Archive for the ‘General News’ Category

Three Distinct Capabilities of Best in Class – From the suppy 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

On the road again! LogiPharma Europe – April 8-9, 2014

Published March 25th, 2014 by Alissa Hurley 0 Comments
_Trevor Miles

Trevor Miles, vice president of thought leadership and industry principle, life sciences

We’re excited to be participating in LogiPharma Europe 2014 in Basel, Switzerland!

This year’s conference is focused on Supply Chain as a Customer Centric Function.

Join us for a roundtable discussion on April 8th on how to leverage the cloud to achieve true innovation in supply chain management. And, on April 9th, Trevor Miles is leading a session entitled Continuous S&OP – Breaking the Mold. In this session, he will discuss how business and technology has changed tremendously in the thirty years since S&OP was first defined, enabling much more proficient and integrated S&OP processes. Trevor will describe how companies are breaking the traditional S&OP mold from both a process and technology perspective.

During the conference follow hashtag #LogiPharma  and stop by the Kinaxis booth #21 to meet with the team and learn more about how Kinaxis has helped life science companies adopt process improvements and technology targeted at removing business “silos,” improving collaboration, and achieving significant operations performance breakthroughs. Find out more about RapidResponse for life sciences at:

More about the conference:
LogiPharma is the ONLY VP-level, end-to-end supply chain event for life science professionals, focusing on strategic and tactical improvements for Europe & the rest of the world. It caters to professionals from across the spectrum of innovative pharma, generics, animal health as well as bio tech companies, tackling the most relevant, pressing challenges and opportunities present in the industry

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Posted in General News, Milesahead, Pharma and life sciences supply chain management, Sales and operations planning (S&OP), Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management

Making Connections at Kinexions – Our customers say it all – Part 2

Published November 19th, 2013 by Trevor Miles @milesahead 0 Comments

Reflecting on our user conference at the end of October and the comments from several analysts, which I covered in a previous blog, I failed to mention the excellent 3-part coverage by Bob Ferrari of Supply Chain Matters.



Bob starts his coverage by noting something about which we are very proud, with my emphasis:

Industry analysts, market influences and invited prospective customers are provided unrestricted access to all of the conference sessions and allowed to mingle with all attendees, something that unfortunately, all software or services vendors do not practice.  Our one restriction as an independent industry analyst and supply chain social media mechanism is to respect the stated confidentiality needs of specific customers or Kinaxis, which is appropriate.

In commenting on the opening remarks by our CEO, Doug Colbeth, Bob comments that:

…at Kinaxis board meetings, the discussions are always focused on ways to add value for customers vs. existing competitor’s [SIC] in the market: 
Why would we want to emulate the competition?
By our view, those comments indeed provide the true descriptor of the unique fabric that makes up Kinaxis and its approach with customers.

Bob is correct. We are forging a new path for supply chain planning that is not stuck in concepts first formulated in the 1980s and realized in solutions dating from the 1990s. We are not your father’s supply chain solutions. We are young, we are hip, and we are different. And, in case you missed it, we are proud of it.

Nothing captures what this means to our customers more than Bob’s observation, again with my emphasis, that:

…one of the consistent and somewhat unique themes that we have consistently and objectively observed at past Kinexions, namely customer’s open articulation of their enthusiasm concerning the value that Kinaxis RapidResponse software has provided in their business and decision-making processes, coupled with the ongoing existence of a positive partnership with a software vendor, one that consistently demonstrates responsiveness to their needs.  Trust me in the statement that while many software and services vendors consistently attempt to achieve this state in a customer focused event, it is something that cannot be consistently scripted or orchestrated.  It has to be organic and living.

Commenting on the many customer presentations at the event, Bob captures the key reasons customers turn to Kinaxis very well:

Constantly changing business and supply chain environments requiring more responsive and more predictive planning.
A realization that the majority of today’s supply chain information exists outside of an organization’s backbone or legacy systems.
Either frustration with attempting to implement an existing ERP based planning application, or current gaps in required planning capabilities needed.
Seeking a trusted partnership with a technology vendor and insuring that the vendor is responsive to ongoing needs.
The critical need to insure user acceptance and adoption of any tool selected, and that the system actually does what it is supposed to do.

Wow. If we had stated this in a brochure no-one would believe us. They would think it was just more Marketing blah-blah. But these are the reasons Bob heard our customers articulate. I love it. All I can say is thank you to our customers that presented – Applied Materials, Cisco, First Solar, Amgen, Flextronics, and NCR – and to all the other customers who chatted to Bob and the other Influencers during the conference.

In closing, when commenting on Kinaxis’ product direction and opportunities, Bob quotes from Robert Frost’s poem “The Road Not Taken”. The part that I believe captures both the Kinaxis spirit and why RapidResponse is so relevant to our customers and prospects is:

Two roads diverged in a wood and I—

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference.

Yes Bob, we will continue to take the road less traveled. It has made all the difference to our customers, and it is what makes us able to not only respond to traditional supply chain approaches differently, but also to address different supply chain problems, allowing our customers to Know Sooner and Act Faster by not only Planning, but also Monitoring and Responding quickly and profitably. It is the combination of these 3 complementary capabilities that makes us different.

As Doug, our CEO, said: “Why would we want to emulate the competition?” Vive la différence.


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Posted in General News, Milesahead, 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

Know Sooner. Act Faster. Not just a supply chain software conference theme

Published November 6th, 2013 by John Westerveld 0 Comments

We recently held our user conference, Kinexions, in Scottsdale Arizona. Attendees from around the world gathered to learn, laugh, share and connect. The event was kicked off by an address from Kinaxis CEO, Doug Colbeth. This was followed by an inspiring talk by Sir Ken Robinson discussing finding your passion: how you need to find what you love to do and then you’ll never have to work a day in your life. That was followed by several customer presentations describing how they’ve used RapidResponse to know sooner and act faster. And actually, that was the theme of the show…“Know sooner, act faster”.

If you are a Kinaxis customer, you know what this tagline means. For those who aren’t, this is what we are talking about:

Know sooner: Imagine that you have a supply chain disruption. Your supplier’s line has gone down and they’ve decommitted the next few weeks of orders while they make repairs and get caught up.   Imagine you found this out first thing Monday morning.  With your current ERP system, how long would it take you to understand what that delay would do to your production schedule?  What customer orders would be impacted?  What does this do to your weekly, monthly, quarterly revenue targets?  Maybe the supply delay really only impacts safety stock and minimally impacts actual customer orders. Perhaps the supply delay impacts millions of dollars of revenue.

Not knowing means either lost time working on minor problems (while more significant issues are ignored) or potentially not working a problem that could impact your company financially. Now, what if you had a system that would notify you when something like a supplier line down occurred.  Imagine if you could configure the system to only notify you if this change impacted customer revenue? Further, what if this system could lay out for you what the revenue impact was and the items causing these orders to be late. That is how you know sooner.

Act Faster:  Now imagine that the line down situation described above actually does drive millions of dollars of lost revenue? What would you need to do to recover? Do you find another supplier?  Can you substitute the late component with another equivalent component?  Can you offer customers a higher end product in place of the ones that are short? Or is it better to just accept that the late/lost revenue? Each of the possible resolutions have cost, revenue and customer service implications.

If you are using a traditional ERP system, you will need to pick one approach and go with it because you cannot effectively simulate different options, and even if you could, with the limited reporting capability inherent in today’s ERP systems, you can’t easily see the impact of those options on revenue, margin and customer service.  To act faster, you need to be able to identify those people affected by a change, collaborate with them to simulate the possible resolution options and then compare those resolution options  to see the revenue, margin and customer service impact.

When plans and events create risk/opportunity for you, the speed at which you bring together the right people to collaborate will make or break your operations performance.

It’s not difficult to see that knowing sooner and acting faster is a competitive advantage. Other factors being equal, reacting to changes in your supply chain faster than the competitions means that you will win more business, hold less inventory and earn more profits.






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

The Scariest Supply Chain Stories: Happy Halloween!

Published October 31st, 2013 by Melissa Clow 1 Comment

We are hot off the heels of Kinexions, our annual training and user conference where we had the opportunity to ask supply chain professionals to describe their scariest supply chain situation.

In collaboration with SupplyChainBrain, we put together the following video. Here’s what customers from Celestica, First Solar and Kennametal told us…

Happy Halloween 21st Century Supply Chain readers!

Viewer discretion: Watching this video may keep you up at night.

What’s your scariest supply chain story? Tell us what keeps you up at night!


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Posted in General News, Supply chain comedy

Is Your Supply Chain Glass Half Full?

Published October 30th, 2013 by Bill DuBois 1 Comment

 Is Your Supply Chain Glass Half Full? The staff at Kinaxis is just back from another successful annual user conference, Kinexions. There were plenty of great presentations and breakout sessions. Of course, as with any Kinaxis event, there was also a bit of fun to be had with many supply chain jokes being tossed around. A colleague of mine, Mike McGuire and I had a “glass half full” conversation and it didn’t take long to come up with a list of supply chain, “is the glass half full” one liners.

Of course everyone knows the optimist says the “glass is half full” and the pessimist says the, “glass is half empty.” But what do those in supply chain have to say?

Demand Planner – Historically the glass was full. Although there is currently less, our statistical calculations show that we should order 10 more glasses.

Sales – We need 3 more kegs.

Marketing – Isn’t that the nicest glass you’ve ever seen.

Buyer – I ordered another drink but it got delayed in customs.

Engineer – Let me redesign the glass so it’s full again.

Inventory Control – Based on the Reorder Point we need to order another drink when the glass is ¼ full. Or is that ¾ empty?

CFO – Good news, our carrying costs have decreased by 50 percent.

Operations – Who drank half my beer? That’s alright, I have another one in my desk.

IT – Your request to fill your glass is being reviewed. We’re currently short resources but should be able to fill your glass in 2 years after we finish our phase one ERP project.

CEO – Our shareholders should be happy that demand has increased by 50%. Orders are strong at half a glass and with the introduction of our new jug we expect sales to increase by more than 3 kegs.

Let us know if you have any other supply chain, “is the glass half full” one liners!


Posted in General News, Supply chain management

The Young Blood of Kinaxis: Our Next Supply Chain Software Leaders?

Published September 27th, 2013 by Lori Smith 2 Comments

Earlier this week we announced that Kinaxis has been named as one of Canada’s Top Employers for Young People.

We’re obviously thrilled to have received this recognition.  While I would argue that all of our Kinaxis employees are young at heart, here are a few highlights of some of the employees who can actually claim their youth as measured by years of age!  These are just a few of our younger staff who have seen career and personal success with Kinaxis.


Rod, 35
Product Marketing Specialist
12+ year Kinaxis veteran (Yep, 12 years of service despite only be 35 years young!)
Former Co-op student

Career support:  Tuition support for diploma in Business Information Systems and APICS SCM courses
Kinaxis highlight: Having moved throughout the organization over the years holding several different types of roles, Rod is now a senior member of the team responsible for creating product demos to demonstrate to prospects how RapidResponse can solve their supply chain challenges.
Why has he stayed so long? Loves the product and loves solving customer problems!
Extras: Member of Kinaxis soccer and hockey teams. Go Kodiaxs!


Andrey, 31
Manager, Analytics Development Team
4 year Kinaxis veteran

Career support: Training, as well as tuition assistance for Masters in Technology Innovation Management
Kinaxis highlight: Crucial part of Analytics team (Analytics are at the very heart of RapidResponse!)



Simon, 31
Team Lead, Application Technology
7 year Kinaxis veteran
Former Co-op student

Career support:  Training courses
Kinaxis highlight: Likes that Kinaxis is a combination of a large established company and a startup, in that it is a stable company that had been around for many years but still has a dynamic and flexible work environment.
Why has he stayed so long? Interesting work, opportunities for increased responsibility, supportive management and good people overall.


Josh, 28
IT Programmer
1 year Kinaxis veteran
Former Co-op student

Career support:  ITL training
Kinaxis highlight: Likes the practical experience; sees opportunities to grow within his team and apply what he has learned in school to help Kinaxis’ business.
Extras:  Enjoys the treats and meeting the new hires every Friday! (At Kinaxis, the newest person hired is tasked with going around the office with a bin of sweet or salty treats every Friday– an enjoyable initiation process!)


Nazli, 27 
Product Marketing Specialist
2 year Kinaxis veteran

Career support: Tuition assistance for CSCP certification
Kinaxis highlight: As an MBA graduate, Nazli wanted to be closer to the business so she changed from a role in development to a role in product marketing.



Chiedozie, 26
Service Operations Analyst
1+ year Kinaxis veteran
Former co-op student

Career support:  ITL training
Kinaxis highlight: Job fits well into his career plans, and he’s gaining valuable experience that will be of benefit along the way.
Extras:  Likes the relaxed working atmosphere.


On this Friday, we would like all give a shout out to all our employees – the young… and not-so-young alike… – for all the important contributions they are making to Kinaxis and to the supply chain software industry as a whole. 

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Posted in General News, Miscellanea, Supply chain management