William Ho: on supply chain management

Over the last few months, the importance of understanding supply chain management has become more apparent than ever. We spoke with Associate Professor William Ho to learn more about supply chains themselves, and Melbourne Business School’s new Professional Certificate in Supply Chain Management.

What are the real-world challenges that understanding supply chain management helps to solve?

Understanding the supply chain helps to solve a series of strategic, tactical, and operational business problems, ranging anywhere from sourcing and managing upstream suppliers for high quality inputs, to forecasting and meeting downstream customers' demand. Throughout any supply chain, in any sector or context, there are numerous inter-related decision problems that need to be solved. These include logistics and transportation optimisation, supply chain network design, inventory planning and control, and so on.

What are some of the challenges facing the industry at the moment? Blockchain accountability and transparency for example?

William Ho
Associate Professor William Ho.

There are three major challenges facing the industry at the moment. First, there are many different types of risks affecting supply chains, including macro (e.g., COVID-19), supply, manufacturing/operations, demand, transportation, financial, and information risks.

Second, because of the significant increase of both the likelihood and impact of these supply chain risks, organisations are facing uncertain business environments with resource scarcity.

Third, organisations not only strive for economic sustainability to remain competitive, but also social and environmental sustainability to meet governmental regulations and industry standards.

In order to respond to the above challenges, organisations must be able to design and implement resilient and sustainable supply chains in volatile and resource-constrained business environments.

Why is it important to have specific supply chain knowledge and training?

There is a saying, “chance favours the prepared”, and that is what we are seeing in the COVID-19 pandemic. The global economy has been caught by surprise by COVID-19 because, bluntly, business leaders were unwilling to invest in preparation. Organisations and supply chain practitioners can better prepare for resilient and sustainable supply chains by acquiring specific supply chain knowledge and training, such as supply chain risk management, sustainable supply chain management, supply chain analytics, supply chain technologies, and others.

What does the Professional Certificate in Supply Chain Management offer?

Our Professional Certificate in Supply Chain Management covers core and contemporary topics supply chain practitioners should learn. Topics include procurement and supply management, supply chain network design, sustainable supply chain management, supply chain risk management, and many others. This course also covers novel and innovative techniques for managing sustainable and resilient supply chains effectively and efficiently, such as supply chain analytics, supply chain technologies and so on.

The Professional Certificate in Supply Chain Management is a 100% online program, delivered by Melbourne Business School. It is an introduction to the ever evolving and in demand area of Supply Chain Management. Apply by 22 June to start in July. Find out more here.

What are some of the key industries where we might see the importance of supply chain management in practice?

Supply chain management is such a critical topic in every single industry, because organisations cannot produce goods entirely themselves. They also tend to rely on external suppliers to perform several non-core activities on their behalf, such as logistics and transportation optimisation, inventory planning and control, and so on. Besides manufacturing companies (e.g., automotive, electronics and food), supply chain management is equally important in service industries, including health, hospitality, and even education.

What does the future of supply chain management look like?

There will be a lot of opportunities for graduates in the area of supply chain analytics and supply chain technologies. In particular, the integration of big data analytics, predictive and prescriptive analytics, AI, machine learning, and the Internet-of-Things can help organisations make cost-effective supply chain decisions with limited. These innovations can also help organisations design and implement sustainable and resilient supply chains.