Supply Chain & Logistics Management Course
Influence of supply chain management and logistics on corporate strategy and profitability. Topics include transportation economics and operations, customer service, and international logistics, as well as other related topics.
Hi, and welcome to Supply Chain and Logistics Management. My name is Julie Niederhoff. You’re taking this class because you’re interested in learning more about supply chain, and you may have discovered this interest early in your career, or you may have discovered it a bit later in your career. My own path to supply chain started young, but I didn’t know what it was called. My parents both worked in factories and retail environments, and a lot of my family’s in the military, so I’ve always been curious about the decisions that go into running businesses and military operations. How those decisions were made, what kind of numbers get used, and who’s responsible for those decisions, have always been something I wanted to know more about. In high school, I worked in retail environments, myself. I also worked in some service environments, and whether it’s because I was just curious about how the decision had been made, or because I thought there was probably a better way to do whatever it was I was seeing, I was always curious to know more about how these operations worked. So I was very into details and numbers and business, but I never quite understood how that all fit together to make a course of study. Since I was a numbers person, I decided to go into mathematics instead. So my undergraduate degree was in mathematics, and while I was finishing up my undergraduate degree, I discovered operations research.
Operations research is a subfield of mathematics that deals with applying advanced analytical methods to help make better decisions, exactly what I had always been fascinated in myself. I discovered this while I was working as a research assistant at the Air Force Institute of Technology in their ops department. I was so fascinated by it, and I so greatly enjoyed that year, that I went on to get my PhD in operations and manufacturing management at Washington University in St. Louis. In 2007, I joined the staff at Syracuse University, and I have been teaching there now since 2007, and I really enjoy the opportunity to share this passion with students and explore the world of supply chain management on a daily basis. In addition to teaching, I’ve had the opportunity to do consulting work with many different firms, both in manufacturing, consumer packaged goods, as well as in healthcare and, what’s more, each of these projects has been distinct in its scope and its challenges, but they’ve all been challenging and interesting. And that’s really what supply chain is—every problem is a little different, and so discovering sort of how to move through those problems is a big part of the goal of this class.
So, this course is going to involve some high-level analysis as well as some tactical knowledge. Within the high-level analysis, we want to learn how to assess a situation and then look at it from a managerial perspective and say, what are the drivers in this problem, what are some of the constraints that we have and why, and how can we potentially reframe those. We want to think about the goals of the company, what measurements we’re using to see those goals, what contingencies we can put in place if the goals or the opportunities were to shift, and then how to implement those strategies that we’ve just come up with. And then, because the world is always changing, how to reassess and refigure out the entire process as new opportunities develop and new contingencies and constraints come in to the problem. So, the high-level analysis is a really important part of this course.
In order to really do a good job at an analytical level, we’re also going to spend time on tactical knowledge. We’re going to talk about determining the appropriate formulations of a problem, creating an economic model, how to gather and prepare the appropriate data and information to really understand what’s going on, and then how to calculate a solution so that at the end of the day we have not only a strategy but the hard details of implementing that strategy. To accomplish this, we’re going to spend a fair amount of time going over terminology and frameworks and formulas and calculations so that we can really understand the problem at a tactical level. We’re going to be reading articles and also going through material in traditional lecture format. In addition to that, we’re going to have many, many case studies where we will be applying these concepts within the complexity of real companies with real decision-makers and real extra constraints in their decision-making opportunities. So we are going to focus on this tactical process as well as case studies. The goals of this class are for you to develop a managerial perspective, both across a variety of supply chain decision context as well as within a variety of industries, manufacturing, service, and more. So welcome to the class. Good luck, and I hope you enjoy the course.