Louis Cheung, Head of Supply Chain Management, Bostik, shared his thoughts on what it takes to drive innovation and growth across the supply chain in a Fireside Chat with Michael Hewitt, Associate Professor, Director of Supply Chain Management, Loyola University of Chicago, at the 2016 Chief Financial Officer Leadership Forum: Fall Event in Chicago on Nov. 17.
During the chat, “Partnering for Innovation and Growth,” Cheung explored several key supply chain management topics, including:
1. The Evolution of Supply Chain Management
Although supply chain management has played a key role in businesses worldwide for many years, the definition of supply chain management varies among organizations across all industries.
In the past, supply chain management was viewed as an operational role within organizations of all sizes, Cheung pointed out. Now, supply chain management represents a strategic role in many organizations, which has helped supply chain managers become influencers who can help their respective organizations drive meaningful business enhancements day after day.
“[Supply chain management] depends on the company and the business [in which it operates],” Cheung noted. “In terms of the role and responsibility of supply chain management, there has been a major shift from an operator-type function to more of a strategic business partner role.”
2. How Supply Chain Performance Impacts an Organization’s Financial Performance
Defining the link between supply chain performance and an organization’s financial performance can be difficult.
“I think that everything we do in the supply chain will directly or indirectly affect the financial performance of the company.”
Fortunately, data is available that empowers supply chain managers to understand how various processes support a business’ growth. And with the ability to mine and evaluate data, supply chain managers can determine the best ways to help a company accomplish its immediate and long-term goals.
“I think that everything we do in the supply chain will directly or indirectly affect the financial performance of the company,” Cheung said.
3. The Role of the Supply Chain in Today’s Organizations
For supply chain managers, it is no longer sufficient to focus on completing only a single set of tasks.
Instead, supply chain managers must be able to collaborate with multiple departments and provide support in a broad array of areas. By doing so, supply chain managers can maximize the resources at their disposal and ensure a company is better equipped to grow both now and in the future.
“[Supply chain management] covers a wide range of processes, from customer service to planning, purchasing and logistics,” Cheung stated.
4. How the Supply Chain Drives Innovation
Innovation is a must for today’s supply chain managers, and for good reason.
If supply chain managers drive innovation consistently, they may be able to discover unique ways to conserve both time and resources. Also, supply chain managers could leverage distinct tools that can help an organization for years to come.
“If we are able to get instant visibility into what we have and how much we have in any facility … that information is a powerful tool for our salesforce.”
At Bostik, supply chain managers are constantly searching for innovative ways to serve the business’ customers, Cheung said. This focus has led the company’s supply chain managers to search for real-time visibility tools that may help the business in a number of ways.
“To me, innovate means to be the first here,” Cheung said. “If we are able to get instant visibility into what we have and how much we have in any facility … that information is a powerful tool for our salesforce.”
Ultimately, real-time supply chain visibility could make a world of difference for Bostik, Cheung noted.
With the ability to understand manage its supply chain from any location, at any time, the business could gain a competitive advantage over its rivals. In addition, the business will be better equipped to serve its customers – something that could help the company extend its global reach and grow its revenue.
5. Key Supply Chain Management Challenges
Supply chain management rarely, if ever, is simple, regardless of a business, its size or its industry. However, leveraging an end-to-end perspective may help supply chain managers optimize the value of their operations.
Understanding all aspects of the supply chain ensures supply chain managers can identify and address problems before they escalate. Also, with an end-to-end perspective, supply chain managers can gain unparalleled visibility into the supply chain and reap the benefits of end-to-end redundancy.
“Disrupting the supply chain is extremely important to us,” Cheung noted. “As a result, we have to design end-to-end redundancy into our supply chain.”
Bostik works with its partners to ensure they have redundancy in their operations as well, Cheung said. This redundancy enables Bostik to find out why a problem may arise in the supply chain , Cheung stated, and how it impacts all aspects of the supply chain.
Furthermore, redundancy could prove to be a time- and resource-saver for companies, ensuring supply chain managers can develop effective processes and protocols to maximize supply chain productivity.
Louis Cheung heads up the Supply Chain Organization of Bostik Inc., a division of the French-based chemical company called Arkema. Bostik Inc. is one of the top 3 global adhesive companies headquartered in Wisconsin. Louis has more than 28 years of global experience in Manufacturing, Supply Chain, and Engineering across multiple industries. In addition to his three master degrees in Chemical Engineering, Biomedical Engineering and Electrical Engineering, Louis has an MBA from Purdue University and is a graduate of the Advanced Management Program at the University of Chicago. He is also a certified Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, CPIM from APICS, and CPSM from ISM. On the personal front, Louis currently lives in “sunny” Wisconsin. He came to the USA 29 hours after he turned 18 years old, went to school, got married, got a job, and here he is enjoying his empty nest with his wife Cathy. None of their four children are married yet because they are having too much fun with their careers in high tech and medicine. Louis’ next three milestones in life are to become a grandfather, retire, and then teach in a university.
Dr. Hewitt is an Associate Professor in the Information Systems and Supply Chain Management Department in the Quinlan School of Business at Loyola University Chicago. His research includes developing quantitative models of decisions found in the transportation and supply chain management domains, particularly in freight transportation and home delivery. His work has assisted the decision-making of companies such as Exxon Mobil, Saia Motor Freight and Yellow Roadway. He has expanded his area of expertise to include workforce planning, including working on multi-disciplinary projects at the intersection of operations management and cognitive psychology. His research has been funded by agencies such as the National Science Foundation, the Material Handling Institute, and the New York State Health Foundation. Before entering the PhD program at Georgia Tech, Dr. Hewitt worked as a software engineer, contributing to the development of software to support consumer set-top boxes and content delivery to LED signs in mass transit stations.