Book Review: Supply Chain Strategy

Supply Chain Strategy, by Edward H. Frazelle

As someone who is fond of reading and thinking about the study of logistics [1], I figured that I would like this book, and I did.  Logistics has often been looked down upon as one of the less prestigious aspects of business, despite its immense important, and those of us who are deeply fond of studying logistics tend to have a strong degree of support for the underdog about us, as this book certainly does.  What surprised me about this book was not that I enjoyed it a great deal but rather that the author repeatedly cites scripture and draws parallels between our absence of faith in what cannot be seen between inventory as well as matters of faith.  The fact that the author is able to make an impressive connection between supply chain management and the difficulties of faith raises this book from a solid book about a neglected area of study to a very interesting book that is deeply worthy of being read.  To be sure, some of the technological aspects of this book are likely to be at least a little bit out of date because it was written about fifteen years ago, but the underlying principles of how improving one’s logistical capabilities can improve a business for its customers as well as everyone else involved is certainly a timeless and worthwhile lesson.

The roughly 350 pages of this book are thoughtfully organized into ten chapters.  The first chapter defines logistics and shows its change over time in business.  After that the next two chapters investigate logistics performance and practices in activity profiling and data mining as well as various performance, cost, and value measures for the field.  The next five chapters look at various practices and systems within logistics as a whole:  customer response principles and systems, inventory planning and management, supply management, transportation and distribution management, and warehouse operations.  The last two chapters examine the implementation of logistics systems including logistics and supply chain information systems and logistics organization design and development.  As someone who has worked in various logistics related jobs, especially as the author defines it, there was much to appreciate here in terms of the attention and respect that he pays to logistics in general.  The author has previously written books on warehouse management and it is pretty clear in this book that he speaks with some expertise in the subject.

There are at least a few things that the author seeks to do with this book, and in the intervening years it is clear that at least some of these goals were met.  The author’s caution about customer responses to outsourcing was advice that many companies unfortunately did not heed at some cost to their reputation in many cases.  The discussion of warehouse management being stuck between a rock and a hard place definitely applies as more has been demanded of support functions where less resources have been provided, with results that have been predictable.  This book manages to give some strong encouragement to firms to reward their most productive staff so that logistics departments can retain their best employees in the face of desires for advancement and increased salaries.  The book features some quaint spreadsheet-looking dashboards for key performance indicators for various logistics measures and the book as a whole has strong achievement in terms of its visuals.  If this book is read by managers and executives and not only logistics employees with an interest in self-education, it is possible that this work may have done some good in raising the stature of logistics among world-class companies who were aware that companies no less than armies depend on their competence and skill in such areas.

[1] See, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
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