April 30, 2014
Delta Faucet's hunt to recruit and hire the most effective suppliers in India led them to Indiana State University. Students from the Scott College of Business offered sourcing solutions to achieve the company's goals.
Kuntal Bhattacharyya, assistant professor of operations and supply chain management, said the seeds for the project were sown in the spring of last year with a conversation about collaborating with Delta Faucet and a marketing research course taught by Sandeep Bhowmick, assistant professor of marketing.
Bhowmick's students began digging into the background of labor forces and relations in India, and their work continued in the fall with providing a comprehensive supply market landscape for India in Bhattacharyya's global sourcing course.
In a global supply chain course taught by Bhattacharyya this spring, a sub-set of the students from last fall were tasked with funneling the supplier list into a "manageable few" and creating a concrete framework for analyzing the qualifications needed to be an effective supplier for Delta Faucet.
Because of the distance from India, the students' research on the supply landscape in India was entirely Internet-based with input from Bhattacharyya, who has vast knowledge of the country.
The students came up with about 40 suppliers and narrowed it down to the 15 best candidates based on two broad categories. They looked at qualitative perceptions, which includes risk of doing business, perceived cultural gap, perceived relationship strength and perceived technological adherence; and analytical terms, which includes financial terms, quality assurance and service performance. Industry best-practices and successful research in practitioner-based supply management journals guided the students to define the categories.
"All of these factors are measureable, albeit subjectively; and we rate these against each other to see which is most important in evaluating and pre-selecting a supplier," said William Harper, a graduating MBA student who was a late entrant into the project. "It was a really technical process we've been doing the last couple of months. Our suggestion is to pick a tier-based approach, where you select one supplier from different regions and it gives you more of a feel for the landscape. The higher ranked suppliers are the ones who are closer to the coast, which offers better shipping options."
The project allowed Harper to take on the actual work of a sourcing manager and get a feel for how his coursework applies in an actual job setting. Harper also plans to travel to Delta Faucet's Indianapolis headquarters to present the findings.
"It's been fun to work on something that is in the real world," he said. "What we're doing here is taking all of the sourcing models, all of the analytics, and turning it into a presentation, a written report that accompanies all of the spreadsheet models and weigh different suppliers in India against each other based on different factors - on-time delivery, pricing- and tying it all together (for Delta Faucet)."
Daniel Millington, who is also completing his Master of Business Administration degree, said that an advantage to the approach the group took is that it creates a more diversified geographical location for the proposed supply base.
The project was an overall worthwhile learning experience for the group, which also included contributions from the following students: Chelsea Abanathie, Salem Albreiki, Marran Al Mansouri, Lydia Barker, Corlisha Mitchell, Bradley Adams, Kathryn Balch, Blake Byers, Anastasia Disser, Justin Gardner, Tanner Riley, Brye Creek, and Steven Landwer.
"I think this project has added more value to their resume, especially if sourcing and/or procurement are areas they really want to pursue as career options," Bhattacharyya said.
The students' work may be put into action soon, said Jeff Hamilton, sourcing manager for Delta Faucet, as the company has already sent a member of its team to India to start the process.
"It's impressive work they did and the terms and concepts they discussed are ones we actually use in sourcing. It's advanced sourcing really and it tells just how good of an experience they're getting to be able to do this kind of work," Hamilton said. "Some of their work had to be based on hypotheticals because they didn't have all the data, but it all still applies to the exact way sourcing managers have to think."
Writer: Betsy Simon, media relations assistant director, Office of Communications and Marketing, Indiana State University, 812-237-7972 or Betsy.Simon@indstate.edu
Contact: Dr. Kuntal Battacharyya, director of the Center for Supply Management Research and assistant professor of operations and supply chain management, Kuntal.Bhattacharyya@indstate.edu
Indiana State students put their class concepts to work helping Delta Faucet locate the best suppliers overseas.