Chain Strategies Series. Additional authors include Dan Pellathy of Grand Valley State University in Grand Rapids, Michigan, and Scott Meline of Partner Meline Consulting LLC.

Supply Chain Integration Strategy: Best Practices can be downloaded from the Global Supply Chain Institute website.

Gerhard Schneibel (gschneib@utk.edu, 865-974-2894)