Did you know it costs approximately $100 to send an envelope from Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, to Caracas, Venezuela? That’s for three to five day service! New York to London? That will cost you $50 to $100, but it’ll get there overnight. Of course, we’re not only paying to get that envelope from point A to point B, but for a certain level of service as well. What if you don’t require the highest level of service, but still want to avoid the nightmares of dealing with national snail mail companies? (To be fair, Canada has had its share of mail nightmares in the past).
A popular subject in several expat Facebook groups is checking to see who’s planning on flying back to their origin country, and whether those individuals would mind taking along a little extra cargo. I’ve been part of a few of these groups. It usually starts with someone asking for it as a favor, but some, particularly if it’s something bigger than an envelope, offer to pitch in a few bucks to help cover the checked baggage fees. In a way, travelers are informally monetizing what we might call their unused capacity. Upon arrival, they’re usually met by the intended recipient at the airport, or occasionally will agree to meet at more central location, or even relay the package to a local courier to complete the shipment.
So, when I read about Roadie, a startup whose business model is about providing a platform to enable people to monetize their otherwise wasted capacity in the trunk of their cars, I had one of those “about time!” moments. Granted, it’s not the budget-friendly cross-border air shipping service I dream about for my occasional need to send documents overseas, but I hope it might pave the way for it.
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Our partner Celestica recently published the following article, ‘Staying Ahead of Today’s On-Demand Market: Push Versus Pull Strategies.’ The author, Robert Rejano, Processes and Applications Advisor, Celestia, discusses the key differences between push and pull strategies and their impact on the supply chain.
Rejano asks ‘So why does technology even matter when supply chain principles haven’t really changed in decades?” We explore the answer.
You can start the show… whenever you’re ready
Using an interesting analogy centered on the rapidly changing television industry, Rejano suggests push strategies are akin to old analog rabbit ears – you can watch the programs you’re interested in, but only when the network decides to air them. Pull strategies are more like today’s on-demand options. Think digital video recording (DVR) and online streaming. They allow you to choose what you want to watch, and when you want to watch it.
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Our partner Celestica recently published the following article, ‘Is your company being held hostage by poor inventory performance?’ The authors, Anandhi Narayanan, Senior Manager, Advanced Customer Solutions, Charles Thomas, Director, IT Customer Solutions, Stacey Greene, Director of Inventory Optimization and Robert Rejano, Processes and Applications Advisor, all with Celestica, describe the critical steps needed to drive inventory performance improvements.
Poor inventory performance can create a significant obstacle to growth and profitability. But adopting a strategic methodology designed specifically for inventory transformation can help eliminate the obstacles caused by poor supply chain visibility and open up new opportunities. If you’re looking to increase your inventory performance, we’ve outlined Celestica’s key suggestions and how they helped one company see substantial results.
Establish an executive focus and a transformation team to support it
Like any ‘transformational’ initiative, the process of improving inventory performance begins with understanding the compelling reasons for change. Once urgency is established, building the guiding team, establishing a vision and outlining goals are critical to winning over key stakeholders.
Make it Visible – You can’t improve it if you can’t measure it
Successfully increasing your inventory performance requires integration of data from all sources that make up your supply chain network. It’s critical to create a framework for the data that translates it into one clear body of information. Once this happens, data can then be analyzed in detail. To move from ‘basic analytics’, which gives insight into how the supply chain has operated in the past and what is required for the present and future, to ‘advanced analytics’, requires data to be contextualized in a way that makes it useful at the time when operators need to make a decision.
Flexible data models and methods to extract and load data are essential. The key to achieving meaningful results is a centralized data hub where normalization, standardization and storing of data can be performed. This allows the team to quickly develop and modify data models, without relying on multiple outside parties.
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The first day of spring is less than a week away but the Canadian winter is still wreaking havoc on local supply chains.
A friend of mine wrote off his beloved Mazda 3 last month after being rear-ended on a snowy country road outside of Ottawa. This unfortunate event kick-started an urgent need for a replacement vehicle that would fit his growing family and replace the car he’d loved for longer than he’d even known his three children. His wife, demonstrating both her love and a generous dose of pity for her grief-stricken husband, agreed to let him upgrade to a brand new Audi Q3. “Don’t worry my friend, the car of your dreams will be here soon. It’s already on a ship to Halifax!” assured the sales rep.
Now five weeks late, my friend’s wife is still driving him to work and her pity has all but evaporated. What went wrong you ask? It’s hard to believe, but the ‘car of his dreams’ is currently frozen to the ground at CN Rail’s Eastern Passage Autoport.
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I’ve had the opportunity over the past few weeks to investigate how many companies perform their Master Planning practices, and in the process do a pile of thinking about the Master Scheduling role.
My conclusion is that if your company is running smoothly, you need to stop what you are doing right now and hug your Master Scheduler. If your company isn’t successfully executing your plan, you should look at the tools you’ve given your Master Scheduler because with the traditional tools, asking the Master Scheduler to do an effective job is like asking da Vinci to paint the Mona Lisa with a can of spray paint. It isn’t going to be pretty.
If you think about it, the Master Scheduler is the keystone of your business. They have the unenviable job of being the first point of execution in your planning process. The Master Scheduler sets the build schedule for your plant, or perhaps even for your global supply chain. To do this, they need to balance the realities of the supply chain against the randomness of demand (after all, forecasts are…well forecasts. And you know the rule about forecasts – they are always wrong.)
Master Schedulers need to do this while respecting capacity limitations, working the overloads and back-filling the underloads. If that isn’t challenging enough, these constrained resources could be multiple levels away from the point of demand with multiple lead time offsets to consider. Starting to sweat yet? Now think about this; at the same time, the company has firm inventory targets that need to be respected. If your wonderfully leveled master schedule causes you to exceed your inventory targets, it’s back to the drawing board. If you are able to make a schedule that meets all requirements, you no sooner have that schedule ready to go when someone is trying to make it invalid. Scrap, late supplies, demand changes and capacity issues all can force the Master Scheduler to review and possibly adjust their plan.
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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
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Trevor Miles and I have been having a healthy discussion on the Internet of Things and how these technology changes are shaping the way we work.
This is part 4 in our Internet of Things Series: The Supply “Change” dilemma!
A few weeks ago, Charles Wehlage wrote a blog post on his take on The Innovators Dilemma. I thought his analogies with supply chain strategy and execution were spot on. In this piece, Clayton Christensen specifically focused on why organizations fail. And not just any organization, but the great ones! The key learning is that the individuals who as a team have just witnessed a big win as a result of a hard worked strategy are highly likely to miss the budding wave of disruptive forces and be ready for the next change.
My own experiences with different large scale transformations certainly point to this valid the hypothesis. An organization’s capability to sustain its innovative streak is largely dependent on the organizational “software” a.k.a. human resource + DNA. Therefore, the dilemma is how to synchronize the “social dynamics” within an organization and lead continuous change as digital technologies evolve and their adoption is a necessity.
The graphic from Svyantek and DeShon’s thoughts on “System interface and hierarchy of efforts required for change in an organization” illustrates the complexity of change. Organizational software comes before process and technology.
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Being a presales consultant (…by day, Late Late Supply Chain Show host by night) during the last quarter of the year, there’s little, if any, time to reflect back on what was the most successful user conference in Kinaxis history. To be honest, my reflections didn’t start until I read Josh Greenbaum’s post, “Women of the Supply Chain: Responsibility, Collaboration and Bathroom Lines”.
My first thought was “hey, there’ll be no collaboration in the bathroom” but then I realized he was referring to the gender ratio at the conference. Josh used the longer lines to the ladies restroom as a way to highlight the higher ratio of women at Kinexions. I didn’t want to be the one to tell Josh that ladies go to the bathroom in pairs so that line would be double by default. Even so, Josh noted that ratio came in somewhat higher than the tech average at 23% but judging from this picture I would have guessed it was 50/50.
The heart of Josh’s post called out the reasons way women make great supply chain leaders. Josh quoted Trevor Miles as observing “women appear to be better at cooperation and collaboration and to be more open to alternative points of view, all skills that are valued in the supply chain world.” Josh’s article got me thinking about the other groups that were there and made me question if the description “user conference” is the best way to describe Kinexions.
As Kinaxis CEO Doug Colbeth stated in his opening remarks, it all starts with the customers and nothing is possible in our world without our customers. We logically think customer equals user which equals person hitting the keyboard and managing their supply chains with RapidResponse. However, there were people from the customer base that were non-users. For example, executives, who reap the benefits of a more profitable supply chain, or members from the IT community who can be more responsive to user requests but are not necessarily users themselves. The term user just seemed to leave a few people out. Doug also put to bed many misconceptions about Kinexions. For anyone who has googled the term Kinexions, it’s not a spa or an online dating site for supply chain professionals!? Thanks Doug!
The second group was a unique one: prospects. Kinaxis is the only software company I know of that would let potential customers walk the halls freely and mingle with current customers. You couldn’t tell the difference between existing and potential customers as they had free access to all sessions. I don’t think Josh could have pointed out the prospects in the bathroom lines. Certainly there were break-out sessions designed for the more experienced user but we found those prospects looking for as much detail as they could get in these sessions. Do we now call it a “User and Wanna Be User Conference”?
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