Posts by Alexa Cheater

Chasing perfection is killing your supply chain

AlexaCheater

Forecast accuracyThere’s no such thing as 100% when it comes to forecast accuracy. Let me say it again. One hundred percent accuracy does not exist. I don’t care how good your demand sensing is or how sure your sales team is of their market projections. It’s just not possible. Anyone who says differently is either selling something, or a deity. So why are you spending so much time trying to make the impossible real?

Time and again I’ve heard how important forecast accuracy is when it comes to improving supply chain operations. It always seems to be a priority no matter where on the maturity scale a company falls. But this practice of chasing perfection is killing your supply chain. Not slowly, over time, but rapidly, like a tsunami sweeping your profits out to sea as that one giant wave recedes. Because that’s all it takes to destroy you. One catastrophic unexpected event.

Why forecast accuracy fails

It could be a natural disaster, a drastic shift in the political landscape or even the collapse of your only tier one supplier. The unknown is your biggest supply chain weakness, and the one you’ll never see coming, no matter how great you are at forecasting. Pretending otherwise, that forecast accuracy can save you when the unexpected strikes, is foolhardy at best, a death sentence at worst.

Read the full story

Coming soon to a supply chain near you: 8 big digital disruptors

AlexaCheater

CPG supply chainEvery day it seems as if one company or another is touting they’ve just released the next big thing—that new device that will change your life. In reality, all this emerging tech, whether it’s turning your world upside down or not, is having a very real impact on how businesses manage their supply chains. None is feeling the effects more pointedly than those in consumer packaged goods (CPG), as all this new technology has fundamentally altered the way consumers research and shop for products.

That in turn is changing how organizations are manufacturing and delivering goods. As John S. Phillips, SVP of Customer Supply Chain & Global Go-To-Market for PepsiCo shared during his keynote presentation at the Gartner Executive Supply Chain Conference, this digital revolution presents enormous challenges and opportunities across the end-to-end consumer value chain.

He outlined eight emerging technologies that are most likely to drive dramatic changes across the CPG supply chain.

1. Connected home

You won’t just find smart devices in futuristic TV shows anymore. Odds are there’s one within arm’s reach of you right now. But smartphones aren’t the only device turning your home into something straight out of The Jetsons. Already on the market, Samsung has released a refrigerator that lets you see its contents in real-time directly from your phone or the in-door display panel. HP has a printer that can order ink and have it shipped directly to your door automatically. Whirlpool has a washing machine that does the same thing with laundry detergent.

Read the full story

The rise of IoT in supply chain planning

AlexaCheater

IoT Supply chain planningThere’s no denying the Internet of Things (IoT) has taken hold of nearly every aspect of our lives. With the number of connected devices estimated to surpass six billion next year and more than 20 billion by 2020, the steady stream of data these devices are providing can easily crowd and clog your supply chain planning processes if you’re not prepared.

Gartner Research Director Andrew Downard addressed the issue during his presentation at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference by outlining three macro trends affecting supply chain planning, chief among them IoT.

He defined IoT as a system of inanimate internet-connected devices linking the physical and digital worlds, and predicted that retailers engaged in IoT partnerships with major manufacturers will take significant market share from their competitors as early as 2018.

When it comes to your supply chain planning, the data sourced from IoT-enabled devices lets you continuously sense, communicate, analyze and act.

Read the full story

Supply chain leadership lessons from Dallas Cowboys legend Troy Aikman

AlexaCheater

Supply chain leadership - footballPro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, who led the Dallas Cowboys to three Super Bowl victories in four years in the early ‘90s, may not be the first person you think of when it comes to giving great supply chain advice. One thing the legendary pro athlete does know is leadership. You can’t be a great quarterback without it and that was the topic of his keynote presentation at the recent Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference.

The wisdom he shared, while not directly related to supply chain leadership, is certainly applicable to that space.

Lead from a basis of who you are

There are tons of great leaders out there, and while some have common characteristics, Aikman says ultimately, being a good leader means being true to who you are. He cautions that if your personality naturally tends to swing one way or the other between soft and caring, and tough and demanding, you’re going to need to find a way to strike a better balance. You can’t coach everyone the same way. Learn what works with your team members and be a better leader by motivating them in the way that works best for them.

This lesson comes down to gaining a better understanding of how you and your team members work individually, and as a whole. When it comes to your supply chain, understanding cross-functional dynamics, much like the dynamics between the different positions of a football team, becomes critical in overcoming the all too common issue of silos. If you properly manage the team dynamic, you’ll have a team that’s more collaborative, and ultimately a supply chain that’s better equipped to make better, faster decisions.

Read the full story

4 unstoppable forces that WILL change your end-to-end supply chain

AlexaCheater

ChangeIf there’s one thing you can count on in supply chain, it’s that things will change. Often. It could be as relatively small as a last minute order or engineering change, or as big as an industry-wide shift that sends your end-to-end supply chain spinning in an entirely new direction. At the recent Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, there was a lot of talk about the latter. As it turns out, that future state we’ve all been speaking about for years isn’t as far off as you might think. It’s already here and the impacts on your supply chain are happening right now—whether you’re aware of them or not.

Gartner Research Director Tom Enright gave an enlightening presentation on Future Supply Chains for the Digital Era and Beyond, and shared some unstoppable forces in motion right now that will change the very notion of supply chain. If you haven’t already started to embrace and prepare for this new digital future, you may already be too late.

1. The customer

Customers have always been at the heart of supply chain. That much isn’t new. What’s changing is how they want to engage and interact with it. As I mentioned in an earlier blog about the Gartner conference, customers are demanding you deliver an experience, not just a product. They want a continuous, seamless experience that blurs the lines across companies, retailers and partners.

Read the full story

Driving profitability through advanced S&OP

AlexaCheater

profitabilityAs Gartner Research Director Matthew Spooner noted in his recent presentation at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, advanced sales and operations planning (S&OP) is like a hotel. It’s “somewhere you visit, not somewhere you live.” What exactly does that mean? Essentially that while it can, and in many cases does, drive improvements to your balance sheet, it’s not a blanket, one size fits all process that applies to every aspect of your company’s supply chain.

In fact, Spooner says S&OP isn’t a supply chain process at all. It’s a business one. Also often referred to as integrated business planning (IBP), it’s just one way many businesses are evolving to stay competitive in a changing landscape. Uncertainty around high-impact events, expanded global presence, pricing pressures and increasing product mix complexity are just some of the reasons more companies are looking to kick their traditional supply chain practices into high gear.

Improving P&L

As outlined in Spooner’s presentation, companies with higher S&OP maturity are clearly seeing a positive improvement when it comes to profit and loss (P&L) statements. According to data from Gartner’s 2013 S&OP Maturity Research Study, higher maturity businesses saw a 5.6% increase in revenue, 7.5% decrease in costs and a 7.2% increase in profitability because of successful advanced S&OP.

Read the full story

ACT now to take your supply chain into the future

AlexaCheater

One message came through loud and clear during Gartner’s recent Supply Chain Executive Conference; you must ACT (aspire, challenge, transform) now if you want to have any hope in taking your supply chain profitably into the future. The conference’s theme of Aspire, Challenge and Transform in a Disruptive World featured prominently in the opening keynote address by two of the research firm’s VPs, Debra Hofman and Michael Burkett, who urged attendees to re-imagine their roles and ask how they will meet the future.

The pair talked about how disruption is the new norm. I would argue it always has been, but agree the explosion of interconnectivity and digital disruptors is causing an immediate impact on supply chain—even if the supporting technology behind it has individually been around for years. I’d also agree that to be successful it’s time to re-define the very notion of supply chain.

Providing an experience, not just a product

With more than $16 trillion exports moving between countries annually, the new reality isn’t just focused on getting the right product to the right people at the right time. As Hofman and Burkett put it, it’s about creating an experience-focused supply chain, which will force you as supply chain managers and leaders to gain a better understanding of your customers than ever before.

Read the full story

Goodbye scheduled decision-making, hello concurrent planning

AlexaCheater

Sales and operations planningThe face of sales and operations planning (S&OP) is changing. Gone are the days when sequential, isolated planning and monthly meetings based on out-of-date data are sufficient to drive stability and success.

End-to-end initiatives now span beyond the confines of a single company’s supply chain, encompassing extended supplier and customer value networks, as well. Digitization, sparked by the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT), the expanding number of connected devices and big data, is driving a shift in consumerism. Your company needs to keep pace, or risk falling behind forever.

The reality is, supply and demand waits for no one — not even your executive team.

Running a profitable global business requires speed and agility in both strategic and
tactical planning. But transitioning to a new way of looking at S&OP means saying goodbye to scheduled decision-making, a frightening thought for many. It may seem like an impossible step. How can you let go of the security of regular meetings planned weeks in advance? Or the safety of knowing those big decisions only come around once a month?

Read the full story