Archive for the ‘Response Management’ Category

Remembering: Turning Visibility into Possibility by Don Gaspari, NCR at Kinexions

Published October 9th, 2014 by Melissa Clow 0 Comments

As we countdown the days until Kinexions (18 days!). I’m remembering our fascinating customer videos. Today I’d like to share the interview on ‘Turning Visibility into Possibility’ from Kinexions.

In this video hear, Don Gaspari, Director, Materials & Inventory, Global Operations and Logistics, NCR, speak about his time at NCR and their vision to leverage it’s market leadership in self service devices and applications to transform the way that business does business with consumers. To support the company’s vision, NCR’s Global Operations team has developed a “Next in Class” supply chain strategy to enable it’s manufacturing and distribution network to efficiently and effectively respond to customer requirement’s.

To view the video in its entirety, watch it below or here.

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


Unleash Pixar-like Creativity in Your Supply Chain Management Organization

Published September 30th, 2014 by Jonathan Lofton 3 Comments

pixer creativity in your supply chain management organizationI recently read “Creativity, Inc.: Overcoming the Unseen Forces That Stand in the Way of True Inspiration” and it got me wondering about creativity within supply chain management organizations. There’s obviously a level of ‘magic’ at Pixar, for them to be able to create 14 No. 1 movies in a row.  Evidence that the principles they’ve developed has merit is easy to see as Disney Animation Studios, led by Pixar’s Ed Catmull (President) and John Lasseter (Chief Creative Officer), has now started producing blockbusters again (e.g.  Frozen, the top-grossing animated film of all time, surpassing the $1.063 billion earned by Toy Story 3) after a long period of so-so animation movies.

I’m always curious if success in one area/industry can be translated to generate similar success in other areas/industries. In this case I do believe there are learnings that can be applied to supply chain management.

So what makes Pixar so creatively successful?  How do they get from a movie that “sucks” to a blockbuster?  And more importantly, can supply chain management leverage these learnings?

“What I’ve learned running Pixar applies to all businesses.  I apply the term ‘creativity’ broadly … it’s problem solving. We are all faced with problems and we have to address them and think of something new and that’s where creativity comes in.”

 – Ed Catmull, FastCompany article, “Pixar President Ed Catmull On How To Run A Creative Business”

At the back of the book Catmull has a lot of bullet points around thoughts for managing a creative culture, which at the end of the day isn’t exclusive to ‘creative’ businesses, including:

  • Give a good idea to a mediocre team, and they will screw it up.  Give a mediocre idea to a great team, and they will either fix it or come up with something better.
  • Failure is a necessary consequence of doing something new.
  • The healthiest organizations are made up of departments whose agendas differ but whose goals are interdependent.  If one agenda wins, we all lose.
  • The process of problem-solving often bonds people together and keeps the culture in the present.
  • A company’s communication structure should not mirror its organizational structure.  Everybody should be able to talk to anybody.
  • Imposing limits can encourage a creative response.
  • Engaging with exceptionally hard problems forces us to think differently.

What stands out foremost in the book as the underlying factor of Pixar’s success is what they call the “Braintrust”.  The Braintrust brings together a bunch of smart, passionate people to review a movie as it goes through its lifecycle.  The folks that make up this group naturally include directors, producers, writers, and animators but it could also include individuals outside the typical ‘creative’ areas.  They use this Braintrust to create a healthy culture where people feel free to share ideas and to constructively criticize.  There are a few principles of the Braintrust that are vitally important:  The individuals must be sharp and passionate; the team has to put a lot of solutions out in a short amount of time; there has to be absolute candor – this is the premier guiding principle.   I think the ‘magic’ comes via another key tenant of the Braintrust – this group has no authority.  The group can’t make the director change the movie.  It’s their job to get to the essence of what’s wrong (Catmull says all Pixar movies “suck” at some point); it’s the director’s job to figure out how to address the feedback.

OK, so how does this relate to supply chain management?

Well, these periodic Braintrust sessions remind me a lot of Consensus Demand Planning and Sales & Operation Planning (S&OP).  Consensus Demand Planning incorporates various organizational views and possible biases on what the forecast looks like.  Others in the organization are required to collaborate and creatively determine how to best balance supply & demand while optimizing company objectives (margin, inventory, revenue, etc.).  At the end of the day, the S&OP team may have several suggestions on what to do … but it’s the Executive S&OP (the “movie’s director”) that has the ultimate responsibility for absorbing the options and deciding how best to drive the company forward.  So what if Consensus Demand Planning and S&OP looked and felt more like a group reviewing a movie’s “dailies” using Pixar Braintrust-like principles to collaboratively solve problems?

I tend to subscribe to “The Wisdom of Crowds” and believe that if we can leverage tools that give end-to-end visibility to the strong, passionate professionals in our supply chain organizations and break down walls to encourage & support real-time collaboration, we can also unleash Pixar-like creativity (and success).  In support of the Braintrust principles, below is what I currently see on the creatively collaborative SCM continuum.

creative braintrust supply chain collaboration
I’d appreciate additional wisdom from the supply chain crowd out there (I’m sure there are other applications, approaches and principles out there that are really creative and bleeding edge). Do you have a formalized ‘Braintrust’ type process and the supporting tools for creative SCM? What are you doing (or seeing) in terms of SCM creativity!?

 

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


Your supply chain is costing you money – Reason #4 Making key decisions by modelling the supply chain in Excel

Published September 24th, 2014 by John Westerveld 5 Comments

Reason #4 Making key decisions by modelling the supply chain in Excel

Making key decisions by modelling the supply chain in Excel

Over the years, working for and with numerous manufacturing companies, I’ve seen many supply chain practices that cost companies money.  Over the next several weeks, I’ll outline these issues and discuss some ideas around how to avoid these practices. You can find the previous posts here:

In my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with several top tier supply chain companies. Companies that are household names. Companies that have been in business for decades. Companies worth billions of dollars.  Companies that are forced to use Excel to manage large swaths of their advanced supply chain planning.  Companies that are starting to realize that while Excel is a powerful tool and can be used for lots of things, it isn’t the tool to use to run your supply chain.

Excel excels (if you’ll pardon the pun) at many things.  But modelling complex supply chain relationships isn’t one of them. There are many issues with using excel that have been written about numerous times in this blog.  A sampling are here, and here.

I can briefly summarize the main points;

Companies use Excel because their traditional planning systems don’t allow them to view and understand aggregate data and more importantly, don’t allow them to effectively react quickly to change.  However, because people need this information and because people (especially those in supply chain) are very smart and come up with ingenious ways to solve problems, they extract data from their ERP systems and build complex models in Excel.

So we understand why companies turn to Excel; they can’t get what they need from ERP.  Now let’s look at why Excel shouldn’t be used to run your supply chain.

Errors – Excel is a free form modelling tool – which means anyone can build a spreadsheet for just about anything.  Many of these spreadsheets are not validated or tested, meaning that the model is only as good as the persons that create the model.  Millions of dollars have been lost to Excel errors.

Everyone has their own version – While you can password protect and lockdown Excel spreadsheets it is difficult to do effectively and many companies simply don’t do it.  This means that often there are multiple copies of the same spreadsheet, all slightly different.  I’ve been in meetings where what appears to be the same spreadsheet tell different tales because someone made a data or formula change.  Eventually everyone has their own version and are all going off in different directions.

Excel is not supply chain software – it doesn’t matter how good your Excel model is, you simply cannot model the complexity of the supply chain in Excel. This means that the best you can do is build an approximation of your supply chain in Excel.  As we know, in supply chain, details do matter and the small detail that is approximated in your model might be the detail that costs you.

So if ERP can’t do it and Excel isn’t the tool, what tool can help you make supply chain decisions?  This tool needs to have the following characteristics;

End to end visibility – To make supply chain decisions, you need to have visibility across your supply chain. You need to be able to see where inventory exists, what capacity is available and what the issues are.

Simulation – The ability to create a scenario, make a change and instantly see the impact of what that change means that you can try things out and know with confidence that it’s going to work.

Full supply chain analytic model – Supply chain planning is very complex and while most vendors have similar basic logic there are many differences between systems, even within implementations of a given system.  To effectively model this logic, you need a tool that can simultaneously model the supply chain logic from all these different systems.

Collaboration - No one person has knowledge of the entire supply chain in their head.  You need to be able to work with others to resolve complex issues.  So an effective supply chain decision tool will need to allow you to quickly identify who you need to work with and then share your scenario with those people.

How do you make your major supply chain decisions? Comment back and let us know!

 

Posted in Demand management, General News, Inventory management, Response Management, 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


Gartner Supply Chain Leaders Conference – What will be Hot?

Published May 20th, 2014 by Trevor Miles @milesahead 0 Comments

My friend and colleague CJ Wehlage has weighed in on what he believes will happen on the Gartner Top 25.

CJ is most certainly being bold and I cannot fault his analysis beyond the usual carping that the Top 25 generates. Instead I want to focus on what seem to me to be major trends that are maybe below the surface but will inform a lot of the discussion. I go to and speak at a lot of conferences so I hear a mixture of over stated claims, future initiatives, and concerns about the state of Supply Chain Management.

Over the past 3-4 years Sales & Operations Planning (S&OP) has seen a resurgence in interest, including the many variants such as Integrated Business Planning (IBP) and SIOP. More recently there has been a lot of discussion, including from Christian Titze, Ray Barger, and others at Gartner on Visibility, usually coupled with the term end-to-end. What I have been hearing more and more recently, let us say late 2013and early 2014, is end-to-end planning. Kinaxis led the charge in this space first calling this a Control Tower in 2012-2013, but that was quite confusing because the 3PLs were already calling their capabilities Logistics Control Towers. Which got even more confusing when Visibility became more popular because how is that different from a Logistics Control Tower?

To me this is all semantics. At the core what people are trying to do, whether during execution or within operational, tactical, or strategic planning is to bring in a wider set of data so that they can investigate more alternatives during the planning phases and get early warning of things not going to plan during the execution phase. Perhaps even more importantly it is about getting different functions within the organization and even across organizations to work together to resolve issues, which is of course the essence of S&OP:

Sales and operations planning (S&OP) is an integrated business management process developed in the 1980s by Oliver Wight through which the executive/leadership team continually achieves focus, alignment and synchronization among all functions of the organization.

Substitute the words “executive/leadership” for any other group and you have what I am hearing over and over as End-to-End Visibility and End-to-End Planning. It is about lowering the walls between functions and organizations so that we can finally replace inventory with information.

But this isn’t what is in the core of the bubbling cauldron. End-to-End Planning and Visibility are driving a core need for a rethink of the entire supply chain data layer. Gartner went through this rethink a few years ago, and, as much as I hate to admit it, they were ahead of me. This is when Gartner moved from a 4 stage demand-driven maturity model to a 5 stage model in March 2013 by inserting a stage in the middle called Integrate. (Introducing the Five-Stage Demand-Driven Maturity Model for Supply Chain Leaders, 26 March 2013, Noha Tohamy, Matthew Davis)

Gartner states that what is required to achieve this stage of Integrated DDVN are

Technologies to support end-to-end supply chain processes; improved data rationalization and integration capability.
Cross-functional decision making across internal supply chain; process-focused COEs to enable the business.

I bring out these description of technology and process needs because they show the dependency of the process on the technology. They also show that my statements above are totally consistent with Gartner’s perspective.

But the elephant in the room is the technology. In fact it is really the data. 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. And it isn’t about consolidating down to a single ERP system. Even though consolidating down to one ERP instance is a step forward, with manufacturing outsourcing accelerating in many industries, heterogeneous data sources are here to stay. The question is what will the future data layer look like?

As Josh Greenbaum states in a blog published just today and titled “Security, Privacy, Big Data, and Informatica: Making Data Safe at the Point of Use

Our data warehouse legacy treats data like water, and models data management on the central utility model that delivers potable water to our communities: Centralize all the sources of water into a single water treatment plant, treat the water according to the most rigorous drinking water standard, and send it out to our homes and businesses. There it would move through a single set of pipes to the sinks, tubs, dishwashers, scrubbers, irrigation systems, and the like, where it would be used once and sent on down the drain.
But data isn’t like water in so many ways.

My bold prediction is that the data layer isn’t going to be ERP centric as it is now. And we are not going to repeat the marketplace craziness of the late 1990s. Unless cloud native ERPs such as Kenandy, which is based on SalesForce, emerge with built-in semantics to absorb meta-data from many sources and pull data in when needed. But I predict we will see a whole new breed of data providers emerge, possibly out of the wreckage that is the EAI space, that will capture this space and serve up data for analytics and business purposes.

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Posted in Milesahead, Response Management, Supply chain collaboration, Supply chain management


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


Speed as the true Innovation in Supply Chain

Published December 10th, 2013 by CJ Wehlage 2 Comments

Wow, I am recalling a great three days in Dallas, Texas this past week at the WTG Supply Chain and Logistics North American conference.  I went for a run in sunny 75 degree weather!

Now, I’m back in San Diego and just finished reading a post from a friend who is an American Airline attendant. She came to Dallas the day after I flew out, to do Airbus training.  Her blog described how she was stuck at the airport due to hundreds of canceled flights – freezing weather that went down to 20 degrees!

It looks like I left just at the right time. As the saying goes, “timing is everything…”.  This saying is much like my presentation at the conference: the topic of speed as the true innovation in supply chain. Not just speed to be fast, but velocity, which is speed moving in a specific direction.

That’s what I believe is the next innovation in supply chain. I grabbed some of my old AMR Research Top 25 data, and looked at the results of supply chain processes and tools.  It seemed like in a recession, supply chains focused on reducing costs. Lean was the top challenge.  In recovery periods, supply chains focused on improving efficiencies. Demand forecast accuracy was the top challenge. Supply chains responded in kind with functional lean efforts or functional demand forecasting projects. I love Lora Cecere’s (Supply Chain Insights) chart on “Progress in Inventory Turns and Operating Margin (2000-2012)”.  One of the best pieces of research data I’ve seen in a long while.

This shows pure “functional” focus from every industry.  Very limited “end-to-end” focus.  Consumer electronics shows a good 18% for consecutive improvement in turns and operating margin for two years.  But, for 3 consecutive years… 0%! For four consecutive years…another 0% !   Supply chains have been focusing on a few nodes of the network, and placing functional processes & tools in place to address the challenge.   If you ask a functional question to a bunch of functional systems, you will always get a functional result.   And functional results will never bring consecutive, sustaining improvements.

At Kinaxis, we have the motto: Know Sooner, Act Faster.  That’s the innovation.  Speed with direction.  Stop asking functional questions and ask end-to-end questions.  And that requires significantly faster analytics across the functional nodes.   Better said, significant velocity.  Yes, it does mean pure speed when a supply chain acts.  But, it also means speed in the right direction.  And speed comes from planning ahead, through simulating scenarios in advance of the challenge.  In fact, after reading the past seven years of Top 25 Supply Chain research, the one thing the best on this list do is: What-If planning. It is not a PhD in the corner working for days,but a core facet of their Planning.

I challenged the attendees on “Know Sooner, Act Faster”.  What do you truly “know” about your supply network.  One of the best ways to answer that question is “how much fire fighting do you do ?”.   If you are fire fighting, you are losing.  You haven’t planned ahead.  You are losing profit & margin to accomplish what an effective simulation could have prepared you for.   Tough words, sure, but great supply chain leadership should reward knowing sooner more, fire fighting less.

Then, we talked about “Acting Faster”.   I asked the audience what the first 10 minutes of every CPFR meeting was.  Answer =  Comparing Data!   That’s the best way to determine if you can act fast.  If you are checking which set of numbers each node is using, you will lose speed.  Every node has to be working off the same version of the plan.

The next great innovation in supply chain is Speed.  And, for the best supply chains, it’s quickly becoming table stakes to have your suppliers, distributors, shippers, etc, on the same plan, acting within minutes of a change, and simulating scenarios for end-to-end network turns and operating margin.  Why?  I say because the consumer is using technology to speed up their decision and purchase.  Every industry has seen their consumer build leverage, and demanding personalized attention.  Supply chain networks need to address this attention by knowing a lot sooner and acting a lot faster.

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


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