Archive for the ‘Demand management’ Category

What the Analysts Are Saying About…A&D Supply Chains

Published July 18th, 2014 by Bill DuBois 0 Comments

What the Supply Chain Analysts Are Saying About A and D

Are you looking for some reading material to pass the time on your next flight? Even if you’re not you should check out Supply Chain Insights, Supply Chain Metrics That Matter. For the past several years, Supply Chain Insights has been delivering this research series.  What caught my eye is that for each report, they do a deep dive on a specific industry and use a mix of financial data, survey research results and interactions with their clients to help get a better understanding of various industries’ supply chains.

I spread my Supply Chain wings at an Aerospace company and since Aerospace and Defense is a key vertical market for Kinaxis, the recent Supply Chain Metrics That Matter: A Focus on Aerospace & Defense report was downloaded on my laptop to read on my next flight. The research benchmarks A&D companies against other industries and looks at the top five A&D companies over the last decade. Although it didn’t give any suggestions on what to do when you find yourself in row 32, you know the one next to the washroom, it did discuss the challenges the industry is facing as well as offering up solid recommendations for areas of improvement.

From a challenges perspective, here are the highlights covered in this report.

The obvious challenge is the complexity in the A&D industry. The report uses the Boeing 747-8 International as an example. It has about 6 million components which are manufactured in 30 countries by 550 unique suppliers. Think about those design, sourcing and delivery challenges. I always thought getting through security these days was complex.

With such a heavy reliance on first, second, third, fourth and fifth tier suppliers and in some cases having only one or two suppliers for specific components, it’s easy to see how delays and budget overages can happen. A supply chain based so heavily on external sources is susceptible to more risk than catching a flight on time out of Newark. As Supply Chain Insights mentions, this is having a significant impact on the company’s bottom line.

Interestingly, to help address the issue of ensuring materials are available when needed; the research indicates that A&D companies have “developed some of the most advanced sourcing techniques and practices.” Companies like Lockheed Martin, are looking at new strategies for materials (raw or otherwise) that are harder to source, especially in the cases where increased Supply Chain volatility have thrown a wrench in their “Just In Time” approach. The challenge is balancing reduced material delays with rising inventory levels and longer Days of Inventory.

To help address these challenges, Supply Chain Insights makes a few recommendations that I think are spot on. Suppliers, in particular of materials that are sole sourced, play such a large and important role in the A&D supply chain, it’s vital that there be a focus on supplier collaboration and communication at every level.  A big part of this is increasing visibility into the supply chains to ensure they can anticipate and plan for potential disruptions. Focusing in these areas will help reduce supply chain risk, and make A&D companies better prepared to deal with inevitable disruptions when they do occur.

Thanks to Metrics That Matter, not only did I get some valuable A&D insights but it took my mind off of sitting in row 32 on a delayed flight out of Newark. The report covers a lot more ground than what I’ve discussed here, so feel free to download a full copy of Supply Chain Metrics That Matter: A Focus on Aerospace & Defense report here. (No registration required.)

Posted in Best practices, Demand management, General News, Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management


4 Parallels between Planning a Wedding and Supply Chain Planning

Published July 9th, 2014 by Melissa Clow 3 Comments

wedding-planning-supply chain planningI got married on June 28th. After 7 years together, we decided to make it official. To be honest, I never had much interest in planning a wedding so I had lots to learn. As exciting as it was, at times the task was daunting: venue, guest list, colors, theme, bridal party, transportation, music, photography and of course the dress.

Throughout the nine months we took to plan, I realized there are a lot of similarities between wedding planning and supply chain management. Here’s my top 4 list on the parallels between the two:

4. Disruptions

To no one’s surprise, I learned that wedding planning does not always go smoothly.

Just like supply chain management, there will always be disruptions –it could be a small disruption like your parents invite people that weren’t on your original invite list or a larger one, like what a Saskatchewan couple experienced last week on their wedding day… a tornado! Despite this, their photographer was able to think quickly and capture some breathtaking photos.

Lesson learned: There will be bumps in the road but you can’t dwell on them; they need to be dealt with rapidly and maybe even a little creatively.

supply chain disruptions wedding

For business, competition continues to grow. Responding rapidly to changes is critical, whether it is ordinary daily order changes to large and unexpected supply chain disruptions such as strikes, blockades and regional tragedies. We can no longer predict the future with acceptable levels of accuracy, and so the success or failure of supply chains is dependent on how quickly and effectively stakeholders can understand and respond to evolving situations. Once you know the impact, you need to act quickly to simulate the various scenario alternatives and find the best solution. The timeliness of resolution is a key factor in mitigating any potential damage to your operations.

Risk management

wedding supply chain risk managementWe contemplated who we would ask to give a speech. For example, do you ask your husband’s friend to make a toast even though you know there’s a very good chance he will say something offensive? We decided to decrease the risk of any bad behavior by our friends and kept speeches to a minimum by only asking the best man and maid of honour to speak.

In supply chain, it is not just about avoiding risky situations, supply chain risk management has a component that many companies fail to consider; the ability to respond:

  • Even the best thought out mitigation strategy may fail when the time comes to implement;
  • events that you couldn’t have imagined (or considered too low a probability to worry about) during your risk assessment may in fact come to pass; and very importantly,
  • small events, which may be considered insignificant on their own, but that taken in sum become a large risk consideration if not managed effectively.

It is important to be proactively alerted to urgent issues before they turn into major problems.

Collaboration

Because there are so many aspects that go into successfully pulling off a wedding, it’s really important to have a good working relationship with all your vendors. One challenge that we ran into with our venue, is that every time we spoke about our wedding plans we were passed along to a different wedding coordinator to help us… and more often than not, it wasn’t the person that would be there to help us the day of. This was a little unnerving because without telling our coordinator firsthand, it felt like we were playing telephone. Getting on the same page is key since these are the people that are going to help you execute your big day.

Just like collaborating with all your vendors, guests, bridal party, those in supply chain now need to coordinate with a number of tiers in the value chain network. Because of that, supply chain visibility and supply chain coordination has been reduced and often made the brand owners dependent on suppliers for their business and operations performance results.  To be truly effective, supplier collaboration needs to go far beyond the tactical exchange of data. Key suppliers must actively review information and directly contribute to the decision-making process so that companies can exchange early warnings and collaboratively resolve supply chain risk issues. Better supplier collaboration improves the flexibility of a supply chain and the profitability of the enterprise. 

Talent

We hear a lot about supply chain talent and how important it is to build up less experienced supply chain professionals to operate an effective and efficient supply chain. The same could be said for those getting married. We certainly needed and appreciated our friends and family that supported us throughout the wedding planning process. Without their support and advice, we wouldn’t have been able to pull it off, or at least not as well.

Just like we received a lot of sage wedding and marriage advice from married friends, colleagues and acquaintances, many organizations are creating formal supply chain talent-management programs to help transfer knowledge to cultivate growth. Often, these programs aim to engage both the mentors and the mentees by providing opportunities for a connection and growth. And now, more and more colleges and universities are offering undergraduate- and graduate-degree programs in supply chain management to better prepare younger supply chain professionals to enter into the field.

 

All that said, I can officially say we did it! And I can’t wait to give advice to future engaged couple thinking about planning a wedding.

Happy Wednesday!

Posted in Demand management, General News, Response Management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), 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


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 http://kinax.is/Gartner.

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


Part 2: My thoughts on Gartner’s Magic Quadrant for Supply Chain Planning System of Record

Published April 17th, 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 last week, 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 #2 (if you haven’t checked out my response to question #1, you may want to view that first).

Hope you enjoy!

In your opinion, how does RapidResponse differentiate itself as a supply chain planning System of Record?


 

You can also check out my responses to question #3 as well:

 
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 http://kinax.is/Gartner.

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


Three Distinct Capabilities of Best in Class – From the supply chain leadership series

Published April 16th, 2014 by CJ Wehlage 2 Comments

supply chain leadership seriesAs I mentioned in my last post of this series, I am starting a blog series on “supply chain leadership”. I hope to pose thought provoking, and forward looking questions to executives in my supply chain network. This series will provide insights into the most pressing challenges, innovative items in supply chain leader’s budgets, and how these executives have handled talent, complexity, end-to-end S&OP, and technology. Next up is Clarence Chen, Partner at AT Kearney.  I have known Clarence from his days at PRTM as Partner of Electronics & Semiconductors.  His background and opinions on the future of supply chain is truly fascinating.

1. As we enter 2014, how would you describe the most pressing supply chain challenges?

Some of the most pressing supply chain challenges in 2014 continues to be that of delivery, quality and cost.  I think the factors that compound those challenges are changing at a faster pace than most industries are able to cope with, thereby making attainment of the core supply chain objectives even more challenging.

There are two vectors for those factors:

1)  At a geo-demographic level there are the shifting patterns of demand and growth along with cost factors rising quickly in some geographies/countries and inputs into production.

2) At a technological level, the pace of innovation continues to accelerate.  Not only is the pace of NPI increasing in technology, but that same clock speed is now moving into broad sectors as trends such as the internet of things/devices become more pervasive beyond traditional high tech penetrating into industrial, healthcare, automotive sectors, etc.

To cope with these factors, companies have to rethink the core supply chain capabilities of plan, source, make, deliver and the skills and resources required to manage supply chains in 2014 and beyond.   Companies will need to manage with greater precision, tightness, and control over their supply chain assets and partners. Those who don’t master that well will risk high E&O and overall inventories, supply-demand mix issues which impact service levels, and slow response times to changing market demand patterns

2. The End-to-End supply chain strategy has been well documented. What capabilities does your company have that is better in class for integrating end to end?

The best-in-class companies have three distinct capabilities that are more developed than others.  First is a thorough mastery of the demand management process – not just focused on forecasting, but on developing a better “quality” of demand.  This emphasizes factors such as being able to understand whether shifts in demand represent a timing issue driven by big deals, or whether the market is fundamentally at new level of demand, and then driving the rationalization of actual demand against a plan. Second is an ability to propagate demand across an extended supply chain, taking into account the key control nodes and depth of the supply chain, and balancing that against supply, inventory, service and supply chain level constraints. Third is the ability to collaborate with key long lead time suppliers to ensure that they are able to meet the forecast and execute against actual requirements. This direct control of the end-to-end supply chain minimizes bullwhip effects, and enables the responsiveness required in today’s volatile environments.

3. How aligned and connected are you to the many supply chain nodes?  What are the reasons you would want to improve this alignment?

Back in 2010, on the heels of a severe component shortage environment as companies emerged from the 2008 market downturn, I conducted a survey with 14 leading computing and storage companies to better understand how some coped better than others with the upswing in demand, and extreme supply shortages.  The findings validated that those companies with greater visibility and control of their extended supply chain fared much better in recovering supply than those companies that did not.  By visibility and control, it means that those that had visibility at component level, and sometimes at tier 3 level visibility, coupled with planning and orchestration across the extended supply could then proactively allocate precious supply to demand priorities and manage tightly the placement of P.O.s at the extend lead times. In particular, those that modeled what their contract manufacturers and key supplier suppliers (e.g. die banks with silicon devices) and were able to balance S-D at each node fared the best.

I love Clarence’s insights, especially on the main challenge: delivery, quality, and cost.  These are the core objectives from the past 20 years, and remain the core challenges.  However, as he notes, demand demographics and speed of NPI cycles are stressing the core in new ways.  Most people want visibility.  But, a lot don’t drill into the question, “What will you do with visibility?”  As Clarence notes, the quality of demand needs to improve.  What segments are relevant?  You need to propagate this relevance throughout your supply network.  What are the insights to this change?  And, then you need to collaborate with the key nodes to execute the change.

You can see those supply chains that can prioritize change, analyze the end-to-end impact, and collaborate in real time are doing so with better margin  and operating costs, capturing more market share, and controlling supply chain risk and disruptions better.

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


Miami Vice, Diapers, SCM World and the Digital Supply Chain

Published April 14th, 2014 by CJ Wehlage 2 Comments

Let me set the scene for you:
It is Sunday, February 23, 2014 at 9:00a.m.  Location: Miami, the Trump National Doral… outside patio. I’m grasping two cups of coffee and wearing all white. I’m sitting with Kevin O’Marah and he has an inquisitive demeanor … do I have your attention?

Now, let’s go back 9 hours. I was north of San Diego celebrating at a local home. The event was the Scholars Circle White Party, to honor the donors of a local public school.  Naturally I wore white shoes, white pants, and a white shirt. I had to leave the event and go straight to the airport to catch my red-eye flight to Miami to attend the SCM World Live conference. I landed at 7am EST – nary a minute of sleep on the plane. I took a cab ride over to the Doral to meet my good friend Kevin O’Marah, Chief Content Office at SCM World (and wondering why I scheduled a 9am and not a 5pm, but that is beside the point).

Kevin and I go way back to our days at AMR Research. I always love catching up with him, sharing stories of supply chain, innovative practices and research concepts.

The first thing Kevin said to me was “you look ready for Miami!” … referring to my all white attire (for all you Millennials, it’s a Sonny Crockett thing…that’s Don Johnson from Miami Vice).

Not only was I ready for Miami and the SCM World Live conference, I was also ready for a very insightful 1+ hour back and forth with Kevin on digital demand and the impacts on supply chain.  I’m sure Kevin was expecting my insights to be on Apple or Bose, where I had worked prior.  However, I was actually captivated by an innovation on digital diapers. Yes, digital diapers.  I had just read a story about diapers that actually tweet you when they are, say, wet or soiled…

There’s a device inside each diaper: a sensor for identifying when the diaper is wet and a blue-tooth to send a tweet.  As a true supply chain practitioner, my main concern was that the cost would be too high for this product. But, when I spent some time thinking about the product and the customer experience, I concluded that the digital diaper cost could not only the same as the regular diaper, it stands a chance to be lower.  As the SCM World report “Demand Management 2020” states, “Value to the customer encompasses the product purchased as well as the complete experience around that purchase (Demand Management 2020, SCM World, Research Report, March 2014).”

Our discussion came back to how a supply chain practitioner can participate in building a “digital” product.  Certainly it takes marketing, engineering, and sales innovation, but also supply chain innovation.

Having worked at Kinaxis for a little over a year, I told Kevin, “one of the main benefits I see our customers achieving is planner productivity”.  Our end-to-end planning with exception based notifications and simulation removes steps from the process and brings significant speed. The result is that planners are more productive.  Or said another way, planners can spend more time on innovation.

The SCM World report states, “It is this translation (across demand and supply), that brings about the ability to evaluate different strategic scenarios (Demand Management 2020, SCM World, Research Report March 2014).”  Our discussion continued along these lines.  In order for supply chains to test innovation, planners need simulation capability to create scenarios.  In essence, test the innovation against operational realities and metrics.  At Kinaxis, our customers do just that. Achieve the benefit of planner productivity and use it to simulate scenarios.  Scenarios improve profit margin, inventory turns, operating costs, value to the customer, new product ramps, revenue growth, capacity, etc.

So, let’s go back to our digital diaper discussion.  How does a customer purchase diapers?  One would likely go to a retail store, buy a box of 100, get home and put 30 in the downstairs bathroom, 30 in the baby’s room, 30 in the travel bag, and the last 10 in the stroller pouch. When the 30 that are downstairs runs out, you steal from the travel bag a few times, and then probably go buy another box of 100.  Never realizing exactly how many you have. You just don’t want to be at Zero   Trust me – I have two young kids…

That’s the customer experience, much more than a spreadsheet of demand numbers for your supply chain planners.  Now, imagine your team using an application to simulate innovative scenarios and gain significant productivity.

Supply chain innovation scenario: Each tweet the diaper sends out can also count the tweets. When you get to 75 tweets, you also get a tweet or email telling you that there are 25 diapers to go, and asking if you would like a new box of 100 shipped direct to your home.  The tweet/email can also suggest other products (such as items in excess) to add to the order, or special price/promotional add-on’s. That data can also go back to the manufacturer, and used for supply chain planning.  As Kevin and I talked, we came to the possibility that the “digital” diaper could actually cost less when looking at the “complete experience around that purchase.”

SCM World And the digital supply chain

The opportunity is in front of us as supply chain practitioners.  Anything can be digital, and digital can change the supply chain significantly.  Kevin and I concluded that current business complexity keeps us so busy firefighting and resolving issues 24/7. As leaders, we need to get to true exception based end-to-end planning, and gain the benefit of planner productivity.  Only then can our supply chain planners take the time to simulate innovative scenarios that bring customer value, revenue growth, and supply chain excellence, even to products like diapers.

 

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Posted in Demand management, Miscellanea, Response Management, Supply chain collaboration


‘Know Sooner, Act Faster’: A Supply-Chain Mantra | Kinexions

Published April 9th, 2014 by Melissa Clow 2 Comments

SupplyChainBrain attended our annual Kinexions user conference, and while there, they completed a number of video interviews with customers, analysts, and Kinaxis executives. And, we’d like to share them!

In this interview, hear C.J. Wehlage, vice president of high-tech solutions with Kinaxis, detail industry’s major supply-chain management challenges in particular, the difficulty of obtaining full visibility of supply and demand, and dealing with the volatility of markets. Know sooner, act faster  is the mantra offered by Wehlage as a key strategy for dealing with growing market volatility. I run into supply chain practitioners who don’t know as much as they think they do, he says.  It’s about responsiveness, and how much you know about your supply chain.

 

Previously, we featured interviews with:

 

‘Know Sooner, Act Faster’: A Supply-Chain Mantra – Interview summary

CJ wehlageIn seeking upstream visibility, many companies don’t look beyond their first-tier suppliers. As a result, crises often devolve into firefighting, rather than being averted through proper oversight of all suppliers, third-party logistics providers and even the retail store.

It’s tough to put a value on the prevention of a crisis that never happens. Still, says Wehlage, that necessary level of responsiveness is the core of supply chain.  It’s the key to how managers can influence the reporting structure within their organizations. Being able to make informed decisions, and acting on them, provides executives with a level of power that isn’t reachable through traditional methods.

Responsiveness isn’t just a tool for managing supply-chain execution; it also bears a strategic element. Decisions can be driven at the C-level, rather than occurring exclusively in the trenches.

A key competency that many companies are missing today is leadership. There has to be somebody asking the end-to-end questions, says Wehlage. What’s my profitability across this?

Yet another key element of modern-day supply-chain management is obtaining the right talent. It used to be sufficient for employees to possess functional expertise. Now, end-to-end skills are critical.

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