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Using portals for supply chain agility

I got a note from a former colleague, Bob Foster, asking me to take a look at a recent blog post that he’d written.  Knowing how hard it is to get good conversations going, I was happy to oblige.

Bob wrote a post “Optimizing the Service Supply Chain using Portals”

I read through his post, which made me spend a bit of time thinking about things in a different way.  My background and focus has always been on the sales and marketing side of the world.  We study product lifecycles from a planning, investment, and revenue perspective.  We focus on issues targeted around market penetration, etc.

My bachelor’s degree was in marketing, and the first real exposure that I had to supply chain management as a discipline was at Lehigh when I was working on my MBA.  Lehigh has an excellent center for supply chain research.  Some of my favorite professors were associated with the center.

Until I had read Bob’s post, I had not really given much thought to linking supply chain strategy to the product lifecycle, but it seems like an obvious thing to do.  Early stage products may need a supply chain strategy based upon a variety of factors such as quality, proximity, small order quantities, etc.  Mature products, particularly cash cows, need a very different approach targeted to maximizing profits.

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It strikes me that a good portal is probably the best way to face the challenge of agility that would come with aligning supply chain to marketing.  The nature of product lifecycles can be very dynamic.  By partnering with supply chain management portals, a business could avoid heavy capital and time investments into software solutions that would then lock them into a process at least until the investment had paid off.

I would love to hear some thoughts from others actually in the field.

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