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December 14, 2017
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Survey: Cost, IT, strategy, transportation are top concerns for supply chain managers

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The Q1 edition of the "Supply Chain Heartbeat" survey found that some supply chain basics are "top of mind" for supply chain executives.

Each quarter, the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals (CSCMP) Research Strategies Committee (RSC) polls a sample of supply chain executives and senior leaders within the CSCMP membership on the key trends and relevant topics impacting their supply chains. The resulting report, "Supply Chain Heartbeat," identifies what is "top of mind" for supply chain executives and highlights common and/or changing themes that are affecting members' organizations.

A total of 60 supply chain experts across various industries provided responses for the Q1/2014 survey. Heartbeat panelists consistently identified four top concerns in Q1:

  • Cost
  • Information technology/management
  • Supply chain strategy
  • Inbound/outbound transportation

For the first time in six quarters, concern about meeting customer requirements was not the top issue for managers. In fact, this issue dropped to seventh place in Q1. Many respondents indicated that although customers are always of utmost importance, the issues ranked in this quarter's "top four" are making it increasingly difficult to serve customers effectively. Here are more details about those issues:

Continued cost pressure was a top concern for the fifth consecutive quarter. Respondents' worries seem to revolve primarily around raw material and commodity prices, as well transportation and equipment costs.

Information technology/information management re-emerged in the top four for the first time in three quarters. Respondents seem to be grappling with data availability and integrity. This is especially an issue for those struggling with multiple (and incompatible) systems. Learning how to leverage big data to support customer requirements also emerged for the first time in the commentaries.

Supply chain strategy remained a top four concern again this quarter. Interestingly, the continued focus on strategy is linked to companies' technology issues. Some respondents report that advances in IT systems and capabilities are enabling and sometimes requiring the development of new supply chain strategies.

Inbound/outbound transportation appeared for the first time among the top concerns expressed by respondents. While the winter weather that plagued supply chains in North America earlier this year caused significant disruptions in transportation service, issues related to carrier capacity and the U.S. national transportation infrastructure are making this a top concern for many supply chain managers. Much of the concern around transportation stemmed from issues relating to companies' abilities to meet ongoing customer requirements.

The full "Supply Chain Heartbeat" report is available free to CSCMP members. To learn more about this and other CSCMP research and professional resources, click here.

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