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Combating Supply Chain Complexity

  • APICS staff
May/June 2017

The latest report from the Michigan State University (MSU) and APICS joint research initiative Supply Chain Management: Beyond the Horizon addresses the increased complexity of today’s supply chain flow. “Managing the Complexity Paradigm” was written following interviews in which supply chain leaders cited complexity as the top challenge they face. The report discusses managing complexity that can increase cost but also has the potential to increase revenue.

For this report, APICS and MSU gathered data via comprehensive interviews with 50 global supply chain firms. The research found that constantly growing amounts of products, customers, channels, and geographies are leading to increased complexity. The four primary sources are summarized as customer accommodation, operations globalization, supplier complexity, and general business and supply chain trends.

The researchers also asked study participants how they were tackling complexity in the supply chain flow. Finding ways to avoid and preemptively mitigate complexity was the leading strategy reported, followed by relying upon collaborative partnerships, integrating modern information technology, engaging leadership, and establishing more flexible operations, in no particular order. For more information about managing complexity in the supply chain, read the full report at managing-the-complexity-paradigm.

Supply Chain Management: Beyond the Horizon is a multi-year research project conducted by MSU’s Eli Broad School of Business and supported by the APICS Supply Chain Council and the John H. McConnell Chair in Business Administration at MSU.

Digital Exclusive:
To see an infographic about the causes of complexity and possible solutions, check out the APICS magazine tablet app. To download the app, search for “APICS mag” in the App Store or Google Play.

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