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Supply Chains: A Manager's Guide [Paperback]

David A. Taylor
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Oct. 4 2003
During the past twenty years, companies have reduced the time and cost of the manufacturing process. Now, they are attempting to streamline their supply chains in the same way, but they are struggling with this initiative. This shift in focus is quickly changing the nature of business competition. The battle is no longer company vs. company, it's supply chain vs. supply chain. The formula for winning this new battle is assembling a killer supply chain -- the one that, like those of Dell and WalMart, will let them deliver products to their customers faster, better, and cheaper than anyone else. Written by best-selling author David A. Taylor, this is a guide to understanding and solving the complex problems of supply chain management. Using Taylor's signature fast-track summaries, graphics, sidebars, and additional content and exercises on the CD-ROM and Web site, readers will easily grasp the critical insights into this demanding subject, and walk away knowing just what they need to know in order to contribute effectively to their company's supply chain success.

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From the Inside Flap

In May 2001, Nike announced that it had lost sales in the preceding quarter because of problems in its supply chain. The amount of income lost was impressive: a cool $100 million. Three months later, Cisco Systems announced that it was writing down unusable inventory due to some confusion in its supply chain. The amount of its write-down was even more impressive: $2.2 billion. Isolated incidents? Only in terms of magnitude--supply chain failures are becoming increasingly common, and they are costing companies dearly. In addition to their impact on profits, problems in the supply chain have a devastating effect on stock prices, causing an average loss of $350 million in shareholder value with each reported incident. That's a steep price to pay for a single mistake.

The flip side of this coin is that, as Dell and Wal-Mart demonstrate every day, getting the supply chain right can yield a tremendous competitive advantage, allowing new players to overthrow entrenched industry leaders. Why is the supply chain so important to success? Because it's the new frontier of business. Modern manufacturing has driven most of the excess time and cost out of the production process, so there is little advantage to be gained on the shop floor. But supply chains are still notoriously wasteful and error-prone, and they offer huge opportunities for gaining competitive advantage. The result is a fundamental shift in the nature of competition. The fight for market dominance is no longer a battle between rival companies. The new competition is supply chain vs. supply chain.

What makes this new competition so challenging is the level of cooperation it requires. To forge winning teams, companies have to tear down the barriers between the functional silos within their organizations, and they have to replace adversarial supplier relationships with a win-win collaboration across the chain. Bringing about this level of cooperation isn't easy, but the best companies are already doing it, and they're starting to distance themselves from the rest of the pack.

As a by-product of this new competition, supply chain management has escalated from a support function to a core competence that cuts across the entire company. Managing the chain can no longer be left to specialists; in the new competition, the supply chain is every manager's business. If your company touches a physical product as it moves toward the market, it's part of a supply chain, and it will succeed in the new competition only if you and your fellow managers understand how to make the chain as efficient and effective as it can be.

This understanding can be hard to come by because supply chain management is a deep and technical subject. Most books on supply chains offer either simplistic formulas for success, in which a single solution fits every problem, or the kind of detailed analysis that only a practitioner could love. This book is my attempt to provide the balanced overview you need, giving you enough information to make intelligent decisions without dragging you into a morass of detail. Think of it as your playbook for the new competition.

The book is organized into five parts of three chapters each, as shown in Figure I. Part I lays out the business challenge, Part II describes the tools you need to meet this challenge, and the remaining parts explain supply chain management at three levels: operations, planning, and design. These last three parts all have the same structure, with one chapter each on demand, supply, and performance. This common structure provides a unique nine-chapter matrix for understanding and solving supply chain problems. At the back of the book, you'll find sources for the facts cited in the text, some suggested readings, and a glossary of common terms.

I assume you're busy and don't have a lot of time for reading, so I use something I call the fast track to help you absorb the material quickly. As you can see from this page, the fast track summarizes the key point of every paragraph. This is the fifth book I've written using this technique since I developed it 15 years ago, and I continue to use it because loyal readers all over the world have threatened to shoot me if I don't. In fact, many managers have told me that the best thing about my books is they don't actually have to read them--they get everything they need by skimming the fast track and looking at the drawings. I'm never sure whether to be flattered or offended by this observation, but there it is.

Feel free to jump around in the book. Part I is an executive briefing on chain-based competition; if all you need is the big picture, here it is. Part II is an introduction to supply chain tools; depending on your needs, you can study it, skim it, or skip it. The matrix organization of the remaining parts allows you to tackle the material in slices, reading Part IV to learn about planning, say, or Chapters 7, 10, and 13 for a tour of demand management.

Like all technical disciplines, supply chain management has developed jargon to help practitioners communicate with each other and keep outsiders at bay. To ease your way into the subject, I use specialized terms only as necessary and keep abbreviations to a minimum. But I also want to give you a working vocabulary in the subject, so I do introduce the appropriate terms as they come up, setting them in bold type and defining them in the glossary.

An excellent way to further your understanding of supply chains is to experience them directly using simulation models of the sort described in this book.The site also offers in-depth discussions of advanced topics, reviews of books about supply chains, and links to software vendors, service providers, and other online resources. You can also find my current e-mail address there if you would like to drop me a note about the book or ask me a question about supply chains.

David A. Taylor, Ph.D.
San Mateo, California
May 2003



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From the Back Cover

“An excellent summary of the state of supply chain management going into the twenty-first century. Explains the essential concepts clearly and offers practical, down-to-earth advice for making supply chains more efficient and adaptive. Truly a survival guide for executives as they struggle to cope with the increasing competition between supply chains.”

     —Christian Knoll, Vice President of Global Supply Chain Management, SAP AG

“Through real-world case studies and graphic illustrations, David Taylor clearly demonstrates the bottom-line benefits of managing the supply chain effectively. Although the book is written for managers, I recommend it for everyone from the executive suite to the shipping floor because they all have to work together to master the supply chain. But beware—you can expect many passionate employees demanding improvements in your company’s supply chain after reading this book!”

     —David Myers, President, WinfoSoft Inc., Former Board Member of Supply Chain Council

“A comprehensive, thoroughly researched, and well-designed book that gives managers the information they need in a highly readable form. I am already starting to use the techniques in this book to improve our international distribution system.”

     —Jim Muller, Vice President of Produce Sales, SoFresh Produce

“Supply chain management is a deceptively deep subject. Simple business practices combine to form complex systems that seem to defy rational analysis: Companies that form trading partnerships continue to compete despite their best efforts to cooperate; small variations in consumer buying create devastating swings in upstream demand, and so on. In his trademark fashion, Taylor clearly reveals the hidden logic at work in your supply chain and gives you the practical tools you need to make better management decisions. A must-read for every manager who affects a supply chain, and in today's marketplace there are few managers who are exempt from this requirement.”

     —Adrian J. Bowles, Ph.D., President, CoSource.net

“David Taylor has done it again. With his new book, David makes supply chain management easy to grasp for the working manager, just as he did with his earlier guides to business technology. If you work for a company that is part of a supply chain, you need this book.”

     —Dirk Riehle, Ph.D.

“David Taylor has done a masterful job of defining the core issues in supply chain management without getting trapped in the quicksand of jargon. This concise book is well written, highly informative, and easy to read.”

     —Marcia Robinson, President, E-Business Strategies, author of Services Blueprint: Roadmap

“Taylor has done a tremendous job of giving readers an intuitive grasp of a complicated subject. If you’re new to supply chains, this book will give you an invaluable map of the territory. If you're already among the initiated, it will crystallize your insights and help you make better decisions. In either case, you can only come out ahead by reading this book.”

     —Kevin Dick, Founder of Kevin Dick Associates, author of XML: A Manager’s Guide

“My motto for compressing data is ‘squeeze it til it gags.’ In the current business climate, that’s what you have to do to costs, and Taylor shows you many ways to squeeze costs out of your supply chain. He also writes with the same economy: This book contains exactly what you need to manage your supply chain effectively. Nothing is missing, and nothing is extra.”

     —Charles Ashbacher, President, Charles Ashbacher Technologies

Today's fiercest business battles are taking place between competitors' supply chains, with victory dependent on finding a way to deliver products to customers more quickly and efficiently than the competition. For proof, just look to Dell and Amazon.com, both of which revolutionized their industries by changing how companies produce, distribute, and sell physical goods. But they're hardly alone. By revamping their supply chains, Siemens CT improved lead time from six months to two weeks, Gillette slashed $400 million of inventory, and Chrysler saved $1.7 billion a year.

It's a high-stakes game, and you don't have a lot of choice about playing: If your company touches a physical product, it's part of a supply chain--and your success ultimately hangs on the weakest link in that chain. In Supply Chains: A Manager's Guide, best-selling author David Taylor explains how to assemble a killer supply chain using the knowledge, technology, and tools employed in supply-chain success stories. Using his signature fast-track summaries and informative graphics, Taylor offers a clear roadmap to understanding and solving the complex problems of supply-chain management.

Modern manufacturing has driven down the time and cost of the production process, leaving supply chains as the final frontier for cost reduction and competitive advantage. Supply Chains: A Manager's Guide will quickly give managers the foundation they need to contribute effectively to their company's supply-chain success.




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5.0 out of 5 stars Another Tremendous Synthesis of a Complex Subject Oct. 28 2003
Format:Paperback
Many years ago, I picked up Taylor's _Object Technolog: A Manager's Guide_. I choose it, not because I didn't have the techical background to read the deep engineering treatments of the same topic, but because I wanted to save myself the time of ponderously sifting through arcane details to identify the key issues and important problems. With the invaluable map provided by that book, I was able to explore the details relevant to my circumstances much more efficiently. It was such a good map, that I kept copies in my briefcase to give to clients who needed the same type of conceptual guidance to wrap their heads around what was something of a revolution at the time.
_Supply Chains: A Manager's Guide_ is the same type of indispensable guide for navigating the world of supply chains. In the interests of full disclosure, I was one of the editorial reviewers of this book and Taylor was kind enough to take some of my suggestions. However, I read through several iterations and could have begged off at any point, but every iteration delivered new value. I've helped architect supply chain management software and have a fairly extensive background in the mathematic techniques used in supply chain analysis, so there weren't many individual facts in the book that I didn't already know. It was the orchestration of these facts and the conceptual synthesis that kept me reading every revision.
Even though I knew the facts, the book helped me see relationships that I'd missed and develop a higher level understanding of the challenges. This process inspired several good software product ideas. Moreover, I suddenly understood how I should be explaining these concepts to my clients. No doubt, copies of this book will also find their way into my briefcase for distribution.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Taylor delivers again. Oct. 20 2003
Format:Paperback
A decade ago, I came across one of David Taylor's books on object technology. At the time, I had written and consulted on the topic extensively. However, reading his first "manager's guide" I felt like I imagine Salieri felt when he first encountered Mozart. The clarity of Taylor's writing (not to be confused with another David Taylor who has also written on Supply Chains) and the beautifully illustrated format put it clearly above the competition. For years, I have recommended his work to my clients and students. Now, with Supply Chains: A Manager's Guide, he's done it again.
As the title indicates, the book is written for a manager rather than a practitioner, and it delivers. Taylor, whose consulting work gives him extensive insights regarding the needs and knowledge of managers, has applied that wisdom to deliver another outstanding reference. In particular, I enjoyed his coverage of business modeling and the significance of collaboration. In my opinion, these sections alone would justify the purchase. Combine them with thorough discussions of management, measurement, and how the software components fit together, and the result is a valuable standalone tutorial and desk reference.
Unless you are an established authority on supply chains - the type of person who doesn't need to buy a book on the topic before giving a keynote, for example - you can't help but enjoy and learn something from this one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Lucid analysis of complex subject Oct. 19 2003
By A Customer
Format:Paperback
This book tackles the breath of supply chain issues, from fulfillment to forecasting, and integrates them into a comprehensible whole. I particularly liked the use of a matrix that showed design, planning and operations on one axis, and supply side, demand side, and overall performance on the other axis. Taylor devotes an entire section of the book to measuring and improving supply chains. This information alone was worth the purchase price.
But the book also does something I didn't think possible. It made areas like logistics new and interesting. Part of this happened because it was written in a clear and lucid style rarely found in business books. Part of it happened because of the book's structure. Taylor provides a high-level outline (something he calls "fast track" which accompanies every paragraph) and illustrates most of the concepts (there must be hundreds of easy-to- understand diagrams). You can dive in where you want and get the information you need.
While there are a lot of books on aspects of supply chains, I haven't found anything that pulled so many critical concepts together. This is a source book I expect to keep on my bookshelf to return to again and again.
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