In order for there to be any kind of significant change to South Africa’s service delivery issues, it is imperative that government implements an effective supply chain management strategy, supported by the appropriate skills.
This is according to Professor Douglas Boateng of the Unisa Graduate School of Business Leadership (SBL, Africa’s first Extraordinary Professor for supply and value chain management.
Supply chain management (SCM) involves the management of all the inter-linked activities within the supply chain, including planning, production, procurement, distribution and customer service.
“Forward-thinking governments are fully aware of the strategic importance of using effective supply chains,” says Prof Boateng. “Everything from waste collection to tourism to financial services, to health, education and service delivery in local government has a supply chain associated to it.”
According to Prof Boateng, while effective supply chain management can help with industrial competitiveness, job creation and much needed service delivery quality improvements, South Africa is hampered by a dire shortage of executive level supply chain management and procurement professionals.
“Supply chain management is still generally organised as an administrative rather than a strategic function in South Africa. The situation is no different in most African countries. Due to this, the procurement aspect of supply chain management is still not recognised as a specific profession.
“This lack of professional recognition and capability remains the largest weaknesses in South Africa’s drive for economic transformation and service delivery quality,” says Prof Boateng. “There is a relative lack of guidance for procurement officials on how to effectively integrate BBBEE with other societal and commercial considerations, resulting in increased corrupt and wasteful practices.”
To reduce these wasteful practices, Boateng says the South African government must support specialist skills development, innovatively adapt supply chain management practices and drive integrity in public and private sector procurement.
“Such a coordinated move will assist policy makers and directors to use procurement in a way that contributes to a more performance-driven use of resources,” he says.
Planning delivered by skilled Supply Chain professionals is essential to provide the necessary momentum to the National Development plan.
“If there is no strategic supply chain blueprint with a clearly defined plan on how to reach Vision 2030 as outlined in the National Development Plan, then any efforts by the National Treasury to leverage spend and increase accountability via any technological platform will simply fall flat.”
Prof Boateng is leading the drive at SBL to improve specialist skills in supply chain management.
“We have a public sector contingent engaged with our Masters of Business Leadership (MBL) programme as well as our Executive Education Programmes at SBL. We also focus on supply chain management in specific public lectures and through offering two day courses as part of an Executive Insights series focused on different aspects of Supply Chain Management.”
* The next Executive Insights Programme on Supply Chain Negotiations will be held on 28/29 October 2014 at the SBL in Midrand.