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Internal, external collaboration = success

Internal, external collaboration the key for supply chain success

Supply chain collaboration is a key to success for New Zealand companies involved in manufacturing, distribution and logistics.

External and internal cross-collaboration creates efficiencies and buy-in, says Alan Stenger, who recently completed his term as the Ports of Auckland Visiting Professor and Chair in Logistics and Supply Chain Management at The University of Auckland Business School.

"Internally, companies need to take a holistic view of the supply chain and collaborate across all relevant functions on building and managing relationships. Involving key people across business functions helps to maximize organisational performance by avoiding potential conflicts in objectives, or domination by any one internal department," Professor Stenger says.

"New Zealand companies have an advantage as many are relatively small and can more easily achieve cross-functional co-operation naturally. They can put the framework in place early and it's there as the company grows.

"Externally, vertical relationships need to be fostered with customers, suppliers and logistics providers, covering the sharing of information and even assets where possible. Collaboration helps avoid duplicated processes and redundant activities or inventories, and efficiencies can be achieved by working with others to avoid half-full vehicles and empty containers on back runs.

"However, the small number of players in the New Zealand market can create commercial sensitivities. In addition, New Zealand conditions are challenging – obviously the topography severely constrains the transportation and ports network, particularly with regard to highway and railway infrastructure," he says.

The Chair in Logistics and Supply Chain Management is funded by Ports of Auckland with a $1 million grant over five years. Ports of Auckland funded the chair to combine academic knowledge and insight with commercial knowledge, practice and experience.

Professor Stenger arrived at the Business School in August 2006 and was instrumental in establishing the School's Centre for Supply Chain Management a year later. The Centre now has 11 charter members that provide support through annual donations. Its purpose is to develop and disseminate world-class knowledge and practices in supply chain management applicable to Australasian economies.

Professor Stenger's focus has been on building relationships with industry and governmental supply chain stakeholders. He has also worked on building academic programmes, with an expansion of the Business School's undergraduate major in Supply Chain Management, and the addition of the Post Graduate Degree in Business with a Supply Chain emphasis to be launched in 2009. There are now four PhD students based at the Centre and two major research projects are underway.

Professor Stenger retains a part-time affiliation with the Business School for the next two years, spending some months of each year in New Zealand. A successor will be appointed.

For more information on the Centre for Supply Chain Management, see


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