Posts categorized as 'Supply chain management'

Seven Supply Chain Lessons from a Former Walmart CEO

AlexaCheater

Supply Chain Lessons

Inheriting an organization facing one of the toughest retail environments in history, Mike Duke helped Walmart, the world’s largest retailer and biggest private employer, navigate an intense period of economic, social, and technological change while delivering strong financial results. As CEO from 2009 to 2014, he worked to restructure the company and made sure it not only grew, but grew with integrity.

Named one of Forbes top 10 most powerful people in 2013, Duke built his expertise by learning from and interacting with everyone—from world leaders to first time Walmart customers. Coming from a logistics and distribution background, he helped the company enter Africa and grow in China, Latin America, and other markets.

As one of the keynote speakers during Gartner’s Supply Chain Executive Conference, he shared seven important lessons he’s learned over the years. While not directly about supply chain, they can all easily be applied to managing the complexities of this rapidly changing industry.

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Is your control tower unresponsive?

Dr. MadhavDurbha

Supply Chain Control TowerAs I finished dinner, I was ready for some entertainment. What better entertainment is there than the latest scoop on the US Presidential election! This thing is more exciting than “House of Cards” season 4. Well, I have to say this. That season 4 was flat. Ok… I digress. I switched on the TV in anticipation. “…. when we return from the break” said the cheerful TV anchor. Then started the commercial break.

As I was getting ready to switch channels, this ad started playing. A group of armed masked men storm into a bank. The customers downed to the floor in fear. They look at the man in the uniform and ask him to do something. The man in the uniform nonchalantly reports back saying “I am not a security guard… I am a security ‘monitor’. I only notify people when there is a robbery”. Then he goes on to announce “There is a robbery” as the confused robbers and customers look at each other. Then comes the text “WHY MONITOR A PROBLEM IF YOU CAN’T FIX IT?”

So true! Why monitor when you can’t fix? That made me think of my credit monitoring service. Yes, I do get quite a few alerts. But most of them don’t tell me what to do about them. A bit like some of the supply chain control towers in the market. They alert you about a problem. But they do nothing to fix it… sort of like the “security monitor” in that ad. Yes. “Monitoring” is necessary for a control tower, but not sufficient. A best in-class supply chain control tower enables a “Plan, Monitor, Respond” paradigm. This type of control tower “monitors” the internal and external environment for threats or surprises that could derail the supply chain “plan”. The threat could be a developing weather pattern delaying shipments, a promotion performing exceedingly well resulting in out of stocks, a production line going down, or a potential miss from the budget plan three months out.

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Supply Chain at the Speed of Google

AlexaCheater

Supply Chain SpeedIt’s an old approach seeing a revival in the new digital age—putting the customers’ needs first. All across business, no matter the industry, size, or geographic location, the push is on to return to a more customer-centric business model. Thanks, in part, to the rise of the Internet of Things, customers are more informed than ever before, and they expect to be able to retrieve details about a person, business, or product in seconds. And that need for speed extends beyond just gathering facts on the information highway. They expect to be able to make purchases and receive service in that same lightening quick timeframe.

Companies like Walmart, Nestle, and Carhartt are strengthening their roots in that regard, building on their founding principles of trust, exemplary service, and working hard every day to satisfy the needs of their customers. Customers that are part of their heritage, part of their story, and have been woven into the very fabric of their brands. They understand the need to deliver a complete customer experience, not just a product, and they recognize doing so is more critical to their success than ever before.

All three presented great keynotes at this year’s Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference, and all three said the same thing. Your supply chain has to be focused on the end customer, and that means developing a comprehensive end-to-end strategy with complete visibility. But the drive to put the customer first isn’t just limited to those who sell directly to the final consumer. Organizations who work in a more business-to-business environment have also recognized the need to listen to their customers and deliver what they want, when and where the want it, and how they want it.

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Information Overload: Is Too Much Data Crippling Your Supply Chain?

AlexaCheater

Supply Chain - Big DataHow much is too much? That’s the question many supply chain practitioners are asking themselves in this world of big data, where a flood of new information is rapidly becoming readily available. It’s now possible to have more details than ever about your suppliers, customers, and even your own operations.

But there’s this concept of data paralysis—where you have so much data you don’t know what to do with it all—and it could actually be crippling your supply chain. If you don’t have the right tools in place, you could fall victim to this phenomenon.

When trying to determine if you’re suffering from information overload, here are a few things to consider:

  1. Are you focused on quantity or quality?

It’s not about how much data you have, but the quality of that data. Instead of being left with “just a big pile of data” as Richard Cushing puts it in his blog on the Supply Chain Expert Community, make sure what you’re collecting actually adds value and insight into your key business metrics. More data doesn’t automatically mean managing it more effectively. In some case, it can mean the opposite.

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How do you streamline planning for tomorrow’s supply chain?

JohnWesterveld

Planning

What does your planning organization look like? Is it a series of silos? Individual fiefdoms throwing requirements back and forth over the wall? What are they spending their time doing? Are they drudging through the tedious work of placing orders with suppliers? Releasing orders to the factory? How much time are the spending truly adding value to the supply chain and how much time are they spending doing simple, mechanical, yet important activities?

Accenture has just released a white paper titled “Supply chain for a new age” which you can get here. In this paper, the author describes various components of the next generation supply chain and introduces the role of “Network Planners”.

A network planner would have ultimate responsibility for supply chain performance and would oversee all aspects of the supply chain from demand and distribution to detailed component supply for a group of products (a family or region or both).

As you can imagine, traditional supply chain tools and processes would quickly overwhelm any normal human, if they were to try to manage all aspects of the supply chain even for a relatively small set of items. If the network planner is to be realized, as Accenture points out, we need to have a way of automating the basic tasks and allowing the planner to focus on making key decisions and managing the significant exceptions.

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Why this is a great time to be a supply chain professional

Dr. MadhavDurbha

Why this is a great time to be a supply chain professional

“Long time bud! Hope all is well” … It was great to hear Tim’s voice after all these years. Tim started his career in supply chain management along with me. After about a decade, he took a different path and branched off from SCM. Thanks to Facebook and Linkedin, we stayed in touch but haven’t talked to each other in a while. But now, out of the blue, he calls me as I was driving home. After exchanging pleasantries, Tim said he is considering pivoting back into supply chain and wanted my opinion on if the timing is right. I told him the timing cannot be any better and gave him my reasons as follows:

1. New supply chain challenges creating new opportunities: Fundamental shifts in technology are remaking supply chains as we know them, bringing together the digital and physical worlds. Here are some examples:

a) 3-D printing is shifting manufacturing to the point of consumption
b) Drone technologies and driverless cars/trucks are expected to revolutionize logistics as we know them. Transportation speeds like never imagined before (think Hyperloop) will be feasible in our lifetime and will shrink lead times significantly
c) Internet of Things (IoT) is enabling proactive asset monitoring and risk mitigation along with precise inventory location tracking
d) Voice and Image recognition, Augmented Reality are reshaping warehouses and Stores as we know them

While this is happening, the business environment is getting more complex and volatile due to rising omnichannel shopping, increasing SKU counts to meet the needs of empowered consumers, dynamic pricing, and personalized promotions, and not to mention geopolitical uncertainties. This is creating an environment wherein the profile of supply chain professionals is rising as boards and CEOs realize that supply chain is a core strategic asset to meet these challenges and supply chain risk management is a must. Chief Supply Chain Officer is now an executive position in more and more organizations.

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Reduce speed – limited visibility!

JohnWesterveld

Supply Chain Visibility

Here in Canada, major highways are getting new electronic signs that provide warnings to motorists about upcoming road hazards. One foggy morning, I drove by a sign that declared “REDUCE SPEED – LIMITED VISIBILITY”. Sure enough, the fog was so thick in some places that I needed to drive much slower – I couldn’t see anything beyond my own hood. When you think about it, many supply chain companies operate with the same visibility. They can see things happening within their company, but they have no visibility to what’s happening outside the four walls. Unfortunately for them, the pressures of business means that they have to operate at “normal” speeds otherwise they will lose business.

A few months ago, Kinaxis published an infographic titled Supply Chain Visibility: Seeing is Achieving. It focused on why supply chain practitioners need to have better visibility to do their jobs. I won’t go into details on the infographic except to say that it’s worth reviewing. I did want to add some of my own thoughts about why visibility is so important and why today’s traditional ERP systems are doing such a bad job at providing that visibility.

First let’s talk about what supply chain visibility means. If you can imagine the typical supply chain, you would expect it to be comprised of customers, suppliers, and potentially one or more levels of integrated manufacturing facilities. Imagine an environment where your customer could request a demand change and within seconds, you could see the impact of that change on your entire supply chain…including any plant that contributes to the manufacturing of that item or any supplier that provides components. You could assess impacts to inventory, margin, cost of sales, new purchases, capacity…all within seconds, all within a single system. How would that knowledge affect your ability to confidently accept that new order?

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De-segregating the supply chain: Lessons learned in the air

TomGregorchik

De-segregating the supply chain: Lessons learned in the airI remember while traveling last fall getting that dreaded alert we all hate see on our iPhones. “Flight Delayed” is how the first few words of the text message read. While travelers running late and those hoping to get free vouchers on overbook flights cheered, I went into a mode of figuring out quickly what the best course of action was for me to ensure I got where I needed to be.

I was traveling from Northwest Arkansas airport (XNA) back home to Washington Reagan (DCA) and this alert put me into panic mode because I had to be at my home office for an important customer call the following day and knew there were limited flights available. My original plan had been to leave XNA in the afternoon, connect in Chicago, and arrive back at DCA in the late evening. Now, I had to figure out how to still make that possible.

On my phone, I was able to open up the airline app to determine where all inbound airplanes were and whether they were on time. By tapping on flight statuses between my source and destination locations, I looked for other flight paths with different connecting cities to see if I had any alternatives. I was even able to view seat capacity to see if it was even feasible for me to get on those flights.

I was able to look at any available hotels in the connecting cities in case I got stuck somewhere overnight and needed to take my customer call in the morning in that location before flying home. And best of all, I was able to quickly gauge pricing of all of those alternatives as I went through them. After about eight minutes of evaluating multiple scenarios, I was able to choose the best plan. Since that experience, I find myself always looking at my flights and inbound aircraft so I can know sooner if there is a potential issue with my plans. Luckily, I’ve gone a long time without any major delays (although I’m pretty sure I just jinxed myself with that statement!).

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