“Storage Wars” Rescues Supply Chain Ignominy

CJWehlage

Take a good long look at this picture.  That’s my ignominy.  That’s my garage.

When we moved to San Diego, we loved the weather, we loved the ocean sunsets and we loved getting rid of our parka coats, gloves, scarves and tossle caps. Roddy Martin, my colleague from AMR Research, now with Accenture, often uses the term “ah-ha” moment. Up until this past year, my greatest “ah-ha” moment was watching my Boston neighbor walk away with my Arians Platinum 20-SHO snow blower.  I no longer had a need for it and he was a happy camper.  Never again was I to wake up at 4am, face the 5 degree temps, and walk up and back my driveway, blowing the snow into the woods… “Ah-Ha!”

But, in Boston, we had this dirty little secret.  A secret that  I could no longer keep hidden in San Diego.  In Boston, we had an “ATTIC”.  In San Diego, there’s no attics, no basements.  Stuff goes into the garage.  For years, we just put boxes into our attics.  Never thinking much about what it was, or why we needed it.  Occasionally, I would move the attic boxes around, putting labels on some boxes.  It made me feel like I had control on the attic.  Now, in San Diego, every box we collected for 12+ years, was sitting in the garage.

I had day-dreams of calling Darrell Sheets from the show “Storage Wars”.  They would film a segment where Dan the Auctioneer would open my garage door, and Darrell, Jared, Brandi, and Dave Hester would bid on my garage.  Wouldn’t it be great to collect $3,000 and have my garage cleaned out! Then, my wife and I would do the same old thing. Start asking questions, like:

  • What if there’s a family heirloom in one of these boxes?
  • How did we get to this point?
  • What is all this stuff?
  • Is any of this valuable?
  • Where do I begin working on this?

There I stood, looking at this garage, asking these five questions. And then I realized, these are the same questions I would ask about the ERP system when I led supply chain organizations.  In some cases, we had multiple ERP instances. In all cases, my “single” ERP Planning solution was made up of multiple modules…  Each with its own data structure and each with its own DBA team and development team.  Least we not forget, I had “boxes” of excel files as well.  I had multiple versions of the truth.

And that’s not the worst part!  My supply chain was made up of 1st/2nd/3rd Tier suppliers, 3PL’s, 4PL’s, distributors and retailers.  Last I checked, NONE of them were running my ERP system.  I had a whole other team called “BI” (business intelligence) that managed this. Agility was constrained by the lack of timely information.  People say “information is power”. I beg to differ. I say “informative decisions is power.”

Innovation leads to real change

So, as I pondered what to do about my garage, I borrowed lessons learned about we did with our ERP.

  Garage ERP System
What’s the primary purpose? Park car Transactions
Quick access to Key Decisions? Shelving on wall Planning System of Record
How to break the cycle? Think about the entire living space & storage Think about decisions in the end to end network
Informative Decisions? What do I need quick access to? How can this network know sooner & act faster?

The “ah-ha” moments are the catalyst to innovation.  Staring at my packed garage, the “ah-ha”, or better said “ughhh” moment, made me rethink the storage process and purpose of the garage.  The same held true back when I looked at my ERP system.  I had to rethink my planning process, since my network was made up of global nodes, using any old ERP system.  The “ah-ha” moment for ERP was that its purpose was a transaction system.  The end to end network required real time technology, from a single data source that could “know sooner and act faster”.

My garage is now cleared out and organized.  It serves the primary purpose of parking my car.  As well, I’ve mapped the end to end processes that require storage, resulting in quick access to key items in the garage.

 

CJWehlage

CJ joined Kinaxis in 2013 with the responsibility to guide the company’s industry strategy within the high tech vertical. With extensive experience, both as a supply chain practitioner and an industry research analyst, CJ serves as a strategic advisor to the company, while also supporting global field teams and working with prospects and customers as they define and pursue supply chain excellence strategies. C.J. Wehlage has over twenty three years of industry experience as a supply chain professional, researcher, and technologist. Before joining Kinaxis, he was VP of High Tech Sales at Jonova, and prior to that, VP of Supply Chain at Sony Electronics. CJ was also ran the High Tech Practice at AMR Research, responsible for supply chain best practice research & thought leadership in the high tech industry. In addition, Wehlage has held leadership roles at EMC, where he was responsible for S&OP, Manufacturing M&A, Supply Chain IT, and Lean design; Bose, where he led a large scale ERP integration, and Apple, where he led Pacific Operations & WW Desktop Planning. C.J. has also served as an adjunct professor at Northeastern University, APICS CSCP, Six Sigma Black Belt, and a frequent speaker at supply chain conferences.

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Discussions

  1. YUUUUP!!

    Welcome to Southern California. My solution was to build shelving in front of the cars with doors so I don’t have to actually see the boxes every day. I also laid down plywood in the rafters of my garage and put more stuff up there!! I am slowly getting rid of everything that has not been touched since we moved into the current house 12 years ago. Anything that can be used is being donated.

    My current client just consolidated 4 separate instances of RapidResponse into one Enterprise environment. Everyone can now see all the data and we can better leverage our core resources across the entire user community.

    Regards,
    Doug

  2. Doug – love it – Darrell Sheets lives up in Temecula. I see Hester is coming back to the show.

    Great idea – I’ve yet to do the rafters – been looking at the Home Depot ceiling racks. Thanks for the note on consolidation of ERP’s. Greatly appreciated.

    C.J.

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