September 12 - 14, 2003
Fountaingrove Inn, Santa Rosa, California

Panel Discussion: State of Global Disaster Relief
Panel Moderator: Anisya Thomas

Presentations were made by:
Alan Court, Director Supply Division, UNICEF
David Kaatrud, Chief Logistics Service, Transport & Logistics Division, World Food Programme
Robin Mays, Logistics Officer, USAID
John Rickard, Director, Logistics, International Rescue Committee

The humanitarian sector has to deal with difficult circumstances where they operate in a dynamic environment full of uncertainties. They meet the challenges in a world that is becoming even more complex with multiple emergencies and limited resources. Participants presented profiles of the logistics operations in their own organizations and a general discussion followed around the following question: What are some unique issues that are facing the humanitarian organizations that limit their operational effectiveness?

Nature of funding

  • Restrictions based on earmarking for direct relief, which limit investment in infrastructure
  • In the commercial world, strong infrastructure is recognized as a precondition to effective operations

Limited learning

  • Every disaster is reinventing the wheel
  • Each disaster is different and evolving but there is often no institutional memory
  • Innovation is everywhere but most of it gets lost because there is no effort to document or share them
  • There are lots of lessons learned but they are not easily communicated throughout the industry; the tendency is for learning to remain within the organization or department

High turnover

  • Few organizations have career paths
  • The industry is geographically disbursed and operations are often episodic and are cyclical
  • There is no community of practice for logisticians and no repository of available talent in the industry
  • Logisticians need voice, as they are often not recognized or heeded in their organizations

Presentations and Break Out Sessions:
Discussion topics were chosen to reflect the largest issues of concern to the humanitarian sector. The humanitarian logistics professionals at the Humanitarian Logistics Conference in Geneva made it very clear that metrics and training were areas requiring immediate attention. The key objective of the two main sessions was to see how the best practices and innovations in the business world can be applied to the humanitarian organizations.

In the business world, metrics has played a key role in showing how logistics and supply chain management can impact the profitability of the corporation. Metrics can be equally relevant in the humanitarian world where they can help communicate the value of logistics to the overall effort. This could be the basis of a business case for funding projects and infrastructure that will result in more effective relief operations. Metrics also provide accountability which can lead to better spending control.

Panel Discussion: Metrics
Panel Moderator: Lynn Fritz

Presentations were made by:
Michael Hortiatis, Director, Transportation & Logistics Services, Bausch & Lomb
James Molzon, Vice President of Integrated Supply Chain & Logistics, Solectron
Ludo Oelrich, Program Director Moving the World, TPG
Charlie Webster, Vice-President, Supply Chain, KLA-Tencor

Key Messages Shared by the Corporate Sector:

  • In recent years, the visibility and importance of supply chain has skyrocketed as a result of clear indicators that show its impact on the bottom line
  • Unintended results may occur if what is being measured is not clearly identified and evaluated
  • Measure what you need to improve, then control, forecast, and report it
  • A balanced scorecard approach provides the means to track and align people, projects and priorities

Break Out Session on Metrics:
The presentations from the four breakout teams were relatively consistent in showing how metrics for the business world can be applied to the humanitarian organizations.

  • Most organizations other than UN organizations have very few tools to do any kind of measurements. Humanitarian Logistics Software is an enabler.
  • A way to link performance metrics to desired strategic outcomes is to design a scorecard where you build process and have an implementation plan. Develop a menu of metrics that could be standardized for humanitarian organizations.
  • It is essential that there is common understanding among headquarters and field offices. If the intent is to measure the performance of the warehouses, and on-time delivery is one of the metrics, then the field offices must understand the objective and ultimate improvement goal for the metrics.
  • Conduct supply chain benchmarking similar to what consulting company PRTM created where it became a repository of benchmarking data that was shared throughout the industry. Fritz Institute could start a benchmarking study on behalf of the humanitarian organizations. We should explore getting donated expert resources for this project from organizations such as PRTM.

Next Steps:
The presentations from the four breakout teams were relatively consistent in showing how metrics for the business world can be applied to the humanitarian organizations.

  • Pilot the metric concepts presented at Crossroads with the International Rescue Committee (IRC) and share the data at the 2004 Humanitarian Logistics Conference in Geneva.
  • Evaluate current metrics in place at IRC during supply chain audit
  • Create a Metrics Score Card for IRC based on the business sector methodology
  • Create a network of practitioners to determine applicability of metrics from the business world to humanitarian organizations.

One of the key success factors in the transformation of the logistics profession in business has been the emphasis placed on training. Humanitarian organizations have also recognized the need to focus on training as a way to professionalize logistics in their organizations.

Panel Discussion: Training
Panel Moderator: Mitsuko Mizushima

Presentations were made by:
Keith Helferich, Vice President, SCMI
Jon Olson, Director of Global Transportation, Intel
Mike Skurski, Supply Chain Director, Dow
Brian Suckow, Director Internet Business Solutions Group, Cisco

Key Messages Shared by the Corporate Sector:

  • You can move from instructor-centric to learner-centric by creating company-based learning communities
  • Key component of any training system is to have a high level of standardization of roles, processes and tools
  • E-learning can be even more effective than classrooms which is important for humanitarian organizations with many geographical locations and restrictions on cost.
  • A global web-based management and delivery system can be an effective way to train

How is Staff Development in the Business Sector Relevant to the Humanitarian Organizations?

  • It is important to do delivery assessment, then build content and deliver it in the most effective way
  • It is necessary to understand the unique characteristics of the humanitarian relief world. More training in business leads to higher retention. In humanitarian organizations, the opposite may be true.
  • Match training and resources to the required retention and provide continuous support
  • What corporations have as off-the shelf training program may take humanitarian organizations years to develop for vocational training
  • There is a fantastic opportunity to take everything business has and use it provided we understand that there are differences

Next Steps:
Create a pilot for training by using models available from the business sector and customize for a humanitarian organization.


  • The humanitarian world is under more and more pressure; emergencies are becoming more complex, donors are looking for accountability and transparency for their money and there is increased competition from for- profit companies offering similar services.
  • Humanitarian organizations can learn from the business sector about processes, metrics and different methods for training.
  • The business community can learn about disaster preparedness from humanitarian organizations.
  • Logistics in humanitarian organizations is facing similar problems that were confronted by the logistics and supply chain people in the private sector a few years ago.
  • There are several action items from Crossroads that can be operationalized through collaboration with academics, business and humanitarian organizations.

If you simply give money, it is one thing to one organization. If you give services or create technology, this can be replicated by every other humanitarian aid organization. This means you get leverage and the result factor is bigger - Lynn Fritz

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