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Operations

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  • Inside the World of the Project Baron

    New research offers insights into the leadership & #8212; and politics & #8212; that typify project-based firms.

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  • What Really Happened to Toyota?

    This article assesses root causes of the highly publicized recalls of Toyota vehicles in the U.S.

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  • What Great Projects Have in Common

    From time to time a project truly stands out, creating exceptional value and having an impact on the industry.

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  • Putting It Together: How to Succeed in Distributed Product Development

    Outsourcing complex product development work subjects companies to significant uncertainty.

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  • What Happens When You Outsource Too Much?

    Managers must understand which competencies they can safely outsource and which they should manage internally.

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  • Opportunism Knocks

    There are five steps managers can take to protect their complex and vulnerable supply chains.

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  • 'Greening' Transportation in the Supply Chain

    The country's largest corporations have hit a road bump on their way toward factoring sustainability into their transportation choices. Despite pressures from customers and investors--and the prospect of evervolatile energy costs--just 9% of Fortune 500 companies include environmental goals in their public documents. A study of those 44 companies reveals some of the best practices that can help a business go the distance, ultimately working with its partners to rethink its entire transportation infrastructure. Companies must demonstrate three distinct levels of integration before they can embed the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions into their transportation strategies: establishing a foundation (acknowledging the problem), changing internal company practices (building an environmentally aware culture) and impacting supply chain practices (such as better vehicle utilization or more efficient routing). Within these categories, the tactics need to be measured by carefully calibrated metrics that can track both environmental and financial progress. As employees begin adapting their own decision making to the new priority--by, for instance, choosing videoconferencing instead of traveling--executives should spread such success stories, reinforcing the institutional preference.

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  • Minding the Supply Savings Gaps

    For most companies, the single largest cost category is the total spend with suppliers. However, figuring out how to identify the best areas for supply savings--and then how to measure and report them--presents major challenges. Both understatement and overstatement of supply savings gaps signal the wrong reality, leading to an overemphasis on low-yielding cost saving initiatives, misdirected corporate resources and employees being rewarded for the wrong behavior. Moreover, supply savings gaps conceal the strategic contribution suppliers can provide. In studying the supply management practices at 30 large North American and European companies, the authors identified a variety of measurement and reporting practices for supply savings. They conclude that correct measurement of supply savings is almost impossible and that there are frequently gaps between reported savings and reality. They explore why gaps exist, what practices lead to under- and overstatement of savings, the consequences of poor supply savings measurement and what can be done to recognize supply savings gaps. To overcome the measurement and reporting challenges, the authors recommend that executives do three things: Focus on the total cost of ownership; categorize the different types of savings; and hardwire savings to the budget.

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  • Outcome-Driven Supply Chains

    Supply chains should be designed and managed to deliver one or more of six basic outcomes.

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  • Your Next Supply Chain

    How have strategies for supply chain design changed? Two leading thinkers offer insights.

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