Archive for November, 2008

The green supply chain’s impact on the future of supply chain management

Published November 14th, 2008 by Randy Littleson 0 Comments

The price of oil over the last year has had a dramatic impact on supply chains around the globe.  In this video, we spoke to Larry Lapide, MIT demand management research director, about the implications of oil prices on the supply chain and on supply chain management processes.  Larry describes how superior supply and demand matching can provide a more energy efficient and green supply chain.


If you are unable to view the video above, please try this link: Larry Lapide, MIT - Greening the supply chain.

You can see more in our series of discussions with Larry here:

Posted in Supply chain risk management

Subscribe to The 21st Century Supply Chain…for free!

Published November 13th, 2008 by Randy Littleson 0 Comments

This would go into the category of a public service announcement…

In case you weren’t aware, you can actually subscribe to The 21st Century Supply Chain blog and have updates automatically sent to you…for free!  You can subscribe via email (top right here) or via RSS.

Increasingly, web sites that publish new content on a regular basis provide a list of news headline links to their latest content. In addition to displaying these headlines on their own web sites, many publishers make them available for syndication using RSS (a dialect of XML) or “Really Simple Syndication.” That way, these syndicated headlines can be included in other web sites and newsreaders, however, they won’t include the full text of articles. By clicking on the RSS feed headline, you will be taken to the original site to read the full article.

RSS news feeds can be read by a variety of feed aggregators. Your first step is to choose a newsreader. Then look for the  logo on our site. Clicking on it will take you to the news feed for that particular page. Then you can add the URL into your RSS newsreader.  (FYI – there’s another good explanation of how to subscribe RSS here).

If you have any questions or need help, drop me a note.

Posted in General News

Finding hidden inefficiencies in the supply chain

Published November 12th, 2008 by Randy Littleson 0 Comments

The latest edition of IndustryWeek’s Manufacturing Business Challenge is now available.  It’s called “No more belt tightening – finding hidden inefficiencies in the supply chain.”  This edition talks about a manufacturer struggling to manage costs in the poor economy.  Component prices have been on the increase and the recent runup in fuel prices has hit their total cost to serve.  The challenge proposes two different solutions for the company to consider to find and remove the hidden inefficiencies in their supply chain.

You can find all the past issues here.

Posted in Supply chain management

“Supply chain complexity must be actively managed before it EATS you!”

Published November 11th, 2008 by Randy Littleson 1 Comment

I can’t take credit for the title.  I’m at the AMR Research “The Business of IT” conference in Boston where we heard from AMR analysts, the CIOs of Merck and IBM and from Karl Braitberg who heads demand management for Cisco.  Karl gets credit for the great quote.

During his discussion, Karl commented that what drives IT investment at Cisco is the need to battle complexity.  In a company that spends $5.2 billion on R&D, you have a very robust product pipeline that creates complexity.  Thus, IT investments are to battle complexity in both IT and the business “before it eats you.”

Cisco’s view is that the right IT investments enable the supply chain team to manage increasing complexity and complexity is a reality today.

Karl described their evaluation criteria and process for recent investments in demand planning, supply-demand balancing (where they selected Kinaxis RapidResponse) and analytical forecasting and data mining.

There were also good discussions about supply chain risk management by several AMR analysts.  One of the key things they pointed to was the fact that too many people look at supply chain risk within the context of their role only – their silo.  Supply chain risk, for example, is not isolated to having a negative impact on the supply chain.  It has a financial impact, can negatively impact customer satisfaction and market share, etc.  Companies need to look at risk more holistically and IT must be an enabler.  Technology is an enabler to compliance, monitoring and managing risk.  And, most risk is at the handoffs between groups and IT uniquely understands these business processes and the associated data.

Posted in Demand management, Supply chain risk management

Mastering the slippery slope of SCM technology

Published November 11th, 2008 by Monique Rupert 0 Comments

I read a good article at Supply Chain Management Review entitled “Mastering the slippery slope of technology.”  I’ve posted a comment at the site and have provided it here as well.

## My Comment ##

I work for a supply chain management solution provider that helps in connecting manufacturers with their suppliers and this article is spot on.  The manufacturers who are most successful in this endeavor are companies where they have developed a partnership with their suppliers and they already share information.  These manufacturers have a relationship built on trust and not the supplier/vendor relationship where the supplier constantly feels “squeezed” by the manufacturer they supply.  Unfortunately, too many manufacturers do not have a true partnership with their suppliers.  In fact, some suppliers say they are unwilling to share information because they feel it will be “used against” them when it comes to renegotiating contracts.  This is a lose-lose for both the manufacturer and the supplier.

Companies need to clearly outline what benefits the supplier and the company will enjoy if they can cooperate and share critical information.  It is also important for the company to listen to their suppliers and have open, frequent and regular communication about goals, concerns, challenges, timelines, etc.  As mentioned in the article, if both companies can work well together the competitive benefits will be huge and both companies can share in the success.

Once a communication line is open and the project goals discussed and agreed upon, then the task of enabling the technology to connect the company and the supplier’s information is made much less difficult.  Enabling this technology is so important because many companies outsource most, if not all, of their supply chain and therefore, if they have full supply chain visibility into information at all points in their supply chain then they can better serve their customers, analyze what-if scenarios and make on the spot decisions, can respond quickly to changes in demand or supply and generally run their business more efficiently.

Posted in Products

Did SAP just admit that on-demand is cheaper than on-premise?

Published November 10th, 2008 by Randy Littleson 0 Comments

I came across this very interesting blog post entitled “SAP admits that SaaS is cheaper for you too” talking about SAP’s on and off moves into on-demand (or SaaS).  It raises some very interesting questions about the SAP cost structure for on-demand vs. on-premises offerings.  I’ll leave it to you to form your own judgments relative to your use of SAP, but I can just say that I know a lot of companies struggle with the enormity of their SAP projects and costs, which directly ties to the return on investment (ROI) justification.

This is one of the biggest reasons we see people abandoning their deployments of their legacy demand planning and supply chain planning on-premises systems and moving to an on-demand service like RapidResponse that can solve a variety of their supply chain challenges from a single service.

See more discussion on the adoption of on-demand services at the post “Software that works.”

Posted in On-demand (SaaS)

“Software” that works

Published November 10th, 2008 by Randy Littleson 0 Comments

Ben Worthen has a good article at his Business Technology blog at the Wall Street Journal entitled “Big companies want software that works.”  In the article, Ben discusses the decision criteria that big companies use to select technology solutions and why they are increasingly open to on-demand services to solve their needs – provided they work.

I commented on the site and have included it here as well.

## My comment ##

For global brands, on-demand software platforms provide far too much value to ignore; particularly, as this article alludes to, when real-time collaboration is necessary.

As an on-demand vendor, Kinaxis is witnessing the migration from traditional on-premise systems to online delivery of our supply chain management solution. The improved multi-enterprise accessibility and availability makes it easier (and in many cases, makes it possible where it wasn’t before) to collaborate with global team members and partners.  This is an important capability when dealing with the increasing volatility of supply and demand and having to reconcile it on a daily basis.

You’re right to point out that data security has historically been one of the biggest obstacles for adoption. But when managed with dedicated hardware, software and physical security; online services can be as, or even more, secure than on-premise servers.  In fact, many companies have higher expectations for an on-demand service around security, reliability, etc. than what they have with their on-premises implementations, so we’ve had to prove that repeatedly.  Good on-demand providers can deliver the reliability, security, and capabilities they need while completely reducing the need to procure hardware, install and manage upgrades, manage the systems infrastructure, etc.

The interest is growing to the point that the fact that we are an on-demand service is viewed as a distinct advantage to many of our prospects faced with growing pressures on IT staff and budgets.  To this point, Kinaxis signed with one of the world’s largest aerospace & defense manufacturers, certainly one of the most security-conscious companies around, for our on-demand service.

As global collaboration becomes a necessity for companies, we see on-demand services not as a trend, but a unique solution.

Posted in On-demand (SaaS)

Aligning demand-supply chain management with business strategies

Published November 10th, 2008 by Randy Littleson 0 Comments

This morning we put out a press release summarizing our recently completed Kinexions user conference.  As you’ll see in the release, we really had a great agenda this year with some excellent third-party speakers sharing some tremendous insights.  We even did some research with the attendees and the findings have been noted in the release.

I’ve also posted a couple of video interviews with Larry Lapide on “The effect of oil prices on the supply chain” and “The future of supply chain management.”


Keynotes at Kinaxis Conference Advocate Aligning Demand-Supply Chain Management with Business Strategies
Kinexions ’08 User Conference Showcases Benefits of Integrated Demand and Supply Chain Management for Manufacturers and Brand Owners

Ottawa, Canada, November 10, 2008 — Kinaxis™ Inc., provider of the on-demand RapidResponse service that empowers multi-enterprise manufacturers with the collaborative and integrated demand-supply planning, monitoring, and response capabilities required in today’s complex and dynamic world, recently held its Annual User Conference – Kinexions ’08 – in Chicago.  Attendees at the two-day event included some of the world’s largest brand owners and manufacturers, with collective revenue totaling more than $537 billion USD.

The keynote speakers for the event were Shoshanah Cohen, director of PRTM’s Global Supply Chain Innovation practice, and Larry Lapide, Ph.D, director of demand management at Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Center for Transportation and Logistics (CTL), and research director for the Demand Management Solutions Group, of which Kinaxis is a member. Their respective keynote addresses identified demand and supply chain management as a competitive advantage and corporate business strategy enabler.  Their remarks highlighted the need for companies to improve collaboration between demand and supply-side management, as well as use supply chain management to further strategic corporate goals.

Kinaxis customers shared best practices on leveraging RapidResponse as a single solution that could solve a multitude of their diverse supply chain management challenges. Case study presentations included sessions by a select group of market leaders, namely:

  • EMC
  • John Deere
  • Qualcomm
  • Raytheon
  • Teradyne

For its users, RapidResponse is serving as a platform for continuous demand-supply alignment, and enabling them to replace inefficient and ineffective legacy supply chain planning systems, ad hoc processes and multiple spreadsheets. Companies are focused on leveraging RapidResponse to support action on multiple fronts, fully capitalizing on its broad scope of benefits.  As one customer stated, their goal in leveraging RapidResponse is to continually promote “more users–more uses–more value.”

Throughout the conference, the need for integrating demand and supply management was a prevalent theme, and was overwhelmingly supported by the results of a survey completed by attendees, whereby 63 percent of respondents rated the importance of integrating planning, monitoring and response within their organization as “extremely important”.  Incorporating collaborative insight and human judgment into supply chain processes was also heavily emphasized and reinforced by survey results, with 90 percent of respondents rating its value as “important” or “extremely important.”

Learn more about the event highlights and related discussions – in particular Larry Lapide’s industry commentary offered while at Kinexions– on the Kinaxis blog:

About Kinaxis
Kinaxis™ RapidResponse is a single on-demand service that empowers multi-enterprise manufacturers with collaborative and integrated demand-supply planning, monitoring, and response capabilities. RapidResponse embraces human judgment to enable planners and front-line responders to handle unpredictable changes. Global leaders such as Casio, Honeywell, Jabil, Qualcomm, and Raytheon use RapidResponse to achieve breakthroughs in sales and operations planning (S&OP), demand management, supply management, and supply chain risk management. The results are superior customer service, improved operations performance, and a competitive market advantage. For more information, visit the Kinaxis web site at or the company’s blog at

Posted in Sales and operations planning (S&OP)