SCMagination: Welcome to the IIM-B Factory!!

These days I am much preoccupied with the term ‘Supply Chain Management (SCM)’. Perhaps it is due to the hectic preparations underway for the not-so-distant placement season. So, whether it is putting together the proposal for my comprehensive project, or building my resume or penning a blog (I run a dedicated blog to SCM here), I cannot help but put a SCM lens to everything I view. Under such circumstances, I hope you will excuse my “SCMagination” as I share the Supply Chain view of the ‘IIM-B factory’.

Let’s start with the Supply side of this factory. The factory sources its raw materials from across the globe. Unlike traditional factories, it does not have any long-term contracts with its suppliers; it does not need one given the dynamics of this Buyer dominated market. Every year the factory starts afresh in its tender for securing raw materials and only those that pass the strictest quality requirements (CAT/GMAT..) are selected. The thriving supplier community, comprising of tier I suppliers (aka coaching institutes) and tier II suppliers (inspired parents and well-wishers), battles every year for their “wares” to be selected. The factory does bestow a leniency to a few ‘preferred’ suppliers via a reservation quota.

The operations inside the factory are fairly streamlined. To cater to the ever-increasing demand, the factory runs multiple assembly lines, each dedicated to a particular product category – PGP, EPGP, PGSEM, EGMP, PGPPM etc. The factory realizes that its core-competitiveness lies in its operators (aka the globally renowned faculty); not so much on fancy machines (aka infrastructure). They thus employ the finest operators who shape the raw-materials into the final product that the market would value. Riding on the wave of globalization of supply chains, the factory has ties with similar such factories in other countries for shaping up the products. For instance, the entire EPGP product family was shipped out to Tsinghua University, Beijing recently where they under-went a pre-arranged set of operations.

To maintain the factory’s premium brand in the market, the products are subject to stringent quality control measures (mid/end term exams, assignments, projects) and frequent surprise audits (the quizzes).  The factory has almost zilch inventory at all the three levels – raw material, WIP and finished product.  The rigor of the operators ensures that there are no ‘idling’ products on the shop floor. And the market demand of products is such that the customers come shopping to the factory even when the product is very much on the assembly line and yet to complete its “shaping-up”.        

What keeps the market demand intact? The fact that the products from this factory usually end up becoming critical components of the final machinery (hiring organizations at a tactical level; the Indian economy at a macro level); and as the machine plods on (hiring firms/economy grows), it requires more and more of such critical components. A not-so-viscious cycle, I say!! 

– Amit Tambi

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