Adaptive Supply Chain : Mitigating The Uncertainties – DMS, IIT Delhi

“The only thing constant is change” – Heraclitus

This was the main takeaway from OP’ERA ’16, the Operations Conclave, organized by the Department of Management Studies, IIT Delhi.

Through OP’ERA ’16, students at DMS got an opportunity to interact with and get enlightened by key business personalities from the industry.

The first session was focussed on the theme- “Adaptive Supply Chain: Mitigating the Uncertainties”. The Panel was headed by Prof Ravi Shankar, PhD, IIT Delhi. Following are the eminent panel members from across the industry, who provided deep insight to our students on the above topic:-

-Mr. Sreenivas Rao, Regional Supply Chain Director- South Asia, Reckitt Benckiser

-Mr. Baldeep Singh, VP Operations, Snapdeal

-Mr. Anand Maithani, Head-SCM, Apollo Tyres

-Mr. Amitabh Prasad, Regional VP-Sourcing, Ericsson

-Lt. Col. Mr. Atul Holkar, Senior Vice President, Head Merchandise and Supply Chain Management, RJ Corp

-Mr. Vinod Kumar, Supply Chain Planning Head, Sony India

-Mr. Hunny Ghade, AVP, Operations, Delhivery

-Mr. Sanjeev Singh, Director, Head of Strategic Sourcing and Procurement, Cushman and Wakefield

The session started with lighting of lamps by the panellists, which signifies that knowledge is like light which kills the darkness of minds. The panel chair started the discussion by introducing the management students to the topic and explaining how supply chain is evolving at every phase and is developing new synergies with rapidly changing market.

Dr. Ravi Shankar, professor in the area of Operations and Supply Chain Management at DMS, highlighted that Supply Chain is a very important and complicated area, and uncertainty, which is a challenge to any organization, is its core part. To tackle this, forecasting becomes necessary. Fortunately, introduction of Goods and Services Tax (GST) will mean a rational, simplified tax structure for consolidated fiscal policy.

He also explained 3A’s of uncertainty in supply chain:

-Adapt: Adapting supply chain networks so that one can adjust to changing needs

-Agile: Ability to respond rapidly to changes in supply, demand, market conditions, etc

-Align: Aligning the interests of firm with the industry.
Mr. Sreenivas Rao stated that uncertainties are everywhere. Uncertainties in supply chain mainly depend on the type of market, demand and type of products in the market. Mr. Rao pointed out an extremely good observation of how consumers have become very demanding nowadays and companies have become very responsive to their demands. He also provided some real life examples like how demand for the replacement of Samsung phone batteries have increased. An organisation should be prepared for any uncertainty, and alignment of its business is important.

Mr. Baldeep Singh mainly focussed on adaption of supply chain in E-Commerce. He explained how one of the prime uncertainties in E-commerce is the launch of a new brand on a competitor’s website. The delay in launching the new brand on your website implies loss of sales. He emphasised on the importance of ‘Disruptive Innovation’ in market. To tackle uncertainties in business, he proposed solutions to strategize severity of risk, probability of problem and detecting risk. He argued that Warehouse modelling has become redundant and has to be replaced with more efficient supply chain model.

Mr. Anand Maithani focussed on the perspective of different organisations when exposed to uncertainty. He stated that supply chain is global, and that events in one country will impact many other interlinked businesses in other geographies too. He stated that adapting and aligning with uncertainties is painful initially but easy thereafter. Increasing the frequency of planning is important to tackle any uncertainty. Mr. Maithani also emphasised on the need of risk managers in supply chain.

Mr. Amitabh Prasad focussed on the internal and external factors that drive supply chain where he explained that internal factors involve firm’s ability to time its processes and design various stages of operations. External factors involve demand forecasting and firm’s ability to service those demands. His view point on utilization of ERP in supply chain management was ‘Business should drive ERP, not the other way round’. To tackle uncertainties he proposed use of Enterprise Risk Management, efficient and adept vendors, and proper inventory management.

Lt. Col. Mr. Atul Holkar emphasised on how vagility or the ability to react fast to change can also save a company even if there is no visibility of the uncertainty. This he reinforced with a real life example of 1999 Kargil war. He stated that adapting, managing and evaluating processes are the core principles in supply chain. He further pointed out that uncertainty is in the mindset. Forecasting the probability of uncertainty is vital. In addition, Lt. Col. Mr. Holkar also focused on the need to strategise ‘Last mile delivery’ problems. He even stated that if there is less visibility to a risk and it is not recognized priorly, risk can still be handled, provided it is done with full velocity.

 Mr. Vinod Kumar emphasised on how he tackled volume, source and visibility challenges in Kerala. He stated that as the industry grows, so does the demand. E-commerce business is increasing exponentially, and with the demand in festive season, forecasting at-least prior 3 months is important. Mr. Kumar also explained how Nokia Mobile faced repercussions for not adapting to the changing needs of the market. Hence strategizing needs of the market is vital to avoid uncertainty.

Mr. Hunny Ghade stated that unprecedented change is reality. He focused more on seasons when the supply is at peak like festive season. Uncertainty in any phase of the supply chain process has a deep impact on other processes. Every supply chain logistic has to be adaptive in nature and requires regulatory framework to sustain through different uncertainties.

Mr. Sanjeev Singh stated that supply chain system should be more agile and responsive. To counter uncertainties, there is need for intelligent data. With increase in competition, every risk in market is an opportunity for someone else. Mr. Singh  also highlighted the importance of forecasting internal and external uncertainties.

The floor was then opened for questions where the students put forth their doubts in front of the panellists on various aspects of mitigating the uncertainties in supply chain.

Questions related to uncertainty involved in disruptive innovation, how ERP handles uncertainties, and how organisations forecast uncertainties were asked by the budding MBA students.

The panellists, with their expertise and experience in the domain, clarified all the doubts and quenched the thirst for knowledge of the young brains of the management department. The students of DMS, IIT Delhi extend their heartfelt gratitude to the entire panel for taking their time out and sharing their valuable views. We look forward to have more such interactive sessions in near future.

Media Cell DMS, IIT Delhi

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