Having completed multiple courses on edx.org on analytics, finance and computer science I thought about following a larger course. I obtained my Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and noticed there that there is still huge potential in Finance in regards to optimising processes, networks and digitisation. If only there was a program that helps you understand and develop skills for this. Ohh wait there is! It’s called the MicroMaster in Supply Chain Management (SCM) by MITx. For the last 8 months I’ve followed (and passed) all courses and with the completion (and hopefully passing) of the final exam it’s time to look back.
MITx is always good, but this program is exceptionally good
Having already followed multiple courses by MITx I know that the quality is always good, the staff friendly and the courses are definitely worth the investment. This time however it is different. Maybe it is due to the fact that the micromaster takes quite long to complete, but the effort put in by the organizing team and the community pays off. There are additional live sessions in which real live cases are discussed and community members share interesting articles, job postings and get togethers. It is this interaction that makes this program exceptional.
Having said that, there are more reasons why this program is so good and why every financial should follow it. First of all, it’s the data driven approach from the start that helps out. It’s through going back to statistics itself that the program lays a strong foundation. It’s this foundation that is often missing in financial departments (or organisations in general) when making decisions.
Secondly, the usage of tools such as Anylogic helped me tremendously into (re)designing processes and obtain an understanding of how my process is actually working. I tested this in combination with process mining and this shows really promising results. Although I was already familiar with the solver module in Excel, the new tips & tricks I learned helps everyone when making a business case and determine optimal solutions. For those interested in the analytics part, MITx also has a great course on improving your data analytics skills (starting september 18 again).
Lastly, the course is a really great add-on with a Lean Six Sigma certificate. Sure there is some overlap, but in general I think this program helps out in understanding the supply chain functions and issues, such as the bullwhip effect (which also heavily impacts financial departments in for example forecasting).
It is this combination that helps create an understanding of how an organisation works and operates, even when you are a services organisation or very small.
So is there any room for improvement?
For me, I would say there are only a few opportunities that could be incorporated, but this is mainly from a financial perspective. These are often opportunities which I’ve also seen in nearly all organisations that I’ve worked for, either as a consultant or in employment of the company. During the program I missed the link between Supply Chain and the backoffice departments such as finance. A huge challenge for corporations is to allocate costs to the right cost center, especially for non product related items or fixed cost allocation. The same principle goes for outgoing flows. For example, when making an ABC analysis one should also look into the details of that client, which cannot be seen in margin analyses or looking at a financial statement. Let me elaborate this with an example I encountered.
While working for an organisation we noticed that there was 1 huge client who generated 35% of all revenue and showed a positive margin. However, when diving deeper into the details we also noticed that this client was problematic in paying on time and had all kinds of regulations for processing invoices (for which additional costs were made). When we analysed the time spent for this client alone we noticed that the contract was not positive, but negative, costing the organisation a million euro’s a year. As the fixed cost allocation was not based on this principle, one could not see this deficit immediately.
Another example is the Dutch healthcare industry. In 2016 Dutch hospitals had over 1.4 billion euro’s of healthcare delivered but they could not process or send out invoices for delivered healthcare. One of the reasons was that hospitals did not incorporate the invoicing process into the whole process flow.
Information of costs should not be used as a given. In the program the holding cost for the EOQ for example are a given, while especially holding costs should not be a given. It is really interesting to calculate specific holding costs as you can pinpoint waste more easily and have better discussions on charges and distribution of costs. Especially now with the vast amount of data that is available you could connect more and more information and create an individualized cost image. Especially from a program which has details and data as it’s core foundation I would think that this is still a huge opportunity for the future.
I completely understand why Supply Chain Management at MIT is #1 in the world. I would definitely recommend everyone to follow the program and possibly also a follow program at one of the many universities where the micromaster gives credits for. Hopefully I will be able to complete the Master’s degree one day, as this program gives huge opportunities for financials.
The online learning environment of edX has several thousands of courses given by the best universities or corporations. They often represent courses which are the same as the offline variant in the top-notch university, but then more affordable. However, if you want to specialize or dive deeper into the material a single course might not help you out. Micromaster’s are introduced to overcome exactly that problem and to make it even nicer, the SCM micromaster also makes you eligible for completing a full master’s degree or MBA with less credits to be completed.
My background is a Bachelor’s degree in Business Economics, a Master’s degree in Management – Controlling, certified ISO22301 business continuity lead implementor and Lean Six Sigma Black Belt. I’ve worked for a big four organisation, one of the largest hospitals in the Netherlands and now performing an assignment for one of the largest dairy producers in the world. The work is always focussed on continuous improvement from a financial perspective.
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