Book Review: Supply Chain Transformation by J. Paul Dittmann

How should a company formulate a sound supply chain strategy? In the past, supply chain professionals make use of various tools and techniques of international business management such as the Balanced Scorecard, Blue Ocean Strategy, SWOT Analysis, and so on to do the job. The good news is that the new generation of strategic planning techniques dedicated to supply chain management is now available! The purpose of this article is to introduce you to the book "Supply Chain Transformation: Building and Executing an Integrated Supply Chain Strategy" and explain how it can help you to create sustainable supply chain operations.

About the Author
J. Paul Dittmann is the Executive Director of the Global Supply Chain Institute at the University of Tennessee. Before that, he worked in various senior management positions at the Whirlpool Corporation. He is also one of the supply chain thought leaders, according to a study by SupplyChainOpz.

Roadmap to Supply Chain Transformation
According to a survey conducted by the author and his team at UTK, only a handful of respondents had a well-documented supply chain strategy. What is a supply chain strategy actually? Do you consider "achieving a 98 percent service level" a kind of strategy?

The first chapter deals with the foundation of the book. The author explains in a clear and concise manner the characteristics of a solid supply chain strategy, why it matters to all of us, and how to convince top management to start a supply chain strategy project.

The story continues with the outline of the book that presents the 9-step methodology which can be applied to the companies of all sizes across various industries as below,

Chapter 2: it goes without saying that a good strategy should start with customer service. But who is the customer and how far down the chain you should go? The author has provided a list of questions that you can use to quickly reveal customers' needs and the trends that can influence future needs.

Chapter 3: an internal supply chain assessment can be done in-house or by the outside consultants. Anyway, the author shows you in great detail how you can identify the scope of the assessment, the sources of secondary data you need, how to conduct an interview, an example of SWOT Analysis, Five Pillar Analysis, and the list of interview questions at the end of the chapter.

Chapter 4: in order to increase the level of supply chain capabilities, emerging trends in supply chain management are very important. You will learn about 7 mega-trends and how it applies to your industry like lean and six sigma.

Chapter 5: many companies analyze the competition by benchmarking certain KPIs against peers, this is definitely too simple. To capture the competitor's movement, the author identifies both sources of publicly available data and a way to find hard-to-obtain data.

Chapter 6: yes, technology is an integral part of modern supply chain management. But, what kind of technology you should pursue? The author breaks down some issues of supply chain technology projects and provides a list of questions you should ask yourself before the procurement or implementation of a certain technology.

Chapter 7: here you will find the most simple yet effective supply chain risk analysis and mitigation that you can use.

Chapter 8: page 147 will show you how the raw data from chapters 2-7 are put together. The author also illustrates 3 ways to prioritize the project.

Chapter 9: since a new project requires the need for a new supply chain organization, the author suggests ways to handle organizations' structure, reporting route, and necessary metrics that foster the success of a project.

Chapter 10: This is where your hard work becomes a reality. Pro tips are provided to you so you can overcome the resistance to change and workplace politics.

The journey ends with the real-life case study in chapter 11.

In my opinion, the contents flow smoothly, straight to the point and it's filled with fresh and unique perspectives. At the end of each chapter, the "Action Steps" encourages you to think deeply and apply what you learn to your situation.

No matter who you are, executives who seek to excel in the supply chain strategy, undergrad/grad students who want to apply theories to a supply chain project, or consultants who want to see new angles, this book is definitely for you. It's like a voice-guided, turn-by-turn navigation system that helps you to overcome obstacles every step of the way.

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Last review and update: July 5, 2022
About the Author and Editor:
Ben Benjabutr is the author and editor of Supply Chain Opz. He holds an M.Sc. in Logistics Management with 10+ years of experience. You can contact him via e-mail or Twitter.