To stay a step ahead of low-cost suppliers from around the world, Canadian companies must go to extraordinary lengths to shape their supply chain strategies, says a new report summarizing an executive roundtable held by the Access Group, a Toronto based consulting firm.

The report, Speeding Up The Supply Chain, notes that Canada cannot compete just on price; a knowledge and learning culture must support innovation right across the enterprise, not just siloed productivity improvement. The report said that pressures like the rise in the Canadian dollar against U.S. currency and the Canada/U.S. labour cost gap are making it even more imperative for Canadian companies to excel at creating agile supply chain strategy, structure and performance.

“Global pressures are pushing supply chain management to the top of the competitiveness agenda,” said Taimour Zaman, President of the Access Group. “CEOs want to lower costs and add more value by redesigning their business model. At the same time, baby boomers are retiring and the skills shortage in the West is growing, making the allure of offshoring even more attractive. Finally, the growth markets are in the emerging economies, so supply chains have to be built that focus on delivery to those regions.”

Canada is facing a 20-year economic battle to equal U.S. investments in people and service-sector technology, according Robert Crawhall, President and CEO of the National Capital Institute of Telecommunications, and roundtable CEO. “Strategic supply chain change is quite different from tactical and incremental changes to raise productivity and lower unit costs. We still have more work to do in establishing supply chain strategies and teamwork, led from the top of the organization.”

The report describes the three stages of supply chain development: Making It Happen, Making It Happen Better, and Making It Happen Differently. Copies can be obtained by visiting www.accessgroup.com.cn/ideas.php.

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