Emerald Group Publishing Limited
Copyright © 2004, Emerald Group Publishing Limited
The editorial staff of Benchmarking: An International Journal is committed to helping those working at a senior level in industry, the public sector, consultancy, or academic institutions, to stay current on developments in the areas of quality, technology and benchmarking. The focus of the journal is on “topics that have substantial management content, rather than being primarily technical in nature.” The Internet editorials will center on sites with a similar focus. I examine sites that I feel will be of interest to BIJ readers and report my findings. I attempt to be fair and objective in the presentation of my findings. This editorial focuses on supply chain management (SCM).
Increased competition, both domestic and global, has encouraged firms to examine new ways to gain competitive advantage. SCM is one particularly important development that really caught on with manufacturers in the 1990s. Since it has spread to some non-manufacturing operations wherein supply chains are relevant and important. SCM has elevated purchasing and logistics to the levels of manufacturing and marketing and sparked a re-examination of the appropriate relationship between manufacturing or non-manufacturing operations and the various supply functions. Effective SCM has become an integral part of strategy for manufacturers and for some types of non-manufacturing operations as well. Retailers, for instance, purchase products for resale, thus the prices they pay for those products figure prominently in their profit equations. Furthermore, on time delivery of products influences a retailer's ability to provide purchased inventory items in the form of products to customers in a timely fashion. Quality is of course a concern for manufacturing and non-manufacturing operations. As with manufacturers, effective SCM can help wholesalers and retailers keep costs down, assure reliable delivery and high quality, and thus better meet the needs of their own customers. Well coordinated, timely, low-cost, reliable transportation and delivery of quality inputs is important whether they are to be used as inputs in a manufacturing process or to be resold to the customers of retailers and wholesalers. Effective SCM continues to be important and managers must build and manage supply chains effectively to compete in an increasingly complex and global business environment. This editorial is devoted to SCM and more specifically to benchmarking SCM. An earlier BIJ Internet editorial on SCM examined a small number of sites, but this one will examine numerous sites devoted to SCM with emphasis on those containing materials useful in benchmarking SCM performance.
As has been the case for my more recent editorials, I used Google as my search engine. It remains the most popular search engine on the Web and it is my own personal favorite because of its ease of use and search efficiency. I will provide a brief overview of many potentially useful sites. SCM has expanded in scope over time, becoming a somewhat broad topic. Many SCM related sites can be found on the Web, but my primary objective in preparing for this editorial was to identify sites devoted to SCM benchmarking, or housing materials useful in benchmarking SCM. The key word searches conducted with Google included the following: “Benchmarking Supply Chain Management,” “Supply Chain Management Performance Measurement,” “Best Practice in Supply Chain Management,” and simply “Supply Chain Management.” I could not possibly include all the sites examined, but have included a good cross section thereof. It is rare to find a site narrowly focused only on SCM benchmarking. Most often sites turned up in searches, like the ones I conducted, are devoted to the broader topic of SCM but contain some information or tools relevant and useful in benchmarking SCM performance. As always, some of the featured sites are those of for-profit enterprises. My inclusion of those sites should not be considered an endorsement of the goods or services of those entities.
CIO magazine is not new to BIJ editorials. The hard-copy magazine and the e-zine version provide useful perspectives and research on a variety of topics relevant to information managers and other managers as well. The CIO.com site is quite popular as evidenced by the nearly 500,000 visitors each month. Of particular interest for this editorial on SCM benchmarking is the CIO Supply Chain Management Research Center. Topics of interest (categories of links) in the SCM Research Center include Planning and Strategy, Technology, Procurement, Fulfillment, ROI, Case Studies, CIO radio, Q&A, Books, Events and Newsletters. Last, but certainly not least, is the Metrics link. It is the Metrics link that is probably most valuable for those with an interest in benchmarking SCM. On the Metrics link page one will find report after report (from CIO Magazine) pertaining to SCM metrics. Some address, specifically, metrics for measuring SCM performance, while others address the topic more generally. While CIO.com offers much variety and coverage of topics not directly related to SCM, the SCM research center makes it worth a look by those interested in SCM performance measurement.
The supply chain management resource Webpagehttp://www.createcom.8m.com/
The property of Createcom Solutions, a consulting business, the SCM Resource Webpage was created to provide links to SCM related topics, and promote the understanding of what is meant by “Supply Chain Management.” The key thing the site has to offer is links, and they are numerous. The links are grouped into logical categories and cover many diverse areas related to SCM, but for those interested in SCM benchmarking, the links of greatest value can be found under the category “Supply Chain-Purchasing-Logistics-Electronic Commerce”. Within that category, the visitor will find links to various SCM forums, logistics sites, e-commerce sites, purchasing sites and more. As noted, the strength of this site is the links – there is simply not much else on the site. SCM involves purchasing, logistics, e-commerce and more; therefore, links to sites in these areas can be helpful in exploring best practice and performance metrics useful in SCM benchmarking.
The Performance Measurement Group, LLChttp://www.pmgbenchmarking.com/
The Performance Measurement Group, LLC is a consulting firm formed in 1998 to offer a pioneering benchmarking service in core business process areas. The benchmarking services of PMG are provided online and based on data it advertises as the “most in depth and complete set of data available in the market”. Of particular interest for this editorial is the SCM benchmarking information available on the site. While full access would only be available to clients, anyone can see the lists of benchmarks that PMG uses to measure SCM performance. There is a “Resources” link on the PMG homepage that list a number of resources available on the site. Among the useful links appearing on the list are the “Research” link and the “Benchmarking Pulse” link. Each accesses a page with links to articles, Webcasts, etc., pertaining to benchmarking SCM. The “Product Info” link on the homepage contains a link called “Metrics”. That link accesses a page listing many potentially useful SCM performance metrics divided into categories. Metric categories include “On-Time Delivery”, “Order Fulfillment Lead Time”, “Total Supply Chain Management Costs”, “Cash to Cash Cycle Time”, “Forecast Accuracy”, “Return”, and “Financial Metrics”. Each category contains relevant metrics for the category. The statistics are not viewable, but one can get a good feel for the types of metrics used – some of which are performance measures used in business for a long time. Just the list of SCM benchmarks makes this site worth a visit.
The Supply Chain Councilhttp://www.supply-chain.org/
The supply chain council (SCC) was organized 1996 and now has close to 1,000 corporate members worldwide. The membership is comprised largely of practitioners from many industries, including manufacturers, services, distributors and retailers. The site offers something for non-member visitors (basically enough to make one curious), but far more to members. Membership entitles one to access research (case studies in particular) and other materials that seem potentially useful for benchmarking SCM performance. Membership also provides one with access to other members, which would seem valuable for seeking assistance with benchmarking SCM. The case studies looked particularly interesting – I could not read them, but the titles identified the companies studied. Access to the case studies and reports, as well as access to other SCC members, could provide useful information and assistance for SCM benchmarking. Educational materials, Webcasts, and more are available to members. In short, there is not much available on this site for free, but membership and the privileges thereof, seem to offer some promise for those interested in SCM generally and benchmarking SCM specifically. Membership fees vary, with lower rates offered to SMEs and non-profits. Are the benefits worth the cost? Examine the site and decide for yourself.
Supply Chain Todayhttp://www.supplychaintoday.com/
This site was the idea of a young Arizona State University MBA graduate – its owner. This young man set out to deliver current and accurate information to the business community so managers could do their research efficiently, allowing more time for strategic issues. He did that, and now hopes to make his site the “#1 supply chain destination on the Web creating a business community that fosters information sharing”. This site is a free alternative for information that is often only available from consultants for a fee. Among the many resources available on the SCT site are open discussions, research (whitepapers, articles, etc.), metrics, tools, news, Jobs and more. Topical areas of interest on the site are logistics, e-business, procurement, and of course supply chains. The site is absolutely loaded with links to useful information, and those links are well organized by the aforementioned categories and more. The “Toolbox” link accesses a page loaded with formulas and links to many useful SCM related tools. A “supply chain refresher” link accesses a page containing explanations of SCM terminology. That is just the “tip” of this information “iceberg”. It is no understatement to say that this site is a must see for those interested in SCM benchmarking. Most who give it a look will likely add it to the favorites list of their browser.
This site is owned by Keller International Publishing, LLC, supplychainbrain.com is described by its owners as “the nerve center for today's supply-chain news, developments and innovative thinking”. The site is best described as a reading center, as it is loaded with articles about various aspects of SCM, including SCM performance and related issues. The SCB library is divided into categories like case studies, supply-chain trends, SCM technology, logistics/transportation and more. Each category link accesses a page loaded with links to current reads on SCM related topics. In addition to the library, one will find many good articles (short and long) under the headings of “Newsletters”, “Online Magazines”, and “SCM Research”. Under “Directories,” one will find links pointing to many company sites, some of which are consulting firms, while others are firms providing SCM related services like logistics and transportation management. Several newsletters are also accessible via the SCB site. As noted initially, this is a good site for reading materials, so if that is what you seek, then the SCB site is well worth a visit.
Aberdeen Group's SupplyChainAccesshttp://supplychain.aberdeen.com/
The Aberdeen Group is a consultancy offering assistance with SCM and more. Their site, while designed primarily to support and encourage visitors to use their services, does have some useful material for the casual visitor. One can find reports and articles that provide some insight into the process of SCM benchmarking and some ideas about what could or should be benchmarked. As an example of what can be found on the site, at the time of my visit the current report (free access available) was entitled “The Procurement Outsourcing Benchmark Report”. A summary appears on HTML, but the full report was downloadable for free. It is noteworthy that registration was required before downloading reports, but the form takes less than 5min to complete. Other similarly interesting, benchmarking SCM related reports can be downloaded for free of cost. The site offers good reading material (the reports, study descriptions, and a newsletter) for those interested in SCM benchmarking. A “Resource” link found on the homepage accesses a page with links to the sites of many industry associations, as well as other specialized sites that might be of interest to those involved in benchmarking SCM performance. The reports themselves make this site worth a visit.
Supply Chain Management: An International Journalhttp://ariel.emeraldinsight.com/vl=1462537/cl=85/nw=1/rpsv/scm.htm
This is a journal site and does not support full online access to articles, but it does allow visitors to browse journal contents in search of articles of interest in SCM. A handful of sample articles are available for download in PDF format. This is a relatively new journal and not only a good source of information on SCM, but a good outlet for SCM researchers. SCM is targeted at academics and practitioners and promotes the exchange of knowledge, experience and new ideas between researchers and practitioners to encourage a multi-disciplinary and cross-functional approach to solving problems and exploiting opportunities associated with extended supply chains.
This is another consulting site, but has much good reading material available for free of cost. Some downloads require registration, but it is free and does not take long. One can sign up for a free newsletter if one so desires. Tompkins Associates provides total supply chain solutions to clients around the globe, having worked with over 500 companies on over 3,000 supply chain initiatives. Supply chain performance in the areas of inventory, procurement, manufacturing, logistics, warehousing are company specialties and materials about these topics are available in the form of reports, white papers and more. The publications link found on the navigation bar of the homepage will take visitors to a page with links (found in navigation bar on left of page) to pages containing links to the articles and whitepapers. The “Solutions” link, also found on the homepage navigation bar, connects to a page which more links to articles and reports (found in small table with title of “Resources”). In short, while it is a consultancy site, the Tompkins Associates site offers much free reading material. The reads alone make this site worth a visit for one interested in SCM benchmarking and best practice.
A Montgomery Research site, ASCET stands for achieving supply chain excellence through technology. It is an information rich site, where visitors can examine a wide variety of SCM related reports and articles. Membership is free and recommended – membership entitles one to access to all reading material. The membership form takes little time to fill out. The site is searchable, making one's quest for reading materials quick and easy. A search on “benchmarking” produced 24 hits. Some very interesting and current articles appeared on that hit list. The homepage is relatively well organized with many links. Under the Resources and Links heading on the left navigation bar one will find links to pages with additional reading materials (see “Research” link) as well as links to other sites of interest. Reading materials can be found by simply browsing through links, but the search is faster. The plethora of reading materials available on the ASCET site makes it well worth a visit. This site is another which makes one with an interest in SCM likely to add to his/her favorites list. I highly recommend this site.
The Stanford Global Supply Chain Management Forumhttp://www.stanford.edu/group/scforum/
The SGSCM Forum “brings faculty and students from different schools, departments and disciplines together to work on research projects”. The students work on projects that focus on problems like those experienced by participating companies. Students, in some instances working with industry researchers, conduct SCM related theoretical and model based research, empirical research, and detailed field-based studies. Special emphasis is placed on issues pertaining to global supply chains. Much of the material on the site was produced through the efforts of students. Membership is required to access much of the research. If you want to join the forum, and gain access to the research, it will only requires an annual investment of $35,000. I can only hope that the research is very good, since that is a bit pricey. I did not join in order to examine the research. It is obvious that memberships provide the forum with money to support itself and the research of its students. That is a good thing, but the general public will not likely see the research, except that which ends up in scholarly journals or trade publications. In short, you need not visit this site looking for reading materials. Interested companies or other educational institutions that might wish to participate in the forum may find the site worth the visit.
Supply Chain Management Reviewhttp://www.manufacturing.net/scm/
SCMR is an executive-level publication dedicated to the art and science of moving goods to market. Readers include senior managers, educators, consultants and more who are interested in current SCM trends. SCMR covers a wide range of SCM issues. On the SCMR site one will find well written and well researched editorials and articles. Be forewarned that not all articles from the current issue of SCMR are available on the Web, but articles from past issues are accessible if one follows the “Back Issues” link on the left navigation bar. The “Supplements” link also accesses a page with links to various articles (they are available in PDF format). Another valuable feature of this site is access to Web resources – there are many links to SCM related resources on the Web. If one follows the “Associations” link on the left navigation bar, one will find a page loaded with links to various organizations/associations with a Web presence. The link list is alphabetized and there are many, many links to examine. The search feature that is available on the site makes finding articles of interest easy and fast. A search on benchmarking produced a long list of links to articles pertaining to benchmarking SCM, some of which were SCMR articles, while some were available from other sources. The SCMR site is a good site to visit. Not only does it contain a wealth of reading material on SCM issues, the many links are a valuable resource for those interested in SCM. In short, if you are interested in SCM, this is a good site to visit and a good site to add to one's favorites list.
The focus of BIJ is on “topics that have substantial management content, rather than being primarily technical in nature.” The content of this Internet editorial is consistent with that focus. SCM has become very important to the success of organizations in domestic and global business settings. While a past BIJ editorial addressed SCM, it was limited to only four sites – limited because of the greater depth of each site review. This editorial highlighted 12 sites pertaining to SCM. Each of the 12 sites was examined in developing a brief overview of each and its offering. Hopefully, BIJ readers interested in SCM will find these sites to be valuable in their quest for resources pertaining to SCM generally, and benchmarking SCM specifically.
I strive to prepare editorials that best meet the needs of BIJ readers. Your views are important to me and will influence the format and content of future editorials. Any assistance you can provide to help me achieve that goal is appreciated. If you have a site or know of a site that you would like to see featured in future editorials, or you have an idea for an editorial (specific area of benchmarking), please e-mail me your suggestions. Send your comments and suggestions to Ronald McGaughey at email@example.com
Ronald E. McGaugheyInternet Editor