Contents Introduction. 2 Benchmarking for suppliers. 2 Cost of the products. 3 Accounting practices of the supliers. 3 Delivery conditions of the suppliers. 4 Logistics. 4 Risk Management 4 Storage. 5 Security. 5 Accessibility. 6 Human Capital 7 Cargo Scheduling and Inventory control 9 Conclusion. 10 Recommendation. 11 Benchmarking suppliers for Sun and Sports Introduction The concept of benchmarking in supply chain management enables business entities to evaluate the processes of business operations to those of the standard operations in the industry (Cohen & Roussel, 2005). Through benchmarking strategies, the supply chain department of any commercial entity is capable of assessing whether the performance metrics of a specific business are in tandem with the best practices in the industry (Cohen & Roussel, 2005). For any commercial enterprise to be able to achieve distinction and subsequently be segmented as meeting the threshold of the standards of the industry, the company must be capable of meeting the thresholds that have been calibrated by the industry (Cohen & Roussel, 2005). In the context of the case study, this work will explore some of the factors that help in the benchmarking process in supply chain management a) Cost of the products This is the most important factor in the benchmarking process. Any supplier with an intention of supplying products into the market must be able to develop a favourable price dependant on the market forces. Products in the market should be competitive in terms of costing and the quality. In the process of benchmarking suppliers, it is important for the entity to propose pricing guidelines that will meet the quality threshold and at the same time, meet the price ceilings that have been established by the supplies management. As a factor of benchmarking, the firm will scout for suppliers that will enable the institution get its value for money. In scouting for its suppliers, Sun and Sports will have to engage the firms that have expressed interest in a cost evaluation procedure. Evaluating the firms against each other in terms of their pricing will entail an elaborate process of assessing the cost of production of the suppliers to be considered. Price variance is as a result of various factors and these must be evaluated during the assessment for procurement appraisal. Sun and sport should be able to generate the rationale behind the price variations between the firms expressing interest in its supplies. Other factors constant, the price index of the products to be supplied should meet the market thresholds. Quality notwithstanding, the need to be able to offer competitive prices based on market research should be the definitive factor of price fixation for the suppliers under investigation. Too high prices increase cost of doing business while exceedingly low prices generate the question of quality (Cohen & Roussel, 2005). As a general concept, Sun and Sport should be able to establish the causes of variance between the prices of the commodities in case the quality of the products from the prospective suppliers remains the same. In the case study used in this work, it is the obligation of the supplies manager to establish the disparities in the pricing and the factors underlying the price variance. The selection of the firm to supply the business (Sun and Sports in this case) will then be based on the results of the cost evaluation. This must be based on the maxim that the company must at all times seek to cut down on the cost of doing business with its supplier, but then again, the aspect of cost reduction must not lead to the sacrifice of quality and time. Therefore, the assessment of the price disparities must be thoroughly investigated. Company A might be supplying cheaply but after several weeks while company B might be quick in organizing for their logistics and thus make their supplies immediately but at a relatively higher cost. These are factors that must be evaluated by Sun and Sports thoroughly. b) Accounting practices of the suppliers Accounting practices within firms vary immensely. While some firms have developed a highly efficient accounting trademark as a modality of facilitating commercial transactions, others may be sunk in the bureaucratic and red tapping reminiscent of the erstwhile business practices. Assessing the modality of accounting and business practices of the suppliers is indeed an effectual activity that ensure that the supply chain management strategies formulated by the firm aids in the growth of the institution. As a priority, Sun and sports should be able to interrogate the business accounting practices of the firms listed as its probable suppliers. Sun and Sport should have the relevant platform to question the payment modes of the institutions, for example. It is expected that these assessment modalities will enable Sun and Sports to be able to decide whether the accounting provisions of the firms in question are favorable for business or otherwise Conventional procurement standards within any sector dictate that any transaction involving suppliers should be undertaken within the maximum time possible. Subsequently, the cost of transaction, other than the supply costs, must be kept as low as possible. The accounting procedures that are used to accompany the transactions undertaken should be time conscious and cost effective. Nevertheless, some firms are still hardwired in the bureaucratic traditions that end up delaying the process. While benchmarking for firms to supply an enterprise, it is important for the supplying manager to consider the accounting provisions of the institutions that have expressed interest in the supplies. According to Lamba & Elahi, (2010), it is equally important for the firm being supplied to undertake various sporadic evaluations of the terms of payment and documentation involved in the transaction to be able to establish which of the firms that expressed interest for supplies has a flexible and efficient accounting terms. This will equally enable the cash flow of the firm to be supplied to be adjusted effectively to meet the industry standards. c) Delivery conditions or policies of the suppliers Supply chain management principles insist on understanding the terms of delivery of the goods and services from the bidding firms as a means of evaluating their effectiveness. Terms of delivery of the firms to be contracted are a practical factor that must be interrogated by the firm. Companies have different delivery policies. This is a fact of supplies that cannot be ignored (Lamba & Elahi, 2010). Depending on the merchandise to be delivered and other factors, different firms have designed various delivery policies for their products from the first day o ordering to the delivery of the products. Sun and Sport should engage the firms on an evaluation of the manner in which it does its product delivery even as it compares it to the nest establishment. Settling on a firm to supply its enterprise does not rely on a singular merit, rather, the institution (Sun and Sport) should be able to compare what the firms that have expressed interest offer and the expectations of Sun and Sports. Supplies chain managers are mandated to consider the delivery arrangements offered by the suppliers to be, and whether these delivery policies are in line with the policies of the firm. In this regard, it will be the obligation of Sun and Sport to compare what the probable suppliers offer in relation to what it requires. The entities must be weighed on the pendulum of delivery efficiency and rated well, this gives the firm an opportunity to select the supplier whose delivery terms and principles, go hand in hand with the provisions of the company. Most importantly, though it is important for the supply manager to compare the terms of delivery of the bidders with those terms o delivery that have been designated within the industry. While many institutions would wish to subscribe to the best practices in the industry and to meet the thresholds that have been established by the industry, each entity has its own threshold of operation. Sun and Sport obviously has its own set of procurement codes and expectation that it expects the bidders to adhere to during the transaction engagement period. These disparities in the operational strategies of the bidders informs the benchmarking activity by to establish whether the policy guidelines of the bidders meet the thresholds set by the industry Logistic a) Risk Management Any supply chain pedigree would want to experience the least amount of risks throughout its transaction cycle (Lamba & Elahi, 2010). The management of Sun and Sport must be cognizant of the risks involved in any supply chain cycle. The need to lower risks to the lowest level is desirable for the company since it creates stability in the business. Assessing the factory outlets of the suppliers in China and Sri Lanka, the risks involved in the logistical transition of goods must be well evaluated. Are there any risks during the shipping or flights? If yes, what is the magnitude and how are the two suppliers dealing with these risks. The outlet in China should be convincing enough in terms of the insurance establishments to avert or cover risks that may be involved in the logistical planning. Likewise, the factory outlet in Sri Lanka shares in that too. The supplies manager of Sun and Sport must account for any level of risk involved in the whole supply chain strategy. b) Storage Sun and Sports is obligated to assess the storage and warehousing capacities of the Colombo (Sri Lanka) and the Chinese supplier. Cognizant of the nature of the products that the two suppliers are mandated to deliver to the company, warehousing indeed becomes a very paramount supplies aspect that cannot be overlooked. In terms of the storage, do the two suppliers, Colombo and Shanghai have the relevant storage infrastructure to be able to offer them to the Company? If yes, are they within the international acceptable standards? These are very practical queries that Sun and Sport must seek responses to. International standards of storage should be adhered to in case the wares to be supplied are required to retain their quality even after docking in Dubai. If the warehouses exist, how sufficient is the space? As compared to Colombo, does the Shanghai factory outlet provide a wider storage platform? What are the safety standards? The management should be able to inspect and establish whether the storage facilities within the factories of the two suppliers meet the threshold required in handling their cargo. This should be based on the metrics of security from any form of mischief, maintenance of quality of the products since exposure to the external conditions may compromise the quality of the products. c) Security Security of the wares is an integral aspect of supply chain management that cannot be overlooked (Lamba & Elahi, 2010). The cycle of supplies is basically made complete through the component of security. In appraising the capacity of a supplier to be able to meet your requirement of wares and suppliers, it is very important to interrogate the security measures established to ensure the safety of wares from their moment of production, to the storage of the products and throughout the transportation of the wares to their preferred destination (Lamba & Elahi, 2010). In reference to the case study, the supplies manage must evaluate security as an establishment in the two entities contracted to supply Sun and Sports in the Middle East. Visiting the factory entails the assessment of the security procedures that have been established by the companies as a way of preventing loss of the wares through theft. Screening and the subsequent validation of the contents of the cargo marks the spine of any security arrangement within the supply chain standards. A tour to the factory outlets of the qualified bidders is able to reveal the security standards in terms of the validation of the cargo to be transport. In this case, the manager will assess whether the companies that have been prequalified have the necessary security infrastructures to be able to deliver the cargo to the destination without any interference. Are the factory outlets of Sri Lanka and China able to offer the required security levels for the products and secure them from any form of damage of theft? If yes, what are the strategies used? Are they sustainable in terms of securing the products either within the factory outlets in Sri Lanka and China? d) Accessibility Any logistical planning for any organization is tethered around transport activities. Transport defines the concept of supply chain and logistics. Therefore, Sun and Sand must be able to ensure that the element of transport as a definitive aspect of supply chain and logistics is taken care of during such transactions. Of course, accessibility is a subset of transport whose significance in the supplies framework is key. Throughout the assessment of the factories in either China or the Sri Lankan factory establishment, it is important to explore the accessibility of these outlets to major gateways to the Middle Eastern markets where the cargo would be destined to reach. Through accessibility, the managers will explore other important factors such as the board and transport network in the area. Will the transport and communication networks in the area. It will be important for Sun and Sport to establish if the factory outlets in China and Sri Lanka are served with sufficient transport links that will enhance the movements of the supplies and ensure that delivery of the products is done within time and above board. Logistical planning must at all times, factor in the aspect of transport pathways as a significant aspect of supply chain management. Accessibility, according to Cohen & Roussel (2005), should not only be in terms of transport only, it must be emphasised that the two outlets be ?accessible in terms of communication. The need to correspond between the two stakeholders, the Dubai office, and the two factory outlets (Shanghai, China and Colombo, Sri Lanka) is vital. Informational accessibility should entail the need to contact the factory outlets through all means of communication deemed relevant and in the quickest time possible. Major company establishments regard communication as a vital tool for enhancing business supply chain framework, but then there is the reality of communication breakdown especially in cases where the company outlets of the suppliers could be based on areas where the infrastructural development of the communication system is still not enhanced. During the appraisal visits, Sun and Sports should ensure that he communication accessibility between the Shanghai factory outlet, and the Colombo establishment is impeccable. Institutions should have a choice between several communication tools at their disposal. Likewise, Sun and Sport should be able to use any communication strategy it so desires to communicate with the two outlets in China and Sri Lanka without any fear of a breakdown at some point. This emphasizes the relevance of communication in the supply chain cycle. e) Human capital The capacity to supply certain volumes of commodities inherently depends on the human resource capital available to undertake such projects. Any firm that expresses its interests in supply certain products, must do so within its capacity to procure and deliver the goods. Incidentally, when evaluating the firms that have expressed interests in undertaking supplies, the procurement officers form Sun and Sport should be able to ascertain the capacity of the two suppliers to meet the supply targets of the company. Evaluation of the human resource and the entire workforce of the institution will enable Sun and Sport to establish whether the Chinese and the Sri Lankan outlets are in a position to handle the requirements of Sun and sports in their supplies agreement Cargo scheduling and inventory control To meet the business demands of the market. Sun and Sport is thus capable of using these pointers on a visit to the factory premises of the two suppliers, to establish the capability of the suppliers in supplying the relevant products to the institution. Transit time by sea: comparative analysis of the schedule between the current suppliers and the former suppliers Los Angeles to Jebel Ali (Sports clothing supplies within six weeks cover) Colombo, Sri Lanka to Jebel Ali (Sports clothing supplies within six weeks cover) Algeciras, Spain to Jebel Ali (Sports footwear supplies within three weeks cover) Shanghai, China to Jebel Ali (Sports footwear supplies within three weeks cover) The data used in the scheduling have been retrieved from OOCL.com. The data used are true schedules of cargo ships and have been used in the paper to explain the scheduling in reference to the inventory levels Doing a comparative evaluation of the shipping schedule of the new suppliers and the old suppliers, it is important to take note of the effects of the travel duration on the inventory levels as instituted by Sun and Sports. From the OOCL shipping schedule used in this discussion, the estimated number of days for the shipment to reach Jebel Ali port from Los Angeles carrying clothing is approximately 41 days. Providently, the use of Colombo route in Sri Lanka takes an approximated 30 days in the sea. This means that Sun and Sport will have saved an approximated 11 days using the Colombo route. Taking into account the inventory levels of the sports clothing supplies done by Sun and Sports of 6 weeks, the assumption is that there is no point of making any review of the levels of inventory in Dubai. The estimated duration of shipment gives the management sufficient time to exhaust the wares that are in store before replenishing the warehouse with new stock. In terms of the sports footwear supplies, the approximated duration taken for the shipment of the products from Spain to Juba is 29 days. This is in comparison to the 20 days that will be spent in the transportation if the supply is shifted to Shanghai China. Essentially, there is a total of 9 days ?saved if the company will shift its supplier from Spain to China. Putting into consideration the inventory level of 3 weeks that the company has formulated, it means that Sun and Sports has to restructure its inventory policies regarding footwear supplies otherwise, there is a likelihood of the Dubai stores running into shortage in case of a delay. The most viable suggestion is to increase the volume of footwear supplies by a specific scale factor. The increment of the supplies must take into account the infrastructural capacity of the company to store the products (Lamba & Elahi, 2011). Assuming other factors constant, then to remain continuous in the supply cycle to the clients, Sun and Sports must seek for an option of increasing the footwear cargo that is being shipped to the Dubai market. Through this, the inventory level will remain the same (since this is largely a factor of market forces of the product mobility) and the company will have sufficient products for the clients before the next consignment of goods arrive from China. Conclusion There are several indicators used to define the capability of an entity in meeting the supply threshold of an institution. In this case study, Sun and Sport can rely on several infrastructural establishments within the premises of Colombo and Shanghai suppliers to confirm if indeed the two suppliers are able to meet the supply requirements of Sun and Sports. While these determinants are many, there are major pointers of the firms ? capabilities to meet the supply threshold of the company as demanded by the standard business practice in the procurement industry. This paper has extensively debated on some of the major determinants that businesses should look for while trying to benchmark suppliers that are able To meet the business demands of the market. Sun and Sport is thus capable of using these pointers on a visit to the factory premises of the two suppliers, to establish the capability of the suppliers in supplying the relevant products to the institution. Going global in business presents numerous challenges. One of the most prominent challenges is the need to maintain the supply chain and keep the products in the market always(Taylor, 2001). This work has explored the significance of supply chain management in the advancement of the business growth and continuity. Through the analysis of benchmarking in supplies, the paper has outlined the rationale for benchmarking suppliers in the global market to ensure that value for money of the products paid is achieved. Recommendations Sun and Sport must be considerate of the need to lower the cost of business to the least index possible and still retail quality as a business philosophy. In doing this, the company must continuously admit suppliers whose business philosophies are in consonance with Sun and Sports. Most significantly, the operational metrics of the suppliers must be standard and competitive. Secondly, as a way of managing the inventory, the company should attempt to shift between various models of inventory restructuring because the issues that may arise in logistics are not predictable. To ensure continuity of supply, Sun and Sports should remain dynamic in the management of its inventory levels. References Cohen, S., & Roussel, J. (2005). Strategic supply chain management the five disciplines for top performance. New York: McGraw-Hill. De, S. (2011). Supply Chain Process Benchmarking Using a Self-Assessment Maturity Grid. Supply Chain Management. Lamba, N., & Elahi, E. (2010). When Supply Chain Strategy Does not Match Supply Chain Capabilities. Issues and Principles Cases on Supply Chain and Distribution Management, 159-177. Taylor, D. (2001). Manufacturing operations and supply chain management: The lean approach. Australia: Thomson Learning.