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All parties benefit from collaborative projects in education

Students had the opportunity to tackle real-life challenges in the CAPSTONE course on supply chain management
Toimitusketjujen hallinnan Capstone-kurssin loppuesitykset
Time for the final presentation of the project. The team that worked on the Kemira project, Luukas Leino presenting. Photo: Katri Kauppi

The CAPSTONE course on supply chain management ‘Future-proofing supply chains’ taught by Professor Katri Kauppi, started this year as it did last year. This Master's level course at the School of Business consisted of lectures, workshops and group work. The six-week course included one major project, which students worked on in groups. Students were able to increase their understanding of the megatrends affecting future supply chains and learn about tools that can be used to design strategies for future supply chains. These tools include scenario-based thinking and risk management tools.

‘The students got to work on real challenges in three companies, Reima, Posti and Kemira. Before the course started, I gave the students a few pages of descriptions of each project to read. They were asked to rank the projects in order of preference. The students' wishes were so well shared that everyone was able to work on their dream project,’ says Katri Kauppi.

Fresh ideas from students

Henrikki Onnela was part of one of Posti's project teams tasked with forecasting demand for Posti's postal services up to 2030. As part of the project, the team had to develop solutions to help the Postal Services business group respond to the global decline in demand for traditional postal services.

‘My interest was specifically in Posti from the beginning, as I have previous experience in e-commerce with a 3PLogistics company. This project with Posti provided really valuable hands-on experience, as we were able to analyse real data from a very specific company. We were guided and sparred in depth by Ville Hallavo, Posti's Head of Strategic Development, and I really got to apply perspectives from my previous work experience from a slightly different side of the logistics industry.’

Henrikki Onnela says that for him, the biggest benefit of the Posti's project was to be able to practice solving a large and complex problem. ‘The work and analysis we did ended up being very close to how Posti itself has worked through the same situation. We were able to really think about ideas for development that were worth considering, including some things that the postal service hadn't really looked at at all.’

Reima was represented at the course by Senior Planning Manager Sasu Mäntyniemi. He explains that this was the second time Reima had taken part in the course and ‘having learned a lot from last year" they now gave the students a slightly more concrete problem. "This year, we focused on optimising product returns and the related logistics process (the so-called reverse logistics model) in Reima's online store. We hoped that the students would come up with practical solutions that we could further refine and/or implement ourselves.’

‘The suggestions for solutions and improvements we received from the students partly exceeded our expectations, given the short duration of the course and the data available, and gave us really good ideas that we can work on ourselves. The students were well prepared for the case presentation, where they were able to ask us questions about their plan and how to go about solving the problem. The presentations of the completed projects at the end of the course were also excellent. I hope we will be able to attend the course again next year.’

Linda Lampola was part of the Reima team tasked with understanding the strengths and weaknesses of the current process by analysing the data provided by Reima and learning how other players in the industry operate. ‘We offered development points that take into account financial, operational and accountability aspects and made an action plan to implement them.’ 

‘This project made me realise for the first time how much of a burden product returns are for both businesses and the environment. On the other hand, the logistics of product returns also has a lot of potential, for example in the circular economy. I believe that more attention will be paid to this in the future and that it will become a competitive advantage for companies. I would say that, in general, the things we learn in school are more complex in real life, so these kinds of real-life exercises are really instructive.’

The value of using data and analytics

Kemira was represented at the course by Supply Chain Director Jussi Tan. He leads the Global Planning team, which is responsible for developing Kemira's supply chain management globally.

‘I have never been involved in this kind of partnership with universities before. Having graduated from the School of Business myself, I knew Katri from those days, so when she contacted me, I said yes. In this kind of collaboration, you always want an outside perspective and up-to-date thinking that you don't necessarily see from inside the company. There is also an interest in using academic and other methods.’

The project offered by Kemira allowed students to analyse and redesign the supply network of a global manufacturing company to achieve an optimal balance between efficiency and accessibility.

Jussi Tan is pleased that the university is investing in the use of data and analytics. ‘It's an area and a skill that is valued. If and when you can use data in your own argumentation and show facts through it, then your own competence and ability to present your own facts is stronger than otherwise. The experience of this course was very good and we are interested in continuing to work together in the future. It is useful and refreshing to work together in this way, and to establish contacts with future potential employees.’

Katri Kaupin Capstone-kurssi, Case Kemira
Katri Kauppi (left), Kemira representative Jussi Tan and a group of students working on a project provided by Kemira. Photo: Terhi Ollikainen

Further information:

Katri Kauppi

Katri Kauppi

Professori (Associate professor)
E704 Dept. Information and Service Management

Department of Information and Service Management

The Department of Information and Service Management refers to the creative use of information and digital technology in business and the move from industrial to service dominant forms of production.

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