Archive for the ‘Control tower’ Category

Control Tower Success: Six Critical Steps to Ensure Your Project Thrives

Published March 5th, 2015 by Melissa Clow 1 Comment

control tower diagramOur partner Celestica recently published the following article, ‘Six Steps to Ensure your Control Tower Project is Successful’. The author, Rebecca Schriver, Global Director, Supply Chain Solutions at Celestica, describes the six critical success factors to ensuring control tower projects are delivered on-time with strong end-user support.

Developing a successful control tower to manage your supply chain can be a significant undertaking. But through Celestica’s experiences in leading control tower projects, they’ve learned some valuable, hard-won lessons. If you’re considering a control tower project, we’ve pulled together Rebecca’s six lessons to harness the power of data to make faster, smarter and better decisions about your supply chain.

  1. Listen to the Data
    In traditional control tower projects, months can be spent developing data extracts in source systems before loading them into the application. Instead, try a rough-cut load using manual file inputs at the start of a project. It’s a lot quicker and helps indicate where data transformations will be required, highlights upfront technical and design challenges and validates the business process and requirements.
  2. Requirements Gathering – Changing the approach
    In Celestica’s experience, users seldom identify requirements well, and even when they do, their IT counterparts aren’t likely to perceive it all correctly. Consider the following:

    • Keep requirements gathering simple—illustrate with mock-ups instead of long wordy documents. Also, use data as part of the requirements-gathering approach to validate expected outcomes.
    • Understand the end-the-end business process as well as the inputs and outputs.
    • Outline and understand the overall objectives and key value drivers to ensure you are delivering a differentiating value from what the business uses today.
    • Prototyping as part of requirements validation enables development teams to get a greater understanding of how the development items must come together and what technical challenges are ahead.
  3. Data TransformationFocusing on the data that matters
    We can’t stress enough the importance of aligned data! For most projects this is going to be the number one factor in success. It’s also going to be one of the most time-consuming. Making use of tools and technology that create faster development cycles can reduce development by several weeks and improve the effectiveness of user testing. It’s a lot easier for testers to spot any potential pitfalls early on if they see real data in action.
  4. End-to-End Design Vision – The drive to start developing right away
    After prototyping, don’t dive right into development—as temping as it may be from a timeline perspective. Take the necessary time to understand the end-to-end design of the entire control tower project. Run through how you want the control tower to function and how data will flow through the system. And make sure the entire business team is involved. Collaboration is key! Taking sufficient time at this stage will help avoid potential data integration pitfalls.
  5. The Development Cycle – Build, align, repeat
    A staggering 56% of IT projects don’t deliver on the intended benefits (2012 Mckinsey/Oxford). An effective way to manage this is to use an iterative development approach in which the development work list is broken down into two-week sprints of effort, with continuous communication to business teams through playbacks. This approach also validates that the solution is still on track to meet those requirements you determined in step two (you did do that already didn’t you?). Be sure the playbacks have appropriate context and what is showed can be related back to the business process.
  6. Managing Adoption – Invest upfront and don’t walk away
    The going may be tough at times, but it’s important to stick with it. Ensuring successful early adoption will go a long way in making sure your control tower project is successful. So how do you achieve that adoption? Invest early in super users and key influences and use them as advocates. Design with the lowest-level end user in mind so the system is easy to use and easier to understand. Train all users, both at go-live and beyond, and make sure training materials are accessible. It’s also vital you’ve pre-defined the metrics for adoption, and communicated them to the entire team. That includes managing expectations for when the value will be realized and results will be shown. Stabilization is always further away than you think, so be there to support the business teams for the long haul.

By following these six critical steps you’re well on your way to implementing a control tower solution that comes in on-time and with strong end-used support. Your supply chain will be able to harness the power of your data, allowing you to make faster, smarter and better decisions.

You can view the whitepaper in its entirety on the Supply Chain Expert Community.

Looking for even more great information about supply chain management. Check out these other great blogs in our Celestica series:


Posted in Control tower, Control Tower Concepts, General News, Supply chain management

Best of the Best Supply Chain Blog Posts of 2014

Published December 22nd, 2014 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

best of the best supply chain blog-posts

As you take time over the holidays to sit back and reflect, here are the top ten excerpts from the best of the best posts on the Kinaxis supply chain blog. They touch on hot topics and industry trends discussed over the past year, so grab a coffee (or a spiked eggnog) and enjoy! We look forward to continuing the conversation in the New Year.

#1 “And much as we have had to rethink the first applications that were simply a digitization of a paper-based paradigm, we need to rethink how we structure our organizations and get work done to get maximum utility out of the digital world.”
FROM SMAC in the Middle of Supply Chain Change

#2 “Visibility is losing its clarity.”
FROM Visibility is Losing Its Clarity

#3 “The ‘ah-ha’ moments are the catalyst to innovation.”
FROM “Storage Wars” Rescues Supply Chain Ignominy

#4 “Many companies have several instances of ERP, each deployed differently. Despite many moving to a single instance of ERP there are still many ‘shadow IT’ required to do what the core ERP solution cannot. And then there is the planning layer, which is even less harmonized or standardized. Most business people consider this an IT problem. Guess what? It isn’t going away until the business makes solving the data issue their issue.”
FROM Gartner Supply Chain Leaders Conference – What Will Be Hot?

#5 “Tell me if you’ve heard this one before. Your company has implemented an S&OP process. At first it showed some promise, but now it has turned into a blamefest, attended – if at all – by lower level representatives that aren’t empowered to make decisions.”
FROM Poorly Executed or Non-Existent S&OP Is Costing Your Supply Chain Money

#6 “…a supply chain planning system of record should be focused on how it can drive tangible business outcomes not just on how to run the supply chain planning function.”
FROM Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Supply Chain Planning System of Record

#7 “…Yet my contemporaries are the ones making large decisions about organizational structures, processes, and solutions that are rooted in mental models developed and perfected in the 1970s and 1980s. And far too many of the analysts and management consultants continue to position these mental models as best practice. They are not; they are yesterday’s practice.”
FROM Do Supply Chain Planning Systems Generate Any Value?

#8 “Collaboration is not about ’being social’, it’s about making information available, connecting people and improving business processes.”
FROM Purposeful Collaboration: What It Could Mean for Your S&OP Process

#9 “… even the smartest people can juggle no more than nine variables when making decisions. Since there are a lot more than nine variables that need to be considered when making a cross-functional decision in supply chain, the solution was to eliminate the people and let a machine make an ‘optimal’ decision. It is time that we corrected this imbalance.”
FROM The Eternal Dilemma of Decision Making: Human Judgment or Machine Optimization

#10  “Supply chain visibility alone won’t yield effective supply chain orchestration; it is a prerequisite capability, among others.”
FROM Overcoming the Challenges to Achieving End-to-End Supply Chain Visibility


Posted in Control tower, General News, Inventory management, Miscellanea, Supply chain comedy, Supply chain management

Supply Chain Professionals Speak on Delivering Better Business Outcomes with Kinaxis

Published November 13th, 2014 by Melissa Clow 1 Comment

I wanted to share this video compilation of several supply chain professionals that we have interviewed over the years. In the following clip these supply chain practitioners share their opinions on:

  • What is the primary change we are seeing in today’s supply chain?
  • What are key supply chain challenges organizations are faced with today?
  • How does Kinaxis compliment and extend ERP investments?
  • How is Kinaxis helping improve supply chain processes and deliver better business outcomes?
  • How is Kinaxis unique in helping solve complex supply chain challenges?

Hear customers from Qualcomm, TriQuint, Flextronics and Jabil speak on how RapidResponse has transformed their supply chain.

Posted in Best practices, Control tower, Demand management, General News, Inventory management, Miscellanea, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management

What Angry Birds taught me about supply chain improvement

Published June 23rd, 2014 by Jonathan Lofton 4 Comments

A while back I was watching my youngest son play Angry Birds.  It was interesting to watch because he would start a level and not really spend too much time looking at how things were set up.  He might look at what kind of birds he had to work with, but for the most part he’d just start playing.  Once or twice he got lucky and freed all the birds on the first try.  Mostly he’d play several times and finally figure out how to beat the level.  When he beat it, he went on to the next level.  He didn’t try to get the highest score; he was more interested in completing all the levels in each of the different themes.

I would go back and play the levels he completed.  My goal was to get the highest score and to get all three stars completed for the level.  So I would study the layout, see what kind of birds I had to use and devise my strategy.  Of course it almost always took me a few tries to pass the level (and sometimes lots of tries)!

What I realized was that it’s a lot harder to improve a score than it is to just pass the level, especially if you do a lot of collateral damage the first time you win – that first winning score is high.  It can also be frustrating (sometimes I had to put it down and come back to it later).  The other thing I realized was that I probably could have approached it just like my son … just start playing.  No matter how much I studied the level before starting, I rarely got the highest score on the first try.  Although I didn’t often have to change my strategy, I did have to make some adjustments to what the birds were doing …  and yes, there were a couple of cases where I had to adopt a totally different strategy.  But truth be told, I got the high scores and totally completed the level the same way he got the original win: by seeing how things worked out and making adjustments – trial and error.

So what does this have to do with Control Towers and Supply Chain Optimization?  Before I get to that, there are a couple of other pieces of the puzzle for this particular “what I learned” lesson.  One came from watching a TED video, “Tim Harford: Trial, error and the God complex”.

What Harford set out to show is that the common link among successful complex systems is that they all evolved through trial and error.  The other came from participating in a “Human Centered Design” course that emphasized being willing to experiment; being okay with not having the “right” answer, trusting that you’ll find one.  And what was the method of finding that “right” answer?  You guessed it, brainstorming/collaborating and prototyping … iteratively!

The dots that were connected and what I learned from this as I thought about Control Towers and Supply Chain Optimization was:

  • You need maximum visibility when you’re planning your next move – you can have what you think is a great strategy, but if you can’t see how all the pieces fit, you’re going to churn for a while.
  • You may not have to totally change your strategy, but you do have to be flexible enough to make adjustments to how you configure and execute your supply chain.
  • It’s hard to improve your supply chain performance if you are starting off with a decent score but the faster and more agile you can be at adapting your supply chain, the better chance you have of maintaining and improving its performance, even when there are disruptions.
  • Supply chains are continuing to get more complex with more players that need to collaborate, and if the success of complex systems inevitably comes down to trial and error, then you need a way to speed up the trial and error process to become a lot more successful a lot sooner (“Knowing Sooner, Acting Faster”).

No matter how well you’ve blueprinted your processes (“studied the level”), you’re probably not going to totally hit the mark (“get the highest score with all three stars”) on the first try.  So it’s important to stay flexible and ready to adjust, remembering that when you’re trying to be optimal (get the ‘high’ score), it will probably be less frustrating if you follow the example of a child:  Just try a bunch of stuff and see what happens, knowing that’s how most successful complex systems come about anyway.

Undoubtedly I’m biased, but this all confirmed for me that RapidResponse is ideal in terms of giving you the ability to see your supply chain end-to-end, collaborate with the various players and perform a slew of what-if scenarios to determine in real-time what the impact of adjustments would be.

Oh, the other thing I learned … Angry Birds, like supply chain improvement can be addictive!


Posted in Control tower, Demand management, Supply chain management

Bold Predictions for the 2014 Top 25 Supply Chains Part 1

Published May 13th, 2014 by CJ Wehlage 0 Comments

Last May, 2013, I wrote “Bold Predictions for the 2013 Top 25 Supply Chains”. I’m proud to say that three of my five bold predictions were “directionally correct”.

fortune teller gartner supply chain top 25I’d like to share with you my predictions for this year’s Top 25, but first, here’s a brief recap from last year’s predictions and the approach I took for this year’s Bold Predictions for the 2014 Top 25 Supply Chains:

1. After a three year run at #1, Apple will fall out of the top spot in 2013.
While Apple did not fall from the top spot in 2013, their total score dropped from 9.69 to 9.51, driven primarily by a 181 point drop in the Gartner Opinion vote.  They also saw increases in all three Financial categories.

2. After placing 18th in 2010, 16th in 2011, and 7th in 2012, Intel will be in the top 3 of the 2013 Top 25.
Intel moved from 7th in 2012 to 5th in 2013.  While not #3, I think that’s a great move for a semiconductor supply chain during a rough 2013 economy.  Intel does well due primarily to it’s Gartner Opinion vote, which ranks Intel (515)  at 3rd behind Unilever (522) and Cisco (517).  Conversely, Intel is ranked #17 by Peer Opinion vote (756).

3. After placing 5th in 2010, 2nd in 2011, and 4th in 2012, Dell will fall out of the top 10.
I got this one right.  Dell continues to rank high in the Peer and Gartner votes.  However, 2013 Three Year Weighted Revenue Growth at -0.6% dropped them out of the Top 10.

4. Don’t be surprised if Coca Cola (#13 in 2010, #11 in 2011, and #6 in 2012) places #2 in 2013.

This was a tough one.  Coca Cola came in at 9th.  While they had improvements in all three financial categories, they dropped due to Gartner Opinion vote.  Which brings up an interesting comparison, the Peer vs Gartner Opinion.  When looking at the 2013 top 10 ranks in each category, Walmart Samsung and Coca Cola are in the Peer Top 10, while not even in the Gartner Top 10.  Then, Colgate, Pepsi and Intel are in the Gartner Top 10, but not in the Peer Top 10.

5. From #10 in 2010, to #5 in 2011, to #2 in 2012, Amazon will come in at the #1 spot in the 2013

Okay, this didn’t happen, but I’m still giving myself a thumbs up.  Amazon moved from at total composited score of 5.4 to 5.86.  Amazon has been doing a lot of build outs for both Web Services, Hosting and Fulfillment centers.  ROA at 1.9% in 2013 kept them from #1.  However, I think 2014 is the year the investments bring positive news.

My approach for this year’s Bold Predictions for the 2014 Top 25 Supply Chains
As the page turns on 2013, and the annual Gartner Supply Chain Summit approaches, we flock to the warm weather of Scottsdale, AZ.  I’ve looked into my crystal ball to make my 2014 Predictions.  Okay, not so much a crystal ball, but I’ve made some adjustments to improve my Bold Predictions.  I am going to put more stock in some common profiles: Supply Chain leaders who deliver conference keynotes and revenue growth.

I did a search on supply chain conferences from summer 2013 to April 2014.  Keynotes and main speakers are telling their supply chain story.  At the Gartner Australia conference, both Unilever and Haier spoke.  At the SCM World conference in Miami, Nestle, Lenovo,  BASF, Clorox, Under Armour and Caterpillar gave thought provoking presentations on their supply chain.  At the upcoming 2014 Gartner Supply Chain Summit, I see Schneider Electric, 3M and Colgate Palmolive are speaking.  Getting the success story out improves the Peer & Analyst Voting, 50 % of the total vote.  Having ran the High Tech practice at AMR Research, I even recall some supply chain leaders presenting, either in person in Boston, or through analyst calls, their supply chain strategies and successes.  Some companies provide insights to the Gartner reports, from a case study, participation in a quantitative research study, or sometimes a via quotes in key articles.  Most of these companies are going to rise in the Top 50 2014 ranks.

Then there’s the 50% Financial, which is broken into three parts: Inventory Turns, Return on Assets, and Revenue Growth.  Before we go running to review the Annual Reports for a bunch of companies, there’s one profile I like to consider, Revenue growth is the most leading indicator of financial performance.  Apple, Ford, Amazon, Lenovo had great revenue growth in 2013.  The automotive sector companies also saw good revenue growth, which could put BMW, Volkswagen, Hyundai Motor, or Tata Motors into the 2014 Top 50.

Check out tomorrow’s post for what I predict as:

  • Biggest Move Up the Top 25 Ranks
  • Biggest Surprises
  • Top 5 2014 Prediction


Posted in Control tower, General News, Supply chain collaboration

Part 3: My thoughts on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Supply Chain Planning System of Record

Published April 22nd, 2014 by Trevor Miles @milesahead 0 Comments

I was recently asked three questions on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Supply Chain Planning System of Record. As I said earlier, I want to share these videos with our readers…

The three questions I was asked were:

  1. What do you think of the Gartner Magic Quadrant for supply chain planning system of record?
  2. In your opinion, how does RapidResponse differentiate itself as a supply chain planning system of record?
  3. From your experience, what is the level of understanding of planning systems of record in the market?

Here’s my response to question #3. If you haven’t checked out my response to question #1 and question #2, you may want to view them first. Enjoy!

The report positions vendors based on completeness of vision in the supply chain planning system of record market and on their ability to execute to that vision. If you’re interested in reading the full report, the Gartner document is available upon request at

Posted in Control tower, Demand management, Milesahead, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration

How do you collaborate? A look at supplier collaboration

Published November 21st, 2013 by Nazli Erdogus 9 Comments

I love to get my hands on new devices and applications that can be used in the workplace. With so much access to technology today that allows workers to be in constant contact with colleagues, you would think that collaboration would be easier than ever. But, recently, I read an article arguing that there is increasing demand for more face-to-face communication in organizations. Of course, face time with colleagues is not always possible for businesses for multiple reasons, including time constraints and the high cost of travel.

According to a survey of over 1,000 U.S. employees, conducted by Kelton Global, people were asked how they prefer to collaborate and surprisingly 72% of respondents answered in person, 23% answered online and 5% answered via phone or video conference. In addition, nearly two in five employed Americans feel there is not enough collaboration in their workplace. There definitely seems to be a gap here. So while reading these articles, I said to myself – wait a minute, I know that we can help facilitate better collaboration in the workplace, as least for supply chain professionals!

This research takes me to our annual user conference, Kinexions, which was held a few weeks ago in Scottsdale, Arizona where our customers, partners and prospects got together to hear about recent developments in RapidResponse and our customers shared their stories of successful RapidResponse deployments. We also had something unique at this conference: we were able to show ‘supplier collaboration’ in RapidResponse. This feature enables an efficient and effective process between buyers and suppliers. Using RapidResponse, enterprises have direct supplier interaction with automated B2B data exchanges for a number of different situations.

At our conference, we were eager to present the power of supplier collaboration by adding another element to it.  We showed an integrated demonstration between RapidResponse and the GT Nexus portal. We received positive interest and valuable feedback from industry analysts, customers and prospects telling us how powerful and intuitive this approach is.

The demonstration pointed out a combined solution using the RapidResponse client and GT Nexus portal where suppliers and buyers sense, evaluate, decide and act upon a supply disruption. This integrated solution displays unique capabilities including multi-enterprise visibility, immediate simulations to enact on changes, and coordinated multi-party responses.

The ability to connect with the GT Nexus portal enables the supplier to sense the real-time data across a multi-enterprise level, feed this update to RapidResponse, and let RapidResponse do its magic in re-planning and scenario analysis. The scenario comparison uses a number of business metrics and enables the decision maker to analyze the comparison on financial impacts. Then, it’s time for GT Nexus to be fed back with the analyzed data for action.

This initiative serves a broad interaction between suppliers, buyers and even a possible additional tier of suppliers involved in the supply chain. We know that  letting a supplier have access to RapidResponse to commit to requested dates and quantities is beneficial to improve the flexibility of your supply chain and the profitability of your enterprise. We’re now adding some cream on top of it.

So, what’s next? The big thing is that we are not only collaborating with the supplier, but also letting suppliers to sense changes and the opportunity to make respective changes. With this in mind, we can also say what’s next could be preventing disruptions in your supply chain before they happen. Imagine a world where you can sense the disruption coming by identifying limits through your confidence intervals, looking at important metrics that perform a negative trend, and be able to respond to that as a preventive action. That definitely sounds like the next chapter.

It seems safe to say this integration would definitely bring more than enough collaboration in supply chain platforms to answer the need for more collaboration across different teams, thus enabling companies to do a better job of providing applications that encourage collaboration.

Collaboration is important and we definitely take it seriously.

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Posted in Control tower, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management

A response to ‘Is Your Supply Chain Glass Half Full?’

Published November 13th, 2013 by Janice Kakazu 0 Comments

I just recently saw Bill DuBois’ blog post ‘Is Your Supply Chain Glass Half Full?’  It tickled my fancy and a few additional one-liners came to mind:

  • Project manager – I know you want to add cranberry juice to your martini glass, but I’ll need to write a change request for that.
  • Potential customer – I’ll order that drink if I can talk to 3 other customers who’ll tell me how good it is.
  • Supply chain consultant– Tell me about your requirements for filling that glass, and I’ll transform your glass-filling process!
  • Research analysts/Thought leaders – You’re at stage 4 of the maturity curve when you can segment all the glasses by fullness (or emptiness), sense how full each glass is with your eyes closed, and collaborate with the bartender to get a refill in real-time.

Hope you enjoyed that!

Do you have any other supply chain, “is the glass half full” one liners?

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Posted in Control tower, Demand management, General News, Inventory management, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration