From theory to practice: workshop supply chain mapping, design and improvement

On 29 – 30 November 2017, Argusi facilitated a workshop on supply chain mapping, design and improvement in Nairobi, Kenya in partnership with HELP Logistics. The participants were drawn from the Logistics sub-working group of the Inter-Agency Working Group (IAWG). In total, 18 participants, mainly Logistics Officers and Managers from fifteen organisations attended the workshop.

Participants’ expectation

A key concern raised by the participants was the issue of networking among humanitarian organisations and a commitment towards collaborative processes. This is an underexploited area as there is often a focus on in-house operations regarding supply chains and management. They argued that it is difficult to sell the idea to the internal management and senior management. Additionally, the participants stated there was a lack of motivation from the already established operations and logistics group to spearhead such a process. The participants therefore hoped that the workshop would provide the tools and opportunities to explore networking and horizontal collaborative processes.

Interactive methods

The workshop was interactive and participants were encouraged to apply the concepts to real life scenarios they encountered in their work environments. In groups of 3-4, the participants discussed the content and expectations from the assignments and thereafter presented their outputs to the entire group.

Lessons learnt

A number of lessons were identified from the workshop. Specific to the central DMAIC (Define-Measure-Analyze-Improve-Control) cycle, the participants expressed that it was an easy to use tool that actually can be incorporated in their different improvement processes. It has a “user effective methodology” to express different issues with the potential to improve. Additionally, it could be used to (re)train other people in-house. A key advantage of the DMAIC was that it stimulated and strengthened team work to find practical solutions in both the short and long term. The project charter, an outcome of the DMAIC assignments was also appreciated as an efficient format for presenting improvement plans to management or representatives.

The participants identified a potential challenge to incorporating the DMAIC in the daily operations. This was in the context of its application in humanitarian situations. They pointed out that getting the relevant data is difficult and can take a lot of effort. Additionally, a top-down process of identifying KPIs is often used which makes them unrelated and difficult to measure. If there is no system in place, it is difficult to capture the relevant data. They however pointed out that the DMAIC appears to be a practical tool for gathering different views.


There is a collective interest among the humanitarian organisations to collaborate and integrate in order to reduce supply chain and logistics costs. The workshop provided the opportunity by bringing different organisations to the same location and the workshop provided practical guidelines on exploring networking and horizontal collaborative processes supply chain mapping, design and improvement.

As the trainers, we found it a hugely productively two days, and we enjoyed it a lot. We look forward to practical results and follow-up sessions.


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