Supply Chain Management
Donald Waters
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Chapter 4 - Implementing the strategies

 

4.1 What exactly is meant by ‘implementing the logistics strategy’?
This includes all of the activities that move from the broad and intangible ideas in the strategy down to actually doing the work.  It takes logistics from ‘providing customer service’ to having a lorry deliver a product. 
 
4.2 It is often more difficult to implement a logistics strategy that to design one, so most logistics plan fail in the practice rather than the theory.  What exactly does this mean – and is it necessarily true? 
This essentially means that it is easier to think about things and plan them than to actually do them!  Most advice, research, consulting, and work in general discusses the design of good strategies, and relatively little work has been done on implementation.  Yet experience suggests that firms are much more likely to fail in the implementation of their strategies than in the original design.
 
4.3 What can an organisation do to improve the implementation of its logistics strategy?
Advice for this is given in the chapter.
 
4.4 What exactly is a logistics infrastructure?
Following the definition in the chapter, a logistics infrastructure consists of the organisational structure and the systems, human resources, culture and resources to support it.  It contains the parts of the organisation within which logistics works.
 
4.5 Apart from showing who reports to whom, what else does an organisational structure show?
It shows everyone’s roles, responsibilities, the way that work is organised within a firm, and so on.
 
4.6 What determines the best shape for a supply chain?
There is generally no ‘best’ shape for a supply chain, and there can be several ways of finding a good balance between competing objectives.  The main consideration, of course, is what the supply chain is trying to achieve.  The ‘best’ shape comes closest to achieves all of the aims.
 
4.7 When a company outsources logistics it loses control over the operations, employs someone who is unfamiliar with the work of the organisation and has completely different aims and culture, and pays enough to give the third party provider a healthy profit.  Does this seem like a sensible move?
Although outsourcing can bring many benefits (described in the book) it also brings problems.  Because of the points mentioned, and others, outsourcing is not always a sensible move.
 
4.8 What sets the capacity of a supply chain?
The amount of throughput that can be achieved at the constraining bottleneck in the chain.  In practice it is often difficult to find the capacity of a chain.
 
4.9 Supply chains are not usually designed from scratch, but evolve over time.  Does this create any particular problems? 
Usually this is good news, as chains can be adjusted by a series of incremental improvements (which bring the benefits described in the chapter).  Of course, this also brings the weaknesses – and in particular the small changes might mean that firms avoid making radical changes when they are needed.
 
4.10 Re-engineering might be attractive in principle, but in reality it is difficult, expensive, risky – and unlikely to get the expected benefits.  If this is true, why do organisations still consider radical changes?
Because re-engineering often fails it does not necessarily mean that it always fails – and because re-engineering is not always the best approach, it does not mean that it is never the right approach.  Sometimes supply chains need radical overhaul of the type suggested by BPR.


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