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Comprehensive studies to enlighten practitioner strategy


CAPS Research dives into the big issues that are shaping the field. We release both in-depth information and high-level pointers to empower busy supply management practitioners. Our goals are to move from operational to strategic supply management, improve performance, and reduce risk. Projects are led by top academics in the field in collaboration with supply management executives, applying rigor and disciplined research methods that inform and advance the function.

Our research studies are announced on our website and through our social media outlets and newsletter. Please be sure to add yourself to our list and follow us online to learn about our latest research releases. Each research project has three products for your convenience:

  • Brief: a three- to five-page synopsis that highlights key points of the report and its findings, designed for busy supply management executives.
  • Full study: the full research report includes all the components, case studies, and researcher information, for those who want to delve into the methodology and findings.
  • Video: a teaser of each project, giving an overview in 3 minutes, posted to YouTube.

The newest research reports are available to members immediately upon release. Non-members with an account in Knowledge Central (http://knowledge.capsresearch.org) may access research three years after release.

Current projects

Exploring Category Management: Across Different Business and Organizational Settings
Researchers: Janet Hartley and Thomas Choi
Many organizations are adopting category management, yet a systematic knowledge is limited. This research will explore category management processes and practices used across different settings—manufacturing vs. service; direct vs. indirect purchases; and centralized vs. center-led vs. decentralized procurement. We will examine how categories are identified, how category strategies are developed, roles and responsibilities of category managers, and how category management affects relationships with internal stakeholders as well as suppliers.

Emerging Technologies and Use Cases in Supply Management
Researchers: John Gray and Andrea Prud’homme
How will emerging technologies improve procurement decision making and business results? We are surrounded by potentially disruptive technologies such as blockchain, IoT, cloud computing and big data analytics, autonomous vehicles, AI and machine learning, RPA, etc. This research will articulate how they can improve visibility into spend patterns and affect purchasing work flow, risk identification, task automation, RFX, and contracting. It will offer real use cases from multiple companies with different sizes and from different industries. The use cases will demonstrate how companies first identified the application of the technology and where they then adapted it for their own needs.

Developing Supplier Ecosystems to Create Value
Researcher: Frank Wiengarten
How can we organize a supplier ecosystem to deliver creative solutions to business problems? A supplier ecosystem may consist of multiple external suppliers and internal stakeholders with required capabilities and vested and interrelated interests. This research will delineate a process through which a supplier ecosystem can be created (i.e., who should take part, how to get their buy-in) and different types of supplier ecosystems (i.e., within or cross category, ad-hoc or permanent). It will also offer a post-engagement playbook with reference to managing intellectual property, sharing of benefits, and supplier-supplier relationships within the ecosystems.

Procurement’s Role in Creating Extraordinary Internal Customer Experience, Service Delivery, and Business Performance
Researchers: Ajith Kumar, Steven Miller, and Michelle D. Steward
The goal of this research is to investigate the nature of successful relations between procurement and their internal customers, and how these relationships may be leveraged to improve business outcomes. Purchasing professionals not only must create outstanding relationships with external suppliers, but also with internal users while maximizing business value. This research will isolate the best practices that create both extraordinary internal user experience and overall business success.

Supply Management Integration into Demand Management: Current State and Future Development
Researchers: David Peng and Gregory R. Heim
Traditionally, supply management’s focus has been on the supply side of the supply chain. However, in an increasingly customer-centric business environment, many supply chains are becoming more demand-driven. To develop a better understanding of how procurement can be integrated effectively with demand management, we seek to investigate contemporary issues and aspects regarding how demand is established (i.e., forecasting or market projection) and how demand information is shared with procurement. More broadly, we intend to investigate current practices, organizational structures, and enabling technologies that enable supply management to more closely integrate with demand management.

Future Procurement Talent: Looking Ahead Ten Years
Researchers: Jennifer Nahrgang and Bruce Gilmore
We propose to investigate the future talent needed for procurement and supply chain management. Our study takes three major points of departure—(1) we will take the perspective of large MNCs that make up the CAPS membership base, (2) our projections will reflect the most recent changes in our field that has been accelerating in the last two years (i.e. cognitive analytics, blockchain, etc.), and (3) we will collect data from the supplier side regarding their perspective on the future procurement talent needs of the buying companies.

Data Analytics Teams and Procurement – Who and What
Researchers: Benjamin Shao and Robert St. Louis
The goal of this project is to consider the formation of a new data analytics team, and how procurement can participate and take advantage of what it can offer. Questions that need to be addressed include the team’s scope and core mission, its composition, the necessary expertise and capabilities, the ways the team integrates and works together with procurement, and the organizational systems needed to enable these teams to interact effectively. The findings of this project can help CPOs plan for long-term data analytics strategy, and help their organizations become an integral part of the company-level data analytics team.

Creating a Resilient Supply Chain to Combat Counterfeiting Activities: Identification, Containment, and Preventive Approaches
Researchers: Anand Nair and Robert Handfield
Counterfeiting represents a significant loss of revenue as well as a major threat to a company’s brand and quality reputation. Despite the magnitude of the problem, few executives have definitive strategies for dealing with this issue. An understanding of these supply side issues can present implications for the supply management function. This project will produce guidelines for the CPOs on how to work with other business functions and suppliers to identify, mitigate, and prevent the on-going threat of counterfeit products in the supply chain.

Measuring and Managing Risks in Supply Chains
Researchers: Tobias Schoenherr and Thomas Choi
This project intends to identify supply risks and ways to measure and manage them. Risks to be considered include those associated with suppliers, technology, infrastructures, natural disasters, finances, reputation, industry consolidations and customers that are becoming more discerning and unpredictable. The project will identify data sources and tools to measure, mitigate, and monitor such risks, and how these can be communicated to stakeholders.

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Physician Preference Items Management: Challenges, Opportunities, and Strategies
Published October 1 2018
Researchers: Gilbert Nyaga and Eugene Schneller

Hospitals are increasingly facing financial pressures due to rising supplies costs. Of the total spend, a significant percentage, approximately 60%, is expenditure on physician preference items (PPI). These are items for which physicians have very strong preferences and therefore play a key role in their acquisitions. Among factors contributing to PPI challenge is the nature of relations between physicians and hospital management. For example, in surgical procedures involving implant devices, physicians wield significant influence on the type of devices to be used in patient treatment. The goal of this project is to study challenges and opportunities involved in procuring PPI’s and strategies that can be adopted to effectively manage PPI’s. The notion of PPI purchasing is also observed in other sectors where professionals (e.g., engineers, accountants, marketing teams, etc.) get involved in purchasing decisions or have significant influence on items to be purchased.

Physician Preference Items video link

CAPS Research members: Click here to login and access the research report on Knowledge Central.

Procurement Analytics — Enabling Data Architectures in the Age of Big Data
Published September 2018
Researchers: Raghu Santanam and Michael Goul

Procurement processes will be at the center of the emerging changes in the way organizations engage with their business partners, customers, and suppliers. This new report from CAPS Research examines the ways companies can architect their procurement data to lay foundations for the discovery of new insights. The research addresses the ways companies organize their procurement data structures and evolving them through various levels of maturity. This includes data sources and requirements at each maturity level, the functional capabilities and processes needed to advance, the value proposition of moving along the maturity curve, and what the future entails for already mature companies. Download the full report today to discover the insights and lessons learned from this new research report.

Data Architectures video link

CAPS Research members: Click here to login and access the research report on Knowledge Central.

Blockchain and Supply Management
Published March 2018
Researchers: Dale Rogers, Todd Taylor, and Raymundo Beristain-Barajas and Tom Choi

Blockchain is an emerging technology that can assist a firm to securely manage its financial and inventory data to reduce risk, improve trust and validity through a supply network. Blockchains utilize a distributed ledger that use shared databases, consensus approval, and peer validation. Veracity of data is maintained among network participates through cryptographic proofs and data visibility. This research report explains blockchain technology, provides examples of early adopters, and details potential uses and barriers for mainstream implementation.

Blockchain and Supply Management video link

CAPS Research members: Click here to login and access the research report on Knowledge Central.

Cyber Security in Supply Chains: Understanding Threats and Potential Security Practices
Published February 2018
Researchers: Zac Rogers, Victor Benjamin, and Mohan Gopalakrishnan

Of all recent cyber breaches, approximately 60 percent are supply chain based. A new CAPS Research report identifies five supply network vulnerability archetypes. They are intended to help companies understand the malicious actors who search for the “path of least resistance” into their networks. The report offers an in-depth examination of publicly disclosed cyber breaches, details the various methods of cyber attacks, and demonstrates the key role procurement plays in ensuring a company’s cyber security.

Cyber Security in Supply Chains video link

Related article:
Zac Rogers and Thomas Y. Choi, “Purchasing Managers Have a Lead Role to Play in Cyber Defense,Harvard Business Review, Online Forum, July 10, 2018.

The Role of Supply Management in Merger and Acquisition: Separation and Integration
Published January 2018
Researchers: Kevin Linderman and David Wohler

Involving supply management in mergers and acquisitions (M&As) will help ensure a successful transition and avoid any missteps. In this new report from CAPS Research we detail four capabilities to help supply management can support M&As. Is your M&A business process up to date? Are you one of the 37 percent of companies today that do not have a formal business process in place for M&As?

Merger and Acquisitions video link

CAPS Research members: Click here to login and access the research report on Knowledge Central.

Managing Startup Suppliers
Published October 2017
Researchers: Stephan M. Wagner, Stefan Kurpjuweit, and Thomas Choi

Buying companies source from startup suppliers, relatively young entrepreneurial firms, with the intent of tapping into their innovative products and services. The challenge comes when buying companies attempt to integrate startup suppliers into their current supplier management process. Startup suppliers require a different management style and process that buying companies may not be prepared for. In this new CAPS Research report we detail the three strategies that emerged for working with startup suppliers and provide examples through case studies.

Managing Startup Suppliers video link

CAPS Research members: Click here to login and access the research report on Knowledge Central.

Managing Service Outsourcing Triad: Decision Tools and Strategies
Cosponsored by ASU’s Center for Services Leadership
Published August 2017
Researchers: Mei Li, John Fowler, and Thomas Choi

A service outsourcing triad is composed of three nodes – a service buyer, a service supplier and the service buyer’s end customer – with three links between the node pairs. Mismanagement of any of these links can be a major risk, resulting in the possibility of increased costs, product defects and even lawsuits. In this new CAPS Research report, we detail the interdependencies among links between nodes and explore Service Triads and Service Diamonds. A customizable Excel-based tool has been developed to help quantify the impact monitoring has on single and multiple projects. This tool can be utilized by any service buying firm, but can be especially helpful for customer facing services. A detailed guide is provided with instructions to help you put this tool to work, today!

Managing Service Outsourcing Triad video link

CAPS Research members: Click here to login and access the research report on Knowledge Central.

Supply Chain Cost Savings Strategies – Establishing and Achieving Cost Savings Goals
Published June 2017
Researchers: Lisa Ellram, Wendy Tate, and Thomas Choi

Cost savings is one of the key priorities for all procurement. Are you meeting your companies cost savings goals? With continued developments in business analytics and data availability, new ways of setting and achieving cost savings targets are being realized and implemented. In this new research report we’ll walk you through what cutting-edge approaches are being used to set and achieve cost saving goals, how these goals are measured and tracked, who gets involved in cost savings, and how firms meet targets in multiple categories. More than 10 case studies, with examples, are provided in this in-depth report.

Supply Chain Cost Saving Strategies video link

CAPS Research members: Click here to login and access the research report on Knowledge Central.

Emerging Procurement Technology: Data Analytics and Cognitive Analytics
Published May 2017
Researchers: Robert Handfield, Thomas Choi, Jaikishen Venkitaraman, and Shweta Murthy

Where are you in the analytics journey? If you are like most major business organizations, you are near the beginning of this journey. The rise of the next wave of data analytics and cognitive analytics will probably affect procurement/supply chain management more than other business areas in the coming decade. What are the fundamentals you need to get in place today to prepare your company for this whole new world of data analytics? Through this new research report by CAPS Research you will gain an understanding of the future landscape, what future technologies might be able to do and what you need to do today to prepare yourself for tomorrow.

Data Analytics and Cognitive Analytics video link

CAPS Research members: Click here to login and access the research report on Knowledge Central.

Measuring and Managing Supplier Innovation
Published April 2017
Researchers: Tingting Yan and Kevin Dooley

More than 90 percent of CPOs think it’s important to measure supplier innovation, but only 25 percent actually have a system to do so. Supplier innovation is critical to competitive advantage and can help increase revenue and open new markets, improve quality and timeliness, and reduce costs, but how do you go about measuring it? “Measuring and Managing Supplier Innovation,” a new CAPS study will give you the tools to assess suppliers’ innovation performance and potential, and assess your organization’s ability to capture value from supplier innovation.

Measuring and Managing Supplier Innovation video link

CAPS Research members: Click here to login and access the research report on Knowledge Central.

Futures Study 2020
Researchers: Thomas Kull, Thomas Choi, and Rama Srinivasan

This report addresses the major issues and initiatives the supply management profession can expect five years into the future. Building on past CAPS Research “futures” studies, the results of this study should help supply management professionals understand potential factors that will impact their business models and change expectations for the supply function. Ultimately, the study should give valuable information that supply management professionals can use in discussion with the leadership of their company when developing and deploying supply strategies for the coming years.

Futures Study 2020 video link

Related article:
Kull, Thomas J., Sangho Chae and Thomas Choi, “The future of supply management,” Supply Chain Management Review, Jan/Feb 2017.

Supply Chain Financing: Funding the Supply Chain and the Organization
Researchers: Dale Rogers, Rudolph Leuschner, and Thomas Choi

This report recognizes an opportunity for supply professionals to expand their role into financial issues, as they can significantly alter how relationships with suppliers are managed. The study highlights areas of collaboration, especially involving the corporate finance function and treasury, in addition to suppliers and even customers. Some of the tools presented in this report can bring significant value to the organization because they provide access to liquidity, which is often difficult to access otherwise.

Supply Chain Financing video link

Supply Chain Financing study overview video (long version)

Related article:
Rogers, Dale, Rudi Leuschner and Thomas Choi, “The rise of fintech in supply chains,” Harvard Business Review, Online Forum, June 22, 2016.

Feasibility Study of Nexus Supplier Index: Identifying and Categorizing Nexus Suppliers through Business Analytics
Researchers: Ben Shao, Michael Shi, and Thomas Choi

Nexus suppliers are a new kind of critical supplier. Their criticality comes from their structural positions in the multi-tiered supply network of a focal buying firm. Nexus suppliers may have a profound impact on a buyer’s performance, due to their network characteristics rather than their internal capabilities or knowledge.

The objective of this feasibility study is to develop and assess a data-driven business analytics model for Nexus Supplier Index (NSI) through which we can identify and categorize nexus suppliers in a focal buying firm’s supply network.

Nexus Suppliers and Analytics video link

Related article:
Choi, T., B. Shao, Z. Shi, “Hidden Suppliers Can Make or Break Your Operations,” Harvard Business Review, Online Forum, May 29, 2015.

Sourcing Cloud-Based Services: Underlying Issues and Strategies
Researchers: Sriram Narayanan, Yu Huang, and Thomas Choi

Despite high awareness of cloud-sourcing, buying firms are still in the process of developing more mature cloud strategies to better leverage the potentials. Procuring cloud-based services is taking on increasing salience for CPO’s today. More firms are considering outsourcing various forms of IT-related activities to suppliers that provide cloud-based services. However, effectiveness in cloud sourcing still remains elusive for many buying firms. This CAPS Research project was commissioned with the intention to better gain insights into strategies and risks of cloud sourcing for procurement managers. As firms are increasingly migrating to the cloud, understanding how the cloud can be leveraged for business growth, while minimizing the risks from pursuing cloud sourcing is critical. To facilitate this process, this report identifies cloud sourcing enablers; risks of cloud sourcing; risk mitigation and contract negotiation and governance issues in cloud sourcing.

Sourcing Cloud-Based Services video link

Related article:
Narayanan, Sriram, Vallah Sambamurthy and Thomas Choi, “Getting value from the cloud,” Supply Chain Management Review, Sept/Oct, 2016.

Learn more about these studies
To learn more about this study, please visit CAPS Research Knowledge Central. Anyone can create an account for free, and access the project overview page, but please note that only CAPS Research member companies’ personnel can access the executive summary, brief and full research study.

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