Posts by Bill DuBois

5 pieces to the global capacity management puzzle

BillDuBois

Global capacity managementRecently I was watching a video interview with David Thomas, the Director of Global Capacity Planning for Ford Motor Company. Among other things, he’s been leading the charge at Ford to deliver a global capacity management solution. He describes the process as a jigsaw puzzle. The challenge with getting a global view as he puts it, is if the pieces “don’t fit together, you don’t see the right picture.”

Ford’s challenges to global capacity management

In the interview, David describes the challenges facing Ford in fitting the pieces together. One of which is its extensive legacy. Ford has been around for 100 years and the five main regions of the company (North and South America, Asia, Europe and Middle/Eastern Africa) grew up individually. There wasn’t a need to move data and information between the regions because they had different products, teams and organizations.

Over the past few decades, the auto industry, like most other industries, experienced unprecedented changes that drove a need to transform capacity management from a regional to a global view. The 2008 downturn hit suppliers extremely hard, putting some out of business. But in 2010, an upturn in demand in emerging regions like Brazil, India and China meant capacity required varied significantly by region. But that demand didn’t match what companies had available in those areas. Thus, a global view of capacity management was required to combat these newly emerged supply chain constraints.

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It’s time for a revolution of the supply chain kind

BillDuBois

Supply chain planning systemsThere have been some pretty significant revolutions throughout history. The French Revolution, the Industrial Revolution and the Chinese cultural revolution – just to name a few.

Well, today I’m going to talk about the need for another revolution. A supply chain planning systems revolution. Will it be the stuff that future historians drool over or universities base curriculums on? Maybe. Maybe not. I’m going to discuss it anyway, because for those of us living in a supply chain world, it’s big deal.

The world is changing – new technology, globalization, shifting markets, changing demographics, global warming – you get the idea. So while everything’s been changing around us, why hasn’t supply chain planning evolved to any great extent?

Times Haven’t Changed

Across the supply chain, functions and processes still operate in silos. Excel spreadsheets remain the number one way companies manage supply chain data (go figure). Current planning systems simply aren’t designed to deliver the speed and agility needed to deal with the complexity and risks associated with today and tomorrow’s supply chain.

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The lighter side of supply chain: 10 more supply chain jokes

BillDuBois

end-to-end supply chain jokes Much has changed in the world of supply chain since we published our last batch of supply chain jokes. Supply chain disruptions continue to be the norm. Cognitive computing, IoT and big data are changing the technology landscape. Shifting demographics and supply chain talent questions leave many of us in the field scratching our heads. However, it’s not all depressing. Advances in end-to-end supply chain solutions and customer success stories show it’s a great time to be in supply chain. There are a number of events to look forward to, including the Gartner Executive Supply Chain Conference in May and the Kinaxis user conference, Kinexions in October, that celebrate our many supply chain achievements. As we get ready to take a deep breath after an exciting start to the year, we thought some cheesy supply chain humor would help us relax as we gear up to take on the rest of 2017.

So here you go, some more supply chains jokes. I apologize beforehand to all supply, demand and capacity planners, sales, engineers and statistical forecasters. We hope you enjoy!

  1. ‘I’m sorry’ and ‘I apologize’ mean the same thing. Except at a funeral or an S&OP meeting.

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Supply chain planning system revolution: Are you yanking my chain?

BillDuBois

Supply chain isolationWords get thrown around like rice at a wedding these days to describe what makes a world class supply chain planning system: “End to end visibility”, “collaborative planning”, and “what if simulation” are only a few of the many terms you hear when discussing the keys to supply chain success. Don’t get me wrong, these are all valuable attributes, but are often addressed in isolation and problems are usually tackled one functional silo at a time.

Kinaxis CEO John Sicard talked about the traditional, siloed view of supply chain during his interview with SupplyChainBrain’s Russell Goodwin. The title of the interview, Revolutionizing Your Supply Chain Planning, immediately made me wonder, “Are you yanking my chain?” The word “revolutionizing” was one I hadn’t heard in any supply chain narrative before, and with a word that strong, doubt is a natural reaction. When you hear “revolution,” you think the American Revolution, the Spanish Civil War, Batman vs. Superman. Ok, maybe not that last one, but epic supply chain battles definitely aren’t top of mind. However, Sicard got me thinking of a revolution like a rotation, a turnaround, a 180 – a way of doing things differently.

Goodwin does a great job of extracting the definition of the supply chain planning system revolution from Sicard. In this case, yanking my (supply) chain is actually a good thing. Let me explain. Mr. Sicard started by looking back with a brief supply chain technology history lesson: “Processes are disconnected because supply chain planning has grown up in a siloed manner,” he said.

Because of these functional barriers, “it’s futile to follow that model and think you can optimize the supply chain one link at a time.” Since functional processes are disconnected, it takes a significant amount of time for the impact of a change to get from one end to the other of the supply chain. In most organizations today, the supply chain is managed by looking at the individual links in the chain. That makes it difficult for individuals managing one supply chain planning process to know what the others are doing or what impact their decisions have on others.

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Supply chain risk management in 2017

BillDuBois

Financial crisis. Check. Environmental catastrophes. Check. What’s next? Is this the year of political disruption?

Supply chain risk managementWorking in supply chain is like starring in a Rocky movie. You keep getting knocked down and you have to keep getting back up.

You don’t need to go back any further than a decade to understand the many challenges supply chains have endured over the years. Interestingly enough, the first episode of Breaking Bad that aired in 2008 reflected what it was like being in supply chain risk management at the time: “Hey, a science teacher is cooking meth, how much worse could it get?”

If you were a fan of the series, you were on the edge of your seat amazed at the plot’s crazy twists and turns. My guess is people who didn’t see the show were the supply chain practitioners too busy trying to ride the storm of the 2008 financial crash.

Supply chains had to deal with squeezing margins and dramatically cut costs, which included significant downsizing. Doing more with less wasn’t an option; it was a necessity. Maybe the one good thing to come out of it was some companies figured out how they could survive with lower inventories. Some suppliers weren’t so lucky. In 2009, I’m sure most we’re thinking, “How much worse could it get?”

Well, it got a lot worse.

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2017 – The year of learning

BillDuBois

Education and training – What’s the difference?

learningFor anyone in supply chain, 2016 was an exciting and challenging year. Hot topics included advanced analytics, Internet of Things, 3D printing and robotics. Drop in all the global, economic, political and environmental challenges into the conversation and the changes needed to make supply chains survive and thrive in the future became front and center at all the top supply chain events.

At the Gartner supply chain conference back in May the theme was the “bimodal” supply chain. What exactly is bi-modal? Gartner describes it as running two modes within your supply chain simultaneously. Mode one focuses on managing day-to-day operations; mode two is all about making the breakthrough innovations needed to take on the new challenges facing supply chains.

Taking a bi-modal approach to learning

I recently sat in on a webinar that discussed learning options, subscriptions and how you can revolutionize the way your organization learns.

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All I want for Christmas is supply chain flexibility

BillDuBois

end-to-end supply chainIt’s that time of year again where moms and dads are busy gathering Christmas lists from their kids and ensuring they have exactly the right gifts under the tree. But for retailers, it’s a lot more complicated – they can’t just ask their customers to write letters to Santa; rather, they need a flexible supply chain to meet customer needs.

Impacts of seasonal demand

Wrangling demand signal information from independent toy manufacturers, clothing creators and electronics giants – whose interests don’t always match your own –  is easier said than done. And basing your sales forecasts on their word combined only with your historical data could leave you out in the cold.

Last year, Americans spent more than $635 billion during the Christmas season, accounting for up to 30% of annual sales for some retailers. With that kind of revenue on the line, it’s no wonder retailers around the globe have been gearing up for the big event for months. When it comes to delivering on your Christmas promises to customers, it’s not just which supply chain management software you use that matters. The quality of information you feed into it is key.

That information becomes even more vital in industries where forecasts are constantly changing the closer Christmas gets. Oftentimes, either you’re caught short and can’t respond to demand in time, or you don’t sell enough and are left with overstock. These seasonal surges in demand make supply chain management that much more difficult.

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Latest Polls Show We’ve Lost Faith in Polls: 3 Lessons Election Pollsters Can Learn from Supply Chain

BillDuBois

Supply Chain Polls“What happened to the polls?” next to “What now?” was likely the most frequently asked question as soon as the first results started to roll in back on Election Day. The results shocked everyone as the polls, both national and state, had Hillary consistently pegged to take her seat in the Oval Office. So what went wrong? How could the polls be so far off? What’s the likelihood of getting Canadian citizenship before January? All valid questions but let’s focus on the first two.

What’s fascinating about this is that so many polls, or let’s call them what they are, forecasts, were off the mark. All the different polling methodologies used by all the different polling organizations missed calling what was the biggest electoral spectacle in all of U.S. history. There are a number of theories floating around but all would agree the future is tough to predict. This is something supply chain practitioners live every day and not just during the election process.

Like the pollsters, demand planners in particular, model the future. However, many planners are well versed in expecting the unexpected, considering multiple variables, modeling and comparing multiple scenario outcomes and quickly adjusting plans when needed. Unfortunately for the popular vote there’s nothing we can do about 2016 but here are three lessons for the pollsters come 2020.

The lessons are actually borrowed from a post written by my colleague, Trevor Miles, from 2013 called Truth, Lies and Statistical Modelling in Supply Chain. I would recommend everyone, especially the pollsters, check out this three-part blog series where Trevor concludes “we model all of our manufacturing and supply chain systems using deterministic models, when in fact everything around us is stochastic.” You’ll quickly understand what he means when we get into the lessons.

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