Three lessons from the SCL Canada Conference

June 24, 2010
by Deborah Aarts

Mike Croza, Murray Brabender and Tiffany Jay share pandemic planning best practices at SCL Canada’s annual conference.
Photo: Roger Yip

Supply Chain & Logistics (SCL) Canada’s 43rd annual conference in May was all about transformation.

The two-day conference reinforced the idea that the role of the supply chain manager is in a state of flux in the post-recession environment. Speakers shared best practices for managing smart supply chains in today’s economy. Here are some of the key takeaways.

1. Speed ≠ leadership

Keynote speaker James Norrie, associate dean, administration with the Ted Rogers School of Management at Ryerson University, spelled out the characteristics of effective supply chain leaders.

In today’s difficult economic climate, it’s essential for professionals to boost productivity within their organizations. But it’s important to get the timing right, he advised.

“You can’t confuse agility with speed. If you execute something really wrong, really fast, it becomes a race to the bottom,” he said.

“Agility means knowing when to take your foot off the gas. Really smart leaders don’t go at the same speed all the time.”

He also recommended communicating clearly with employees to inspire supply chain improvements you have in mind. In order for others in the organization to believe in your vision, you have to let your staff know what they are expected to do, why they were chosen to do it and how doing it will make a difference.

If those variables are clear, “you will be astounded at the distances those employees will go for you.”

2. Strategic logistics buying requires pre-work

Mike Owens, vice-president of physical logistics at Nestlé Canada Inc, walked delegates through his company’s tendering process to find a cold-chain friendly third-party logistics provider to handle its ice cream business.

Later in the conference, Joe Sullivan, principal and regional director, Canada for Tompkins Associates, expanded on the concept by listing elements that comprise an effective logistics services RFP.

First should be a legal disclaimer, followed by an introduction and response expectations. You should then include an operational overview (essentially, what you expect the winner to do), followed by service expectations (for example, the level of accuracy you need) and technological capabilities you’d like.