Study Identifies Best Approaches to Survive Supply Chain Complexity

Joint APICS and Michigan State University study offers solutions to a major industry challenge

CHICAGO--()--Today APICS, the premier professional association for supply chain management, and Michigan State University (MSU), announced findings from their latest report, “Managing the Complexity Paradigm.” The new report addresses the increased complexity of today’s supply chain flow, which supply chain leaders cite as the top challenge they face. Omnichannel marketing has opened several new flows to the marketplace (direct from manufacturer, through distributors, and direct to home), and consumers are looking for more customized products. The report discusses the balance between managing complexity that can increase cost but also has the potential to increase revenue. This is the fourth report released in APICS and MSU’s Beyond the Horizon research project, which aims to identify and provide solutions to the most pressing issues facing supply chain managers.

“The partnership between MSU and APICS enables us to gain insights into the needs of supply chain professionals and their employers and provide them with content that solves real-world problems,” said APICS CEO Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE. “The newest Beyond the Horizon report provides individuals and organizations with meaningful research around supply chain complexity, a framework for understanding its drivers, and insights into how to effectively manage it.”

For this report, APICS and MSU gathered data via comprehensive interviews with 50 global supply chain firms. The research found that firms are experiencing increased complexity due to a constantly growing number of products, customers, channels, and geographies. The four primary sources of supply chain complexity are summarized as:

  1. Customer Accommodation: Customers expect ever-increasing speed and visibility of process, and variety and customization of products.
  2. Operations Globalization: As supply chains expand into more varied global customer markets, substantial variations in existing supply chain processes must occur.
  3. Supplier Complexity: Globalization means developing and maintaining strategies to overcome the complex and often serious issues associated with local sourcing.
  4. General Business and Supply Chain Trends: The industry push to omnichannel supply chains is exacerbated by day-to-day business concerns, like technology turnover or company mergers.

In addition to investigating the nature of complexity-related issues affecting supply chains, the researchers also asked study participants how they were tackling complexity in the supply chain flow. Finding ways to avoid and preemptively mitigate complexity was the leading strategy reported, as well as relying upon collaborative partnerships, integrating modern information technology, engaging leadership and establishing more flexible operations. For more information on managing complexity in the supply chain, follow this link to read the full report.

“Managing the Complexity Paradigm” is part of Supply Chain Management: Beyond the Horizon, a multi-year research project conducted by MSU’s Eli Broad School of Business and supported by the APICS Supply Chain Council and the John H. McConnell Chair in Business Administration at MSU.

About Eli Broad College of Business

Michigan State University’s Eli Broad College of Business prepares students to make business happen through an innovative curriculum and collaborative culture, guided by a distinguished faculty. The hardworking, team-oriented students of Eli Broad College acquire deep knowledge of their chosen disciplines and a broad understanding of how global businesses work, enhanced by study abroad and real-world projects in research centers and experiential labs. The college, consistently ranked among the top business schools, offers undergraduate, graduate, and executive development programs. Broad graduates are ready to tackle business challenges around the world, part of an unparalleled peer and alumni network.


APICS is the premier professional association for supply chain management and the leading provider of research, education and certification programs that elevate supply chain excellence, innovation and resilience. The APICS Certified in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), APICS Certified Supply Chain Professional (CSCP), APICS Certified in Logistics, Transportation and Distribution (CLTD) and APICS Supply Chain Operations Reference Professional (SCOR-P) designations set the industry standard. With over 45,000 members and approximately 300 channel partners, APICS is transforming the way people do business, drive growth and reach global customers. For more information, visit


INK Public Relations
Blair Poloskey, 512-382-8983



INK Public Relations
Blair Poloskey, 512-382-8983