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  • 1. Bringing the Power of GIS toSupplyChainManagement
  • 2. p.1 Forwardp.2 Supply Chain Management’s Quandaryp.5 Driving Decisions with GIS Datap.8 Data Sources and Analysisp.11 Implementing GISp.14 Preparing for GIS-Enabled SCMTable of Contents
  • 3. AmericanSentinel.edup.1Supply chain management (SCM) is an old andestablished aspect of managing the operations ofa company and serving its market strategy. Fromearly Phoenician and Greek traders through theexploration of the Silk Road and royally-charteredtrading monopolies in Britain, commerce up anddown the Mississippi, to the modern global processof design, manufacture, and distribution of goods,people have been concerned for millennia with solvingthe problems of how to get and gather supplies, makegoods, and get them to people who would buy them.However, the problems that SCM practitioners facetoday are as easily solved by traditional methods andtools as nuclear energy is controlled with the knowledgeof how to make a wheel round. A single product maybe the result of efforts on several continents, withcomponents scheduled to arrive just in time forassembly, sometimes while other materials are still intransit. The finished product might have to move overrail, ship, airplane, truck, or any combination of these.Gone are the days that most of the work happenedwithin a single facility, or at worst a few factoriesclose to each other. Supply chains can face disruptionby strikes, political unrest, adverse weather events,accidents, or even the normal perturbations ofhuman endeavor. Improving supply chains to gainefficiency becomes a complex series of trade-offsand a complicated set of considerations.Professionals need new tools, knowledge, andtechniques for managing the tangled web ofconnections, dependencies, interactions, movements,and processes that compose a company’s supply chain.Success entails combining diverse types of informationtied to the geographic nature of a supply chain.That is why SCM professionals need expertisein geospatial information systems (GIS). With GIStechnology, they can collect and analyze hundredsof constraints for a geographically distributedsupply chain; develop and compare contingencyplans; better control inventory under just-in-timemanufacturing strategies; forecast and balancesupply and demand; and manage risk.This e-book offers a condensed introduction tothe concept of GIS for supply chain professionals.The chapters will touch on such subjects as theproblems facing SCM managers and personnel;driving strategic decisions with data; someconsiderations in data sources and analytic approaches;issues of integrating GIS with the existing IT andstrategic infrastructures; and some educationaloptions for obtaining the necessary expertise in GIS.Forward
  • 4. AmericanSentinel.edup.2To think that supply chain issues are simply tacticalproblems handled by some group in operations is toignore how important and influential SCM has becometo the value of a corporation. In 2005, Airbus indicatedthat its then-new A380 jet would see a six-monthdelivery delay. The stock fell by 2 percent, which was anormal fluctuation. However, a year later, the companyannounced an additional six-month delay that wouldreduce before tax earnings by approximately €2 billion($3.8 billion at the time) over the following four years.The stock tumbled by more than 26 percent overnight,a drop in market valuation of $10.3 billion.1In a nutshell, that story encapsulates the conundrumfacing supply chain managers. Sometimes things thatgo wrong are a surmountable inconvenience. Othertimes, a supply chain issue can strike to the very heartof both perceived and literal corporate value. In theconsumer product industry, median distribution anddelivery transportation costs alone represent 3.8percent of revenue. In the household and personal careindustry, median indirect sourcing costs outside thedirect materials costs (which extend beyond just supplychain-related costs) are about 25 percent of revenue.2The destructive impact can take the form ofsomething obvious, like punishment from investorsor unnecessary overhead spending, or it can bepractically invisible, such as ceding advantage toa competitor or losing a market opportunity. Theinvisible damage is the worst because managersmay never realize that it happened and so fail to takemeasures that might make reoccurrence less likely.Danger from the unseen and complexA supply chain can be difficult to manage and optimizebecause of its innate complexity, market pressures,and external realities. Supply chains have becomecomplicated labyrinths that stretch around the globe.A product like the Apple iPad may require componentsfrom Japan and South Korea that are incorporated intosubassemblies and then fit together to build finishedproducts in China.A company has to determine likely demand for aproduct so it can manufacture enough in advance toavoid unexpected sales interruptions, as obtainingSupply Chain Management’s Quandary1Schmidt, William; Raman, Ananth; “When Supply-Chain Disruptions Matter”’; Harvard Business School; January 3, 2012;; “2009 Supply Chain Book of Metrics”;
  • 5. AmericanSentinel.edup.3more stock may mean a multi-month trip on a containership. Incorrect guesses can result in the loss of millionsof dollars in orders on one hand or waste millions oninventory that will almost immediately be remaindered.The chance of making poor decisions has onlyincreased over the last few years. Adverse weatherevents have steadily increased since 1980, accordingto reinsurance company Munich:Re.3Each event raisesthe possibility of disrupting transportation and logisticsin a given part of the world. With global commerce,any disruption has a significant chance of affectingcompanies around the world. For example, the 2011tsunami and earthquake in Japan had a significanteffect on electronics firms.Changing conditions in labor markets, such asincreased regulation and rising wages in China,can upset previously sound strategies. A growingnumber of companies in the U.S. and Europe havebegun to find the manufacturing price differentiallow enough that the greater flexibility andresponsiveness of assembly close to demand canoutweigh the remaining per-unit financial savings.But making a switch is a complex process andcontrolling the supply chain during such an upheaval,a challenge. There are also the reputationalimplications of high-profile news stores whenoutsourcing factories are caught with poor workingconditions, questionable labor practices, or chargesof pollution and then are linked to a client company.Public opinion of Nike plummeted in the 1990s whennews reports uncovered use of child labor in Asia.4Market demands just increase the pressure anddangers. Product lifecycles continue to shorten.Where once consumers might have been contentwith new consumer electronics items every year,now the need to stand out from competition hasdriven companies to cycle models through the marketcompletely in a matter of months. Even old industrieslike book publishing and distribution have beenaffected. A major chain store might give a new title afew weeks to establish itself. If it can’t, copies headback to the publisher and another book is given a shot.Fickle consumers also make SCM more difficult.Clothing stores have been on brutal quarterly schedulesfor years. But now the stakes are higher, competitionis heavier. Even a shift in average preference frompink sweaters to green forces retailers to match thetransient wishes of the crowd, and that’s withoutconsidering trends like automated customizationof clothing, like ordering made-to-measure jeans orshirts from a website. When widgets suddenly go outof public favor, replaced by doohickeys, manufacturers,suppliers, distributors, and sellers must be nimbleenough to change with the whim.Many companies have learned that supply chainmanagement is critical to their success, and so havestrengthened those parts of their operations, puttinggreater pressure on competitors to improve theirown operations and to gain additional advantages.3Munich RE; “North America most affected by increase in weather-related natural catastrophes”;, John H.; “Nike Pledges to End Child Labor And Apply U.S. Rules Abroad”; May 13, 1998; The New York Times; only is there a capacity tomanage vast amounts of data,but GIS systems can present it inorganic, holistic, graphical formats.
  • 6. AmericanSentinel.edup.4As a result, the demands on supply chains haveincreased. They need greater geographic diversityto preserve options and gain additional time and costsavings when conditions allow. SCM professionalsmust be more cognizant of managing risk, both directlyto the supply chain and indirectly to other aspects of thecompany. Greater control over increasing complexitymust somehow balance availability with cost reduction.Modern problems require modern tools, and part ofthe SCM toolset should be GIS.Why GIS?GIS is a critical tool for SCM professionals because itmanages massive amounts of location-based data toproduce information that helps executives to makebetter choices. Often used in such diverse areas asutilities planning, construction, government services,and retail location planning, GIS is a superb technologyto apply to supply chain challenges.What makes GIS so effective is that almost all typesof data have a spatial component. By using locationaldata as a reference, SCM professionals with appropriatetraining can track and manage both resources andprocesses. The resources could include transportationdistribution points for trucks or ships; finishedgoods, whether in a stationary location or vehicle;and raw materials or components inventory. Processesmay include assembly, transportation routing,merge in transit, demand or supply forecasting,or manufacturing lines.By managing both processes and resources, SCMprofessionals can integrate information and look atthe potential impact of product location, transportationdelays at distribution hubs, geopolitical turmoil ontransit routes, availability and arrival time of materials,and projected requirements of customers.Not only is there a capacity to manage vast amountsof data, but GIS systems can present it in organic,holistic, graphical formats. Using GIS, executivescan more easily spot trends and identify potentialdelays or other issues, drill down to the supportingdata, and make adjustments as necessary to keepoperations moving normally.Because of the extensive nature of the data companiescan incorporate, GIS systems allow SCM professionalsto cross corporate silo boundaries, making implicationsof decisions clear. Doing so allows SCM departmentsand upper management to more easily evaluate trade-offs and avoid sub-optimization, in which part of thecompany’s supply chain improves its own activity andmetrics, but at the cost of some other part of corporateoperations, and of the supply chain as a whole.However, making use of GIS in SCM is far morecomplicated than buying hardware and software,collecting data, and putting the two together.Managers will need extensive background in thesubtleties of GIS analysis as well as the supply chainexpertise to identify the most appropriate mannerin which to apply the technology.
  • 7. AmericanSentinel.edup.5As long as commerce has existed, people have useddata to help make business decisions. Understandingcosts are a precursor to setting prices. Sales historiescan help guide future product mixes. Monitoringinventory levels and shipping times from supplierscan aid in optimizing on-hand supply levels.But there is a difference when using spatial data asa tool and making GIS an intrinsic part of drivingstrategic decisions. The first step is to understandsome basic issues related to the strategic use ofspatial data.Data-driven strategyCompanies often think that they effectively use databecause managers and executives look at numbersin reports, charts, and graphs. They might adjustoperations based on what they learned or use thederived information in formulating plans. Suchuses of data are perfectly valid and can be helpful.But they do not represent data-driven strategy.Data-driven decision making is not tacking data ontothe back end of the decision process as a check—ora justification. Instead, managers take a step backand evaluate assumptions, expectations, conditions,challenges, and constraints, both internal and external.Instead of assuming that outsourced manufacturingto Asia would save a company money, managersmight consider such factors as cost of transportinggoods, the effective increased inventory levelsnecessary to cover those two-month container shiptrips, slower reactions to market conditions, fasterscaling of production, speed to market, and associatedglobal distribution of customers.The results are not just thick reports full of numbers,but real analysis that considers the specific needs andgoals of the company. Data appears in a context thatprovides meaning. A given cost, delay, or regulatoryrequirement is neither good nor bad on its own. It is inthe context of the company’s strategy and operations—as well as external conditions at the moment—thatexecutives can judge where and when to take action.If it is impossible to arbitrarily add data review as aseparate step in typical data-driven decision-making,it is even more impractical to toss GIS into an existingmanagement system without reconsidering how thecompany arrives at conclusions.Location-based data isn’t added onto whatever acompany currently does. The effects that geospatialDriving Decisions with GIS Data
  • 8. AmericanSentinel.edup.6considerations can have on decisions are widespreadand profound. Companies should integrate location-based data into all strategic considerations. Ignoringthe spatial component can result in many decisionsturning out badly.Primacy of locationLocation is vital to decision making because it is thegreat invisible common denominator. People buyproducts and make choices at locations, whetherat home, work, or any other place. Companies buyand sell in locations. They manufacture in locations.Goods travel from one location to another; at any timein transit, they are at a given location. Governmentregulations vary by location, as do rents, taxes, andother costs of doing business.If you analyze a business without considering location,you are making mistakes, possibly major ones. Take asimplified example of a company that sells hand-knitsweaters in three cities. The style is the same. The onlydifference is that the sweaters come in three colors:red, blue, and yellow. On the average, the companysells equal numbers of all three colors. Using olderapproaches to data analysis, the company might stockeach location with equal portions of the three.However, a GIS analysis may show that people in cityA prefer red sweaters, in city B they prefer blue, andin city C they prefer yellow. If the company stocksits locations with equal mixes of all three colors,each store would primarily sell mostly the preferredcolor, resulting in nearly two-thirds of the company’sinventory going to waste. Of course, no businesssituations will have such elementary conditions andconsequences. But the basic principles still hold.For a company constructing an oil pipeline thatstretches a thousand miles, supply chain and logisticsconsiderations could be a nightmare. Here are justsome of the factors that will vary by location and whichcould affect how work is performed and resources arehandled and applied:• environmental impact requirements• terrain restrictions on vehicles• road access• distance from materials distribution points• distance from potential crew housing• weather and climate• soil characteristics• native flora and fauna reports• land rights clearing• availability of water and food for crew• regulatory or union restrictions on labor• construction milestonesWithout a full analysis based on location, it wouldbe impossible to build a realistic schedule and set ofestimated costs.Data-driven: harder than it soundsGIS is useful, but it is also complex and demandingand not something to be undertaken lightly. Otherwise,the result can be like using statistical functions on aLocation is vital to decisionmaking because it is the greatinvisible common denominator.
  • 9. AmericanSentinel.edup.7spreadsheet: You may get a number, but if you don’tunderstand what you’re doing, the result might havelittle connection to your reality.The software that correlates the data, enables analysis,and provides visualization and mapping capabilities isspecialized. Using it at all, let alone effectively, requirestraining and experience in the specific applications.Going beyond operating software and actually makingeffective use of GIS requires strengths in a numberof areas, including the following, according to theCalifornia Employment Development Department1:• map design• data analysis• computer programming• database administration• project management• system administrationEven this falls short, because it touches largely onthe mechanical facilities of working with computersand data. Not covered is the wider set of skills that gobeyond the technical and into the analytical, includingthe following :• “Meet with users to define data needs, projectrequirements, required outputs, or to developapplications.”• “Conduct research to locate and obtain existingdatabases.”• “Analyze spatial data for geographic statisticsto incorporate into documents and reports.”And then there are the managerial and strategicskills and knowledge necessary to integrate anydata analysis, including GIS, with corporate strategy.Only by understanding the company’s requirements,challenges, and priorities in an area (in this case,supply chain) can personnel put analytic skills,technology, information, and industry expertiseto effective and efficient use.Because of the diverse nature of data that a GIS canemploy and the correlations that are possible, the SCMexpert using the technology will also have to considerlegal and ethical questions. Analyzing consumer data,for example, could put a company under the auspicesof data privacy laws of many countries.The ethical considerations should weigh just as heavily.Location data correlated with other data could allowa company to discern information about personalhabits, finances, and other private aspects of the livesof consumers. Even if such inferences are not belegally prohibited does not mean that companiesshould give themselves carte blanche.1ESRI; “What do GIS Professional Do?”; Employment Development Department; “California Occupational Guide Number 554”;
  • 10. AmericanSentinel.edup.8To drive decisions with data, a company needs theright data. Since the data will likely come from avariety of sources, it must be in a compatible formatand of suitable quality.In short, there is a fair amount of background of datapreparation necessary in order to make GIS technologywork for supply chain management or any other aspectof a business. The first thing to realize is that just asthere is no “magic bullet” computer system or softwarethat can individually solve a company’s businesschallenges, there is also no single mystic set of data.Reality is complex and understanding it takes work.Assembling and preparing the data is possibly themost underrated aspect of the process.Getting a bead on locationLocation may seem like an obvious concept, butwhen used in analysis, it is far more complicated,and a supply chain management professionalusing GIS must learn the technical aspects oflocation-based data.The earth is an imperfect geometric solid. Due tothe oblate ellipsoid shape of the earth, all mapswill portray a distorted representation of it interms of area, shape, distance, and/or direction.Issues such as choosing an appropriate coordinatesystem, map projection, and datum are importantconsiderations. These mapping parameters influencethe way in which locations are depicted in relationshipto each other. Analysts must select the correctparameters for the geographic area of interest.Choosing dataBeyond choosing the mapping parameters, the SCMprofessional who uses GIS for data-driven decisionsmust carefully select all of the data that will be involvedin the spatial analysis. The task of finding the right datais more difficult than it might seem.The strength of GIS lies in its ability to showrelationships and patterns in data and in revealingpreviously uncovered trends. For example, the numberof factors that could influence component or materialsinventory levels for a manufacturer can be enormous.Here are just a few influencing constraints:• demand from customers• supply from vendorsData Sources and Analysis
  • 11. AmericanSentinel.edup.9• manufacturing lead time• variability of supply or demand and the necessaryinventory buffer• marketing and sales promotions• product lifecycles• spot market availability• spoilage• weather• transit routes• types of transportation• political unrest• strikes• factory maintenance schedules• location of distribution centers• activities of major competitorsData-driven analysis is concerned not only with theseindividual factors, but in the ways they may interactand further affect inventory levels, or whatever elsethe SCM professional is investigating.At the same time, too much data can paralyze analysis.Evaluating all of the potential data sets and thennarrowing it down to the most useful data is key.Depending on time and resources, the analyst musteffectively combine and analyze the data to producemeaningful and reliable conclusions.One thing to avoid is considering data for its ownsake. For example, trying to analyze a supply chainfor a new line of business can be tricky. If the new lineis sufficiently different from previous ones, historicaldata about sales, demand, transportation, and otherelements may be useless. Meaningless data andinaccurate assumptions about data sap resourcesthat could better be spent elsewhere.Data qualityHaving the right data is important. So is having accurateand clean data that the analyst can use. Quality startswith uniform definitions of what the data means. Often,different parts of a supply chain, or even departmentswithin a single business, can use the same terms withdifferent meanings. To one, inventory might meancomponents or materials, while another considers itto be finished goods. Is inventory measured using thefirst in, first out methodology? First in, last out? Averageover a month? A week? At what point in transit do goodsand materials legally change possession from the sellerto the buyer?Data should be accurate, of course. But which of thethree versions of a customer’s address stored inthe company’s accounting, customer relationshipmanagement, and customer service systems iscorrect? Small differences can make an entity looklike two different ones to a computer. Duplicate records,a common problem in corporate data systems, can dothe same. Someone must clean up the data.Furthermore, the data should be in a format thatallows for whatever type of analysis and display thatthe company will need. Will different types of sourcedata be layered on a map? Perhaps someone will wantto run a statistical analysis. For example, a varianceHaving the right data is important.So is having accurate and clean datathat the analyst can use.
  • 12. AmericanSentinel.edup.10analysis to determine where operations havedeviated from the norm needs baseline data toestablish typical conditions.Where to find the dataAfter identifying the necessary data, the SCMprofessional will have to locate trusted data sources.Source, in this case, will mean two different things.One is the physical repository. Is all the informationin a relational database (RDBMS), with its carefullydefined tables and records? Is it more freeform inspreadsheets and word processor documents thatwill require a specialized type of database, possiblyone of the so-called NoSQL versions that aresignificantly different from an RDBMS? The datacould also be in an object-oriented database.Whatever the format, someone has to make all thedata available to be consumed by the GIS software.It might be a matter of importing data from a similartype of database structure, creating new databases,or linking information from multiple dissimilardatabases. All the data must be tagged with locationsfrom the chosen coordinate system to make a location-based analysis possible.There will likely be a mix of external and internalsources of data. From outside the company, the SCMprofessional might obtain information from local,state, and national governments, from commercialentities that license their own proprietary data, andpossibly from non-profit organizations. Not only arethere all the previous questions about data qualityand format, but a consideration of the way in whichthe data will be obtained. It might be via physicalmedia, download, or online query.Internally, a particular supply chain analysis mightuse data from a combination of marketing, sales,engineering, manufacturing, warehousing, logistics,and other departments or functions. The data maybe readily available in a database on a server orfrom cloud storage. Or the company may havestored historical data offline, which could meanlocating a specific piece of physical media to load.Most often though, internal data will come directlyfrom other software systems within the company orfrom an enterprise-wide data repository in whichone version of the data is stored and leveragedthroughout the organization.
  • 13. AmericanSentinel.edup.11Even after a company acquires the proper data andSCM professionals obtain the necessary education,it is still necessary to implement the corporate GISsystem. Notice the system is a corporate one and nota supply chain tool only. For GIS to be successful inSCM, it must extend beyond a single department.On the technical side, that means integration.Integration with other systemsA GIS-based supply chain analysis will always haveneed for internal data, such as inventory levels,manufacturing capacity, customer demand forecasting,marketing campaign timing, or logistics execution.That data must come from somewhere. And it does:other enterprise software systems.• Integrating GIS with other software speeds access todata and reduces the chances of introducing errors bymanual intervention. Access to the original sources ofdata also makes it less likely that secondary storage ofinformation might be out of date and inaccurate. Hereare some of the important systems that a supply chainGIS might need access to: • accounting • warehousing and inventory • purchasing and order management • order fulfillment • demand forecasting • transportation and logistics • manufacturing planning and scheduling • marketing campaign management • factory control • customer relationship management • enterprise resource planning (ERP)Unfortunately, integrating software is often adifficult task, even when so-called standards-basedinteroperability guidelines are followed. Applicationsare complex and making them cooperate takes timeas the process can potentially introduce errors oroperational difficulties for the separate systems.At a minimum it will be a job for an IT departmentand could require specialized outside consulting.The business units that own the application and thedata will also be involved, as they could have concernsabout the smooth functioning of a major softwaresystem that affects their operations.The IT department could arrange for a regular datadelivery cycle, which may not be desirable but mightbe the only option for some companies. In such a case,Implementing GIS
  • 14. AmericanSentinel.edup.12different data formats might require custom programsand business procedures to transform the data everytime it is extracted.Data will also require tagging with the propergeographic coordinates. Such tagging would requireeither changes to the applications’ databases or thecreation of parallel databases to track the relationshipsbetween internal data (or third-party external databrought in-house) and location coordinates.If the data has never been geocoded before, someonewill have to decide what coordinates are appropriatein each case. Also, as new internal data is generated inthe course of business, it too, will need to be geocodedand verified. This is a significant effort that will requirethe involvement of supply chain management, IT, andother departments.Integration with the businessAs complex as the technical issues can be, integratingGIS analysis with a company’s business functions is asignificant challenge because it requires a change inhabits, preferences, and attitudes among personnelat all levels of the company. There are five areas thata company should address.Operational controlTactics and operational control come readily to adiscussion of GIS. That is particularly true for supplychain management. A primary function of SCM is toadjust and direct supply chain functions to keep theflow of materials and goods moving as smoothly aspossible. But given the range of factors that can affecta supply chain, changes in operational control willlikely need to happen with the cooperation andassistance of other departments.That should not be a surprise to SCM professionals.They already understand the complexity of interactionsinvolved in a supply chain. Data integration onlyunderscores the tangled nature of decision making.A GIS-driven supply chain action can actually becomea simultaneous operational change for multiple partsof the business. This entails a level of cooperation thatcan be difficult to achieve.StrategyWhile GIS implemented in SCM should bring a higherlevel of cooperation in operations across the divisionsof a company, it has the potential to make an evengreater impact on broader strategic decisions. Theunderlying issue of sub-optimization, in which onepart of a process or system gains efficiency at theexpense of overall operations, is a serious concernthat must be addressed.Since SCM professionals use extensive sources ofinformation to improve supply chain operations,they often encounter issues of how to balancedifferent aspects of the company. Those types ofAn organization needs the disciplineand nimbleness to take advantageof opportunities or mitigate problemsas they arise.
  • 15. AmericanSentinel.edup.13strategic decisions must be made at a high level,because they affect the overall performance andgoals of the company.Contingency planningSupply chain management also takes on a broaderset of concerns with GIS data-driven decision making.The number of available factors for analysis givesa company a chance to actively consider real-timechanges in conditions and to make contingency plansin response.However, moving from planning to execution canbe a significant leap. An organization needs thediscipline and nimbleness to take advantage ofopportunities or mitigate problems as they arise.Building the capabilities will take time, so for someperiod it may be that SCM professionals will identifyopportunities or problems without the full ability toreact promptly enough.Business continuityBusiness continuity—the robustness to continueoperations even in the face of major disruptions—has become another important undertaking forcompanies in which the cost of down time can often bemeasured in thousands of dollars or more per hour.Many companies focus on the physical locations ofemployees, facilities, and IT systems. But operationsalso depend on the geographically disparate elementsof a supply chain. GIS can help SCM professionals adaptthe supply chain as necessary, choosing alternate routesfor goods, shifting distribution points while materialsare en route, or moving orders to suppliers that are notin an area affected by some disaster.Risk managementThe most subtle implication for GIS-enabled supplychain management is integrating the practice intocorporate risk management. Typically a high-levelactivity, executives use risk management to considerfactors that could adversely affect the company and tobalance them with potential mitigation efforts.Supply chain weaknesses offer some of the biggestrisks that companies face. A strategic failure canstop operations and prevent revenue-generatingtransactions. Real-time GIS analysis integrated withrisk management can help identify acute at-riskscenarios and aid a company in minimizing risk.
  • 16. AmericanSentinel.edup.14As the previous chapters have shown, the benefitsthat GIS tools and analysis can offer supply chainmanagement are extensive. Gaining the advantagesrequires the proper knowledge and experiencein computer technology and data analysis. Thecombination of necessary skills and backgroundare not normally found in a traditional supply chainmanagement career path.Graduate-level instruction and experience, or theequivalent, are necessary to support the array of skillsand activities needed to establish an SCM strategy thatleverages GIS. Some SCM professionals might opt toreturn to a traditional college campus to gain what theyneed. But many people cannot easily walk away fromtheir careers and lives to pursue their professionalgoals and ambitions.GIS graduate studiesFor such SCM professionals, online programs likethose at American Sentinel University may bean answer. With an online Master of GeospatialInformation Systems program and an online GeospatialInformation Systems graduate certificate, people inthe SCM field can obtain the intensive training theyneed to make GIS part of their professional practice.The 36-credit-hour master’s degree program teachesprofessionals to apply geospatial technologies andvisualization strategies to real-world systems formodern-day problem solving. The online GIS master’sdegree offers students two program tracks to choosefrom: a course track and a project track. Both tracksinclude five core courses, several elective courses,and a GIS project, but the project track allows studentsto complete a more comprehensive geospatial projectdesigned to be applied to a tangible workplace issue.The 15-credit-hour graduate certificate offers a cross-disciplinary curriculum that focuses on the real-worlduse of geospatial information to address organizationalchallenges. Students learn to use tools that enablethe integration of visual, spatial, temporal, social andcontextual information into the working environmentto more effectively solve complex issues.MBA with GIS concentrationAnother American Sentinel option is the online Masterof Business Administration degree program with theGIS concentration. The online MBA program helpsprofessionals achieve an understanding of how to applydata interpretation, insight-driven decision-making andanalytical principles to address a self-defined businesschallenge or opportunity. A feature of the MBA programis the use of data concepts, including extensive choicesof courses in GIS and business intelligence, to makegood business decisions.Whatever approach professionals ultimately choose,a background in GIS allows them to use powerful data-driven management techniques and strategies andgain a more competitive foothold in their industriesand careers.Preparing for GIS-Enabled SCMGaining the benefits that GIS toolsand analysis can offer supply chainmanagement requires the properknowledge and experience.
  • 17. AmericanSentinel.edup.15Dr. Stephen McElroyDr. McElroy has been working in the GIS field since1999, as a GIS technician for the U.S. Department ofAgriculture, Agricultural Research Service, SouthwestWatershed Research Center; a senior research specialistfor the Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy and theDepartment of Soil, Water, and Environmental Sciencesat the University of Arizona; and the assistant directorof geospatial technologies for a private-sector culturalresource management company. Dr. McElroy holdsa Ph.D. in geography from the joint doctoral programat San Diego State University and the University ofCalifornia, Santa Barbara, a master’s degree in LatinAmerican studies from the University of Arizona anda bachelor’s degree in international affairs from theUniversity of Cincinnati. He also holds a GIS professionalcertification from the GIS Certification Institute.Steven Owlett, CPSM, C.P.M., CISCMSteven Owlet is a seasoned supply chain managementexecutive with 20+ years’ experience driving globalmarket expansion through supply chain setup andoptimization. Mr. Owlett experiences encompassexecutive and senior-level positions in the energy,multi-retail, and services industry segments. In addition,Mr. Owlett has a comprehensive understanding of thesupply chain process and is expert at applying advancedtechnologies to enterprise supply chains.Author Bios