Whitman School Collaborates with Staples to Analyze Supply Chain Management Opportunities

The H.H. Franklin Center for Supply Chain Management at the Martin J. Whitman School of Management at Syracuse University is collaborating with Staples, Inc., in the first of its kind relationship to bring innovation and new research to the supply chain field.

The collaboration will allow Whitman School supply chain faculty and students to analyze two initiatives. In the first project, Whitman faculty and students will analyze fulfillment operations and make recommendations regarding how Staples can further improve its inventory and distribution decisions.

“Staples already has an excellent distribution system, with the capability to deliver next-day to 96 percent of the United States’ population,” said Burak Kazaz, PhD, executive director of the Center, The Laura J. and L. Douglas Meredith Professor of Teaching Excellence and associate professor of supply chain.

Whitman faculty and students will analyze big data on customer orders and make adjustments in inventory deployment decisions to create further efficiencies. “Improving supply chain operations in an already highly effective system are a daunting task,” Dr. Kazaz said.

In the second project, Whitman faculty and students are developing a new risk assessment methodology in order to assess the risk exposure in the entire Staples supply chain. The work brings out a new perspective in supply chain risk management. The end result of both projects will be presented to senior Staples leadership at the end of the engagement.

“The H.H. Franklin Center for Supply Chain Management prides itself on its cutting-edge approaches to education,” said Dr. Kazaz. “This collaboration not only provides a unique, real-world consulting experience for our students but also will contribute greatly to Staples’ body of supply chain knowledge and to help make better business decisions. It’s the best of all worlds.”

“Programs like the H.H. Franklin Center for Supply Chain Management and the work it is doing on behalf of Staples advance the thought capital of the supply chain profession,” said Don Ralph, senior vice president, supply chain and logistics, Staples, Inc., and a previous winner of the Syracuse University Whitman School of Management Salzberg Medallion, awarded for excellence in the field of transportation and supply chain management. “Staples is supportive of the learning opportunities this engagement will provide to the next generation of supply chain professionals and sees real value in bringing a fresh set of eyes and new ways of thinking to our data analytics and risk management planning.”

“We think relationships, such as these, are the wave of the future for business programs,” Dr. Kazaz added. “The experiential learning opportunity allows students to solve real business problems to help corporations meet challenges. This makes our students more marketable when they graduate and it helps corporations find their next leaders.”

The Whitman School is home to the nation’s first supply chain management program (SCM). A specialization in traffic and transportation was first offered in 1919 when the School of Management was founded. Currently, the SCM program offers rigorous PhD, MBA, MS and BS degrees as well as executive education. Whitman’s award-winning SCM faculty is renowned for teaching, research and outreach partnerships. The program has evolved into one of national prominence with recent rankings by leading organizations and mediums including Gartner (2014 and 2011), US News & World Report (2012) and Bloomberg Business Week (2011).