Using associations to drive ALC initiatives

Bill Thompson

IT was with interest that I read Len Harper’s article in the November/ December issue of MHD. The supply chain organisations have been collaborating with each other for many years, and events such as the Smart Conference, the Certified Practicing Logistician certification and the LAA/apics mentoring programme are examples of significant sustainable activities that can be undertaken together. Despite this, there remains a distance between the organisations that is not necessary, and they have not been able to capitalise on the goodwill that exists.

On the whole, the supply chain organisations represent different sections of the industry, but sections that interface hugely and overlap to some great extent. In many businesses in Australia, each of the supply chain organisations could well represent a discipline or group within them. Working apart, this may present some confusion to the businesses. Working together, the supply chain organisations could provide strong, coordinated support to all of the industry.

The Australian Logistics Council (ALC) initiatives are drawing attention to the big strategic issues that the Australian supply chain industry faces, and the workshops run by the ALC in late 2007 to capture the needs of the supply chain industry nationally highlight a number of key issues – particularly ‘Capable People’ – that the supply chain associations can start working on immediately.

The supply chain organisations could play the role of tactical or operational partner to turn the strategic thinking and direction of ALC into reality. Where the ALC provides coordination, direction and policy, the associations have the reach into the many businesses, networks and forums across the country that need to be accessed to deliver the initiatives that drive outcomes.

We have to move beyond the dabbling we do now and build a long-term alliance that delivers real outcomes for the supply chain industry in the short and medium term. Together, we can turn whole-of-industry strategy into outcomes that affect materially and positively the operations of our businesses and that will drive the supply change industry forward.

Perhaps the umbrella organisation could be the way to coordinate an effective, efficient response to the needs – the ALC has good reach and influence into government and well represents the big end of the supply chain, while the supply chain organisations reach numerous businesses, consultancies and individuals who make the industry move.

All the supply chain organisations would benefit by being closer to policy and regulation development, by sharing information and having a common view of the big picture and by increased member engagement and participation. Further, they could benefit if we promote the whole industry in a coordinated manner to attract and develop bright and talented people into what (together) we can show as a vibrant and dynamic and real industry with scope to grow a rewarding and authentic career. Members could benefit by reducing the confusion they currently encounter with the range of organisations they see now.

Len is right: there is a great opportunity for all the supply chain organisations to truly collaborate. We know what to do and we need to make a start, and now.


Bill Thompson is the president of apics NSW and manager of product industrialisation at Cochlear.

Visit www.apics.org.au.

*Excerpt from MHD Supply Chain Solutions, May/April 2008, p.14

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