At this point in the year, MSCM students have built foundational technical skills, effective team management and leadership skills, and dug into various supply chain concepts. It is the perfect time to combine what they have learned in the Master of Supply Chain Management program so far, and apply to what some would say is the core class: Forecasting, Inventory Management and Supply Chain Analytics with Professor Kamran Moinzadeh. “With this course, we can arm ourselves with the most powerful tools to solve supply and demand mismatch issues, help companies meet customer demands, and determine the cost of achieving a competitive advantage,” says current MSCM student, Jesse Wu.
Making Sense of the Mismatch Between Supply and Demand in Supply Chain
A supply and demand mismatch, or imbalance of the amount of supplies with their need in the market, is always an issue and can happen along any sequence of any supply chain. “The Apple launch of iPhone is a good example of this,” shares Jesse. “When they launched the iPhone models 4,5,6, & 7, people were forced to wait up to 2-4 weeks to be shipped their new model. That happened because Apple didn’t have the capacity to produce enough iPhone supplies to fulfill the demand in the market.” Case studies like Apple’s are what students study in this course. They learn how forecasting models can help predict demand, and manage production to keep customers from waiting or moving to their competitors. “We know that when customers don’t get what they need in a timely manner, they may choose to go to another brand, and that’s what forecasting models and inventory management can help us avoid.”
Concepts have gone from theory to application. Students find that they can take case studies, like Apple’s, and apply them to past experiences. “In my previous role at an airline company, I had this same issue, but I didn’t know how to solve it at the time,” Jesse recalls. His job was to predict the amount of commercial cargo an airplane could carry while managing weight limitations from passengers aboard. “The air freight has a maximum weight limitation, so the more passengers we had onboard, the less capacity we had to carry cargo. I needed to forecast how many customers would be flying with considerations for how many passengers would possibly book last minute or not show up at all.” Jesse recognizes that with the tools he’s learned from courses like this one, if he was back in that role today, he’d be able to use metrics like a moving average to improve his forecast model and sell more cargo space.
Practice Makes Perfect
If this course sounds technical, that is because it is. Many students are quick to point out how dense the material can be. “This course is quite loaded,” admits Jesse. “There is a lot of mathematics involved and sometimes the professor needs to review the formulas multiple times to make sure we understand it and know how it’s applicable to the cases.” Professor Moinzadeh teaches formulas in-class by guiding students through the numbers and data, showing examples of how the formulas are used differently across the industry, and then handing out exercises to allow students to practice. “To me, hearing how Professor Moinzadeh explains the application of formulas across the industry is one of the most valuable parts of the class,” says Jesse.
However technical and difficult the material might be, students are eager to apply their new chops to real life scenarios. Four students got one such opportunity at the Deloitte Case Competition, a case competition where they competed against other graduate school teams in solving relevant supply chain and operations issues for the Deloitte company. “The formulas, mathematics, and methodology from our courses were really applicable in these cases and it was great to get to practice them on a real life problem,” shared Jesse. A more immediate opportunity to practice their new skill sets is also built into the course. An instrumental piece of the course lies in participating in simulation games conducted by Professor Moinzadeh which engage students in applying techniques to manufacturing processes and working with other companies to increase supply chain revenue. Simulation games like these help students grasp complex concepts and experience nuanced situations first-hand.
A Cohort You Can Rely On
For a course with so many events and high–level mathematics, students need and have found ways to stay atop of it all. “It takes a lot of time to digest the content and formulas, but this is where I am glad our program is cohort-based,” shares Jesse. “I can always rely on my classmates. We have found that it is really helpful to work together, especially if we can utilize everyone’s strengths. It makes our study experience easier and we learn a lot more.” Now that is a great formula for success!
Would you like to see more supply chain management courses? Visit our website to learn about the skills you can gain with a Master of Supply Chain Management at UW.