Supply Chain Management

Supply Chains are all of the organizations, people, and processes that are involved in the sourcing, creation, distribution, and consumption of your product or service. Supply Chain Management (SCM) is the effective design, operation, and improvement of this network of organizations and people that may exist on a global basis.

Most organizations have only given serious attention to their supply chain in recent years. Previously, individual organizations were only concerned about their own operations, those that they owned and controlled. Now it is recognised that the product or service that the end customer receives will be influenced by actions across the whole supply chain, and that the success of individual supply chain organizations is strongly influenced by the actions of the other supply chain members. Supply chain management is based on this understanding and is focused on maximizing the performance of the whole supply chain.

Supply chain management (SCM) relies on, at its core, people talking to people.  Working with vendors, coordinating shipments and carriers, buying stock, fulfilling orders, maintaining inventory levels, forecasting what end users may be looking to purchase in the future – every step of the way involves communication between one party and another. “Social networking is not about socializing, but about facilitating people-to-people communication and collaboration, which is at the heart of managing and executing supply chain processes.”  “What is needed [in a dynamic business environment] is a supply chain of rapid response…Many people who work in the materials business [and] talk about supply chains and the speed of supply chains [have historically] thought about systems talking to systems across enterprises and about processes. But in reality, the speed of the chain is not really related to the systems used by the various companies—it’s all about people, and people talking to people”

If MIT Professor Edward Lorenz hadn’t gone for a cup of coffee when he did fifty-six years ago, his 1972 seminal paper, ”Predictability: Does the Flap of a Butterfly’s Wings in Brazil Set Off a Tornado in Texas?” [1] may not have been written, Robert Redford may not have played a wise gambler in the 1990’s movie “Havanna”, Ashton Kutcher may not have travelled back in time in his 2004 movie, “The Butterfly Effect” to fix his childhood, and perhaps, least of all, chaos theory [2] may not have been discovered. For those unfamiliar with Professor Lorenz’s story, on that day in 1961, Lorenz was repeating a simulation he’d run earlier — but this time he rounded off one variable, from 0.506127 to 0.506, of the experiment’s 12 variables, representing things like temperature and wind speed to simulate weather predictability. To his surprise, when he got back after coffee, that tiny, tiny alteration (a 0.000127 difference) drastically transformed the whole pattern his program produced, over two months of simulated weather. “It was philosophically very shocking,” [3]  says Steven Strogatz, a professor of applied mathematics at Cornell and author of Nonlinear Dynamics and Chaos. “Determinism” [4] was equated with predictability before Lorenz. After Lorenz, we came to see that determinism might give you short-term predictability, but in the long run, things could be unpredictable. That’s what we associate with the word ‘chaos.’ ” How does this lesson, that a minute change in variables can have an enormous impact in outcome, affect business product launches today? Let’s look at a recent failed social media effort to access millenials’ wallets. On the surface, it was a winner: the 2014 non-profit industry celebrated a huge success with its major international ALS fundraising movement, “The Ice Bucket Challenge”. The program went viral, raised over $115 million in donations, and attracted 2.5 million new donors [5]. Naturally, the ALS non-profits ran the same program again in 2015, but to their surprise, raised only $500,000, or 0.00434783% of 2014’s donations. So what was the minute variable that had changed in just over a year to cause the failed fundraising? In Philip Haid’s article, The Ice Bucket Challenge Part 2: What we can learn from why it didn’t work [6], he suggests the ALS non-profits forgot to consider the “why” variable in the program’s 2015 success. “Most people don’t interact with charities on a daily basis the way they do with their favorite brands, so it isn’t easy… Read more »

Each year we print four billion flyers that are read by 81% of our readers, making them the most used source of local shopping information.  For Metroland Media, their competitors and readers, these numbers are astonishing. Supply chain management is now more relevant than ever in terms of any organization succeeding. Products need to be properly designed, developed and distributed, while still being cost effective, easily adaptable to changes in the product or market and remain at a high-quality level for customer satisfaction. Metroland makes it apparent that the products they produce find there way into the customer’s hands with the same quality it left their organization. They know that improving their network of organizations and people involved in these processes enhance a variety of factors within their supply chain. Metroland Media is an excellent example of how an organization should run their supply chain and how it can be managed and improved.

At FlashStock, operational efficiency is key to the growth and success of the company. Our core product is custom images and videos taken by our network of global contributors which is delivered to brands around the world through our machine learning technology. Even with this automation, we need to ensure that the customer is properly managed throughout the customer lifecycle. Having better insight into the process, through the collection and use of data, allows FlashStock to scale resources as needed for all client project sizes, effectively manage the pipeline of business, and ensure the proper management of those resources for optimal productivity. Some say having a well-oiled supply chain is a key competitive advantage. FlashStock views the supply chain as key for tracking and measuring that we are going above and beyond for our clients delivering what we promised.

Grey Rock Clothing Co is a one-stop shop for sweatshop-free and organic clothing located in Guelph, Ontario. Founded in August 2012, they have seen wild success in the local community and have created a lot of buzz for their industry and for responsible, fair-trade shopping in general. Since August of 2015 they have been a B Corp Certified Company. This assures customers that they meet the very rigorous standards set out by the B Corp Community. How does a company become a B Corp Certified business? By adhering to some pretty strict guidelines and by doing a lot of research on their suppliers. Grey Rock Clothing Co has to scrutinize their entire supply chain to ensure they are practicing what they preach when it comes to being good for workers, the community, the environment, and for the long term.

Budget Marine is the Caribbean’s leading marine chandlery with retail locations throughout the Caribbean.  In the Caribbean, most people use social media to let friends and family know where their latest landfall is, and for obtaining information through cruisers’ nets. Using social media as a tool to improve business performance is a new concept.  However, for companies like Budget Marine, it opens up vast new opportunities.  People may not think of the Caribbean when they think of “multinational companies,” but that is exactly what Budget Marine is.

Supply chains are all of the elements, organizations, people, and production systems involved in the creation, distribution, and consumption of a product or service. Supply Chain Management (SCM) recognizes that all of the players and processes in the system are interconnected. When one player fails or doesn’t deliver up to expectations, product success can be diminished or lost. From Napoleon to Hitler, this idea of guarding supply line control carries has always carried mythical, and real military implications in our history. SCM proposes that collaborative practice among commercial stakeholders is an appropriate driver for successful enterprise today.  But does this practice actually work? Is collaboration actually business bullying of the larger buyer over the smaller supplier into resentful submission?  Imbalanced business relationships such as these usually create suspect questionable dialogue between such contracting parties? There are always going to be continuing “best deal” dynamics involved or intellectual property or data source to protect. If you squeeze your supplier, why would the supplier necessarily share pertinent information with you? However, we know that few organizations operate in a vacuum. Supply Chain Management proponents suggest that these problems must be overcome or the risk of disruption is heightened. There is too great a risk that outside influences or 3rd party organizational failures can disrupt a competent company’s best laid internal plans, if an appropriate dialogue is missing from the workflow between people and companies. We are reminded that this supply chain is a journey of a product or service from inception to delivery. It must by necessity, include the interaction of a myriad of players and sub-contractors, growers, developers, marketers, wholesale to retail, depending upon the nature of the product. In an outsourced, overhead efficient world, few successful organizations function in a manner permitting them to produce all of the services or products necessary to deliver their final product. We see numerous examples of supply chain problems around us every day. most notably In Toronto with the Toronto Transit Commission’s continuing difficulties with noted tech giant Bombardier. Observers have placed the cause of the delivery problems on one of Bombardier’s subsidiaries in Mexico, which is having difficulties delivering prototype streetcar elements to specification, therefore causing delays in the Sault Saint Marie plant and delays in delivery of the contracted street cars to the city of Toronto. These are contracts in the billions, so the illustration here is an important one.

LUSH Cosmetic Retail Ltd. is a cosmetics retailer headquartered in Poole, United Kingdom, founded by Herbal trichologist, Mark Constantine and his wife, Liz Weir in 1995. This UK-based handmade cosmetics firm is one company that now has over 800 stores worldwide and uses factories in more than 40 countries. Lush as a cosmetic retailer has always been a company that uses unconventional methods which have led them to success. Since its establishment, Lush has been inventing and designing its products to reduce usage of packaging, water, energy and also to reduce carbon emission and waste. 100% of Lush’s products are vegetarian, 65% of them are preservative free, and 58% of them are free from unnecessary packaging. Lush also created solid shampoo bars, massage bars and Bath Bombs that do not even need packaging. Lush says liquid soaps and shampoos need to be bottled and that one can prevent over 30 plastic bottles from entering the landfills by switching to solid bars from Lush. From making shampoo bars in solid form, rather than bottled, over 450,000 litres (118,800 gallons) of water is saved every year. The products in the retail store are displayed similar to how fruits and vegetables are displayed in a grocery store without extra packaging. It’s no surprise that Lush’s ethical supply chains and financial success aren’t mutually exclusive.

Damco is one of the world’s leading providers of supply chain management and freight forwarding services. For more than 100 years, They have been providing customers with logistics solutions that support the way they want to do business, wherever they are in the world. Their strategic approach and hands-on services are extensive and tailored; whether it’s a competitive rate for an urgent shipment or a strategic solution to create short-term efficiencies and build up long-term competitiveness.  Damco  is part of the Maersk Group. More information on Damco and Damco services can be found on

On-line retailers have been commanding a higher share of Canadian retail spending every year. The trend is largely driven by convenience (e.g., home delivery), wider assortment (due to absence of physical shelf space) and opportunities for consumers to use social media to share their opinions about their experiences with the product. and its Canadian web-site,,  are  great examples of successfully capitalizing on the above trends to provide the best in class on-line shopping experience. Amazon has become the largest on-line retailer in North America, selling over 480 million products in the USA and 133 million in Canada.

Watsi is a non-profit crowdsourcing platform that enables anyone to fund life-changing medical procedures for patients in developing countries who might not otherwise have access to healthcare. At the time this case study was written, 22,102 Watsi donors had funded healthcare for 11,559 patients in 25 countries. Patients waiting to be fully funded included Vehn, a farmer from Cambodia who needs a hip replacement, Olga, a single mother from Guatemala who needs treatment for diabetes, and Dah Htoo, a 2 year old boy from Burma who needs surgery to repair burn damage. When Watsi founder Chase Adam was a Peace Corps volunteer, he was traveling through a small town in Costa Rica when a woman boarded the bus. Her son required medical treatment she could not afford; she showed his medical records and asked passengers for money to help pay for his treatment. The town was called Watsi and the idea of developing a platform to crowdsource funding for vital health care in developing countries was born. Soon after the platform launched, the idea gained traction on Hacker News, and eventually led to Watsi being the first non-profit startup funded and accelerated by Y Combinator.

Schaeffler Group is a global integrated automotive and industrial supplier. Highest quality, outstanding technology, and strong innovative ability represent the basis for the Schaeffler Group’s lasting success. This global company generated sales of approximately 13.3 Billion Euros in 2016. With 22,000 customers and 85,000 employees worldwide, Schaeffler is one of the world’s largest family-owned companies.  It currently has 170 locations in over 50 countries, its  network is comprised of 75 manufacturing locations, research and development facilities, and sales companies. This German-based company has earned a reputation for being a leader in innovation. The Schaeffler Group has invested significant amounts in research and development, with 6,700 employees working on new products and technologies in 17 research and development centers all over the world. Schaeffler owns the rights to approximately 24,000 patents and files more than 2,300 inventions for patent applications every year. Schaeffler is continuously adopting leading-edge strategies to improve their supply chain management process. With the objective of delivering high quality products on-time and at reasonable costs, Schaeffler is committed to innovating new ways to be more flexible and adaptable to any real-time changes. It utilizes a myriad of social media strategies in many areas along the supply chain to improve productivity, design and customer engagement.  

According to Wikipedia a supply chain is defined as a system of organizations, people, activities, information, and resources involved in moving a product or service from supplier to customer. So what is the supply chain in the sport of synchronized swimming?  Specifically for the Waterloo Regional Synchronized Swim Club.

In today’s highly competitive market, organizations must strategize to create avenues of innovation, efficiency, and increased productivity to hold on to their competitive advantage. An area with room for growth for many firms is more effective supply chain management. With a vast array of social media tools available, organizations can improve operations in several ways including but not limited to increased visibility, communication, coordination, and reduced costs. “Although a vast majority of people reference only the most popular social networks – Facebook,  Twitter and LinkedIn when thinking of social media, the true social media experience is much larger for companies. They can engage users through smart phone applications, RFID, IoT, Big Data, business social media (for sharing information between partner groups) in order to help information spread much more quickly.” Ranjan Sinha, Logistics and Supply Chain Management Professional

Up until a few years ago I never gave much thought to where my products came from. I definitely didn’t give a second thought to where my printer paper came from or whether or not it was recycled. To be honest, up until a few days ago I still didn’t think much about my printer paper but then I stumbled across New Leaf Paper. According to their website “New Leaf Paper is the industry’s leader in developing papers with the highest sustainability and greatest impact on our environment.” Not only that, they aren’t afraid to show you exactly what kind of carbon foot print their paper is making on the environment with the help of Office Depot and a tool known as Sourcemap.

Social Media’s Impact on the Supply Chain industry is deeper than you might think.  Many organizations are using the information gathered from social media to predict trends, ensure timely delivery of goods and source where a product is made.

When you ask the question; “How are you using social media in your supply chain management?” many small, medium and even very large companies simply respond by saying “What do you mean?” In fact most individuals interested in how to leverage social media for a business purpose would say that this tool in supply chain management has not been well developed.   Adrian Gonzalez in the article entitled “The Social Side of Supply Chain Management”, argues that social media should be in supply chain management because at its core social media is about people to people communication and collaboration.  He goes on to suggest that since social media use in business purposes is a “new frontier” you need to be willing to take chances, to experiment because at the end of the day “you don’t know what you don’t know”. He offers some practical parameters for this experimentation: “Don’t get caught up with buzzwords. Focus instead on the work that needs to get done, and see if social networking tools are a better, more effective solution than email, conference calls, and other ways you’re currently communicating and collaborating with colleagues and external partners. Encourage young professionals on your team to take a leadership role in finding opportunities to improve existing processes using social networking tools and to train/mentor colleagues who are less experienced using these tools. Develop guidelines, a training program, and a governance structure on social networking use that allows employees to experiment and innovate, but also clearly defines roles, responsibilities, and boundaries.”  

Clearwater was established in 1976 by two very ambitious Nova Scotians; John Risley and Colin MacDonald. Risley and MacDonald started Clearwater as a local Lobster Pound, named for the cove in which they operated, with only a pick up truck and a vision. Over time, their vision grew from its humble beginnings in Hubbards, NS at ‘Clearwater Cove’. Clearwater grew to become Clearwater Seafoods Inc.; one of the world’s leading seafood companies and the largest holder of shellfish licenses in Canada. Since its establishment, Clearwater has been a company committed to sustainability through science-based management. As company CEO, Ian Smith notes: “Since Clearwater’s humble beginnings, we’ve continued to invest in science and stewardship of the resource to sustain and grow the wild seafood products we harvest. Sustainable seafood harvesting has always been at the core of Clearwater’s business, and will continue to drive our success moving forward.” Clearwater now exports product to over 40 countries and has over 15 offices and processing facilities worldwide. A crucial component to this continued business growth is the way in which Clearwater manages their supply chain; from ‘ocean to plate’.

Supply chain, a process by which we extract raw materials somewhere in the world and convert it to some form of a manufacturing process and deliver it to customers, this is a classic definitaion of supply chain and as most of us know everything is leaning towards digital, and supply chain does not exempt from this. Salesforce introduced a digital and cloud-based platform for sharing information and allowing all stakeholders to visually monitor and view different aspects of the process from manufacturing standpoint to billing and invoicing customers. In classic definition of “Supply chain” the input in the process is the raw material (in possession of a supplier) whereas in cloud industry or any professional services sector the vital substance is the human capital, and sales force is pioneer delivering a magnificent  and innovative service to High tech, telecom, and so many financial service organizations across the world to monitor and track the chain of supply from supplier to the consumer. Salesforce journey is all about improving access to information through streamlining and automating information delivery and simplifying business process where we are referring to as supply chain process.

When you think of social media, popular networking websites like Facebook and Twitter may be the first applications that come to mind, however many companies are leveraging more robust social platforms to better plan and control their supply chain. Data mining, data sharing and online collaboration are just a few ways that social media can improve supply chain efficiency. The term supply chain management is relatively new and was first published in the Financial Times in 1982.  However, it wasn’t until the late 1990s when the term began to take hold. The term supply chain refers to the process involved in the production and distribution of a product or service. To explain the term further, I will use an example of an Oreo. The beginning of the supply chain starts with sourcing ingredients for the product such as sugar and cocoa. Other points of the supply chain of an Oreo include shipping, manufacturing, distributing, retail sales, consumption and finally waste disposal. Supply chain management strategies requires a total view of the system to optimize business processes. Having control over supply chains are essential for businesses as it impacts costs and risks, and because today’s customers are demanding transparency of it. For example, customers want to know where the foods they eat or the clothes they wear come from, and are asking companies to provide information about sustainability and ethical sourcing.

The supply chain plays a pivotal role in the overall success of an organization, but even more so in the fresh food sector. Restaurants and other food related operations are always looking at ways to cut costs and maximize profits in the most effective and efficient methods possible. Whether it be healthcare, restaurant chains or even small mom and pop type restaurants, GFS understands that managing all those moving parts can be an overwhelming aspect of doing business. GFS is the largest family operated distributor in North America that has been running for over 115 years and services restaurants, universities, healthcare and a variety of other foodservice operations. Logistics and supply chain challenges have been at the core of the GFS company fabric since it’s establishment in 1897, but being able to manage the supply chain and its intricacies in 2017 is a different dynamic entirely. In addressing this fundamental concern, GFS developed “GFS Connect” with the goal of providing the customer total traceability and accountability anywhere, anytime in an easy and convenient way: “GFS Connect Mobile is the companion application to GFS Connect, offering you access to the same information on a mobile device. This one-of-a-kind tool lets you run your business on the go, anytime, anywhere. It’s the first and only mobile application available to food service operators throughout Canada – and it’s easy and convenient to use.”- GFS Canada Website

On the day I read the content of this case study I had a nasty headache. As I reached for my bottle of Tylenol I wondered how does the manufacturing  industry use social media and the resulting supply chain management ?  Having close relatives in this industry and for confidentiality reasons I decided to look into the manufacturing/vendor side as opposed to discussing a large well-known pharmaceutical company.  What I learned at this level of this industry was it has various levels of complexities of graphs, processes and disconnected communications.

As one of the world’s most renowned supply chain managers most people would not question that Walmart has ‘perfected’ their product management, as they have products made in over 70 countries and manage an average inventory of $32 billion. However, during this Halloween season Walmart seems to have dropped the ball when listing a Halloween costume from supplier, Totally Costumes. This highly controversial costume is named, Razor Blade Suicide Scar Wound Latex Costume, it is a stick on latex scar that looks like a fresh wound from the blade of a razor. The wound is designed to be worn on wrists to look as though the individual has attempted to take their own life. Bloggers, Nicole Lyons & Stephanie Bennett-Henry, recently caught eye of this costume while it was posted on Walmart’s online store and responded to the item on,, in a letter titled, “Dear Walmart”. In the letter the two go on to explain how if the company would like to do this costume justice they could go on to make an entire line-up of costumes “to make a buck off of one of the most devastating things that could ever befall a family”. They suggest to go along with the latex scars the individual could wear a sash that says, “I finally did something right”, and even have blood that shoots out of the veins after the razor finally cuts through the right vein. They suggest adding a straightjacket and a pail of meds for the individuals who do not “get the job right” and have to live knowing they could not succeed at that either. They also added the idea of a speaker that repeats a permanent goodbye to haunt those they are leaving behind. The idea of a Grieving Mother Costume was even brought forward to add some cash to the corporations pocket that would include, “ a lifetime of guilt, stigma, and shame … some latex wrinkles for the torment of unanswered questions about what they could have done differently, and why couldn’t they see the signs”. The letter goes on to add a Suicide Survivor Costume saying, “You’d add one of those tacky letters you carry, like an “F” for Failure or “D” for Didn’t do it right, or “W” for Walmart is a disgusting corporation who makes money off of the backs of people who battle every … day with their own… Read more »

These days, the image of a company on social media is crucial to its success, and businesses around the globe are having to learn quickly how to use this tool to their advantage. Primary function of social media is to stay connected with customers and to carry an online presence but it can also be used as a way to increase efficiency and improve upon supply chain management. Facebook, Instogram and other social networks allow for a dialogue between company and customer. The customer is able to speak directly with the company, and the company in turn is able to publicly exercise their great customer service for all to see, and to advertise promotions to attract new business. However, social media in industry is not just outward facing, but is being used increasingly within business to help manage supply chains, creating “social business networks”.  These networks are more about facilitating “people-to-people communication and collaboration”, allowing real time transparent conversation between peers groups. This function, in a wide spread, even global supply chain, is proving to be a golden ticket. Ability to monitor the here and now of their supply chain production and needs. Logistical updates can be tracked, data can be shared, and progress can be monitored. All this means that in turn should any problems arise, they can be dealt with quickly and effectively, pooling resource and ideas from across the entire network of suppliers.

The 2016-2017 school year began with a wealth of negative media coverage about school bus providers in the GTA. Children were repeatedly late for school when buses ran behind schedule, and in some cases children were stranded without transportation altogether. Indeed, we are still experiencing these issues (but much less frequently) on our school bus route, 8 weeks later. I’ve lost count of the number of temporary drivers who have covered our bus route (until the bus company fills the role with a permanent driver). Because of this, I’ve decided to take a closer look at supply chain opportunities in the school bus industry. I suspect social media can offer viable solutions to some of the issues we’re seeing. First Student Inc. is the largest school transportation provider in North America. First Student completes six million student journeys each day, moving more passengers than all U.S. airlines combined. With a team of highly-trained drivers and the industry’s strongest safety record, First Student delivers reliable, quality services including full-service transportation and management, special-needs transportation, route optimization and scheduling, and charter services for 1,300 school district contracts.1