Supply Chain

Finding the optimal number of suppliers to form your supply base is not easy — nor is it the only factor buying companies must juggle in order to manage their suppliers effectively. New research from Thomas Choi, professor of supply chain management at the W. P. Carey School of Business, shows that companies need to go beyond just looking at how many suppliers they have in their supply base. They need to consider the three dimensions of supplier complexity, then calculate the impact of each on a variety of supply chain factors.

Like a physical supply chain, an information supply chain (ISC) is comprised of the organizations that connect with each other to produce a desired end — product or service — for a user. But where other supply chains may be roughly linear, the information supply chain is more reminiscent of a web, according to Ed Kamins, senior vice president and chief operational excellence officer at Avnet, Inc. Kamins moderated a panel at the recent "Cultivating and Securing the Information Supply Chain" symposium sponsored by CABIT. Enmeshed in this web, Kamins said, are four key players: the manufacturer, the distributor, the value-added reseller and the end user.

Manufacturers have learned to work closely with their suppliers to decrease costs and reduce time to market, but focusing on buyer-supplier relationships may no longer be enough to achieve competitive advantage. Thomas Choi, a W. P. Carey professor of supply chain management, is spearheading new research that examines the relationships between a firm's suppliers. He and his co-authors have discovered that sometimes a company's procurement and manufacturing success — and ultimately, its bottom line — is affected by the ability of its suppliers to work together effectively.

How do you know which hospitals are doing the best job? Patients, insurers and employers all have a stake in the answer to this question, but up until now factual information on hospital and nursing home performance has been scanty, and what is out there is based on differing criteria. A new program designed by the Ambulatory Care Quality Alliance called "Quality Health Improvement" (QHI) is a strong first step in bringing transparency to healthcare. Arizona and five other states have been chosen to pilot the project, which will rate hospitals on 26 "quality measures." Arizona HealthQuery, a database of health information on more than seven million people, will be the foundation of the state's project. Arizona HealthQuery was created at ASU's Center for Health Information and Research.

American consumers pay top dollar for medications they assume are pure and unadulturated. But we don't always get what we pay for, according to researchers who are sounding the alarm about the growing presence of counterfeit drugs in the marketplace. A spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration recently reported that the global pharmaceutical market is "under unprecedented attack from a variety of sophisticated threats." Experts at the W. P. Carey School of Business concur, and they say intensive R&D efforts are under way to develop new methods of improving the security of the global pharmaceutical supply chain.