Supply Chains in Advanced Markets Should Become More Agile, Says Atradius

Atradius, a consultancy specializing in trade credit insurance, surety and debt collections, maintains that the global economy has continued to gain momentum over the past months, with a 3.1% expansion projected for this year.

Higher inflation, falling unemployment, and strengthening Purchasing Manager Indices (PMIs) all suggest higher GDP growth in advanced markets.

Atradius analysts observe that the U.S. economy leads this trend while the recovery in the eurozone becomes increasingly entrenched. The outlook for emerging markets is also brighter, as Brazil and Russia are emerging from recession, and access to finance remains favorable. While the global economic outlook is more robust than in previous years, political uncertainty remains a downside risk to stability.

However, the main challenges to the global outlook – the threat of deflation, negative bond yields, austerity, and low commodity prices – are slowly phasing out.

Global trade is supporting this recovery. After a 1.3% expansion in 2016, trade growth (12-month rolling average, y-o-y) has picked up to 3.3% as of July 2017. The stronger-than-expected expansion is being driven by intra-regional trade flows in Asia and strong import demand from North America.

Despite political uncertainty, most high-frequency indicators point to sustained growth: the global composite PMI posted held steady at 54 in September, pointing to a solid and stable rate of expansion. This has motivated some dramatic upward revisions of trade growth forecasts in 2017. The WTO raised its 2017 forecast for merchandise trade growth to 3.6% from 2.4%.

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Zara’s Agile Project Management Advantage

Zara is a fast fashion retailer that has achieved staggering success since its inception in 1975. Compared to its Zara peers in retail, Zara has one practice that helps contribute to its competitive advantage: an agile project management oriented supply chain.

Agile Project Management
Broadly, agile project management is based on the 12 principles brought forth by the agile manifesto. This manifesto forms the basis for a project management theory that focuses on iterations, adaptations, collaboration, and constant improvement. As opposed to many other project management designs, agile project management is a non-linear approach to problem solving that hopes to provide flexibility and adaptability, without having to go back to the start with each iteration undertaken.

While originally developed for software and technology problem solving, agile project management has gained acceptance in the supply chain industry for its ability to help companies adapt to market dynamics. In the same way agile project management helps a software company develop non-linear solutions to problems, agile project management allows a supply chain to creatively adapt to market evolutions without having to disrupt supply chains from start to finish. Zara has used this agile supply chain to earn a distinct and unmatched advantage in retail.

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