Soin, Sarvnandan S. (2004) Critical success factors in supply chain management at high technology companies. Other thesis, University of Southern Queensland.
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In today's turbulent economic environment, firms are striving for ways to achieve competitive advantage. One of the approaches is to manage the entire supply chain to reduce costs and improve performance to create competitive advantage and business success. This dissertation explores and investigates how high technology firms use supply chain management to gain competitive advantage and increase business success. The research objective is to determine the critical success factors in supply chain management at high technology companies. This dissertation provides a theoretical framework to understand a firm's performance and argues that supply chain management will help a firm to be competitive and successful. To this end, the critical success factors that make a company more competitive are identified. The research design is based on the established and recommended procedures of multiple case study research methodology; and this methodology is used to gather data from five companies in California, USA. The analysis is based primarily on cross-case analysis for the purpose of theoretical generalization about the research issues. The results identify two clusters of company behavior and characteristics, specifically traditional 'old style' manufacturing companies and progressive manufacturing companies. Each cluster of company behaves differently. At the traditional manufacturing companies, the selection of critical supply chain management factors is internally focused on factors that are manufacturing and quality focused, while at the progressive manufacturing companies the selection of critical supply chain management factors is externally focused on factors that are directed to customers and information systems. There are differences between critical supply chain management factors at high technology companies and benchmark (or commodity) companies that were selected in this study. The benchmark companies select supply chain management factors that focus on customer services and quality. This approach is, possibly, due to the fact that the benchmark companies deal in commodity type products and hence they have to focus on differentiating themselves through strong customer services and quality products. Additionally, with the help of supply chain metrics, financial performance data, and understanding the various companies, it is possible to determine which critical supply chain factors best can contribute to business performance. At the case study companies, an external focus on supply chain management factors such as a strong focus on customer relationship and management, gives better business results. Finally, this study has proposed a novel and new approach to improving customer satisfaction by using QFD methodology to identify performance gaps (and opportunities) from the customer's viewpoint in supply chain management. If the companies wish to increase customer satisfaction, they have to use the QFD methodology to identify critical supply chain factors. The reason is primarily because performance gaps derived from customer needs emphasize what the customer wants and that is different from the internal perceptions of a company's managers. The initiatives that provide the greatest opportunity have been identified in this analysis. Overall, these findings can be used by high technology firms to select supply chain strategies that will lead to sustainable competitive advantage and hence improve their brand and business performance.
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