Posts categorized as 'Supply chain management'

Inventory Management: Technology Enablers

AndrewDunbar

Woman touching a virtual screenThe modern day inventory manager described in this series is the backbone of your company’s inventory planning process. She has a strong understanding of supply chain fundamentals and is an expert at controlling the key levers impacting the inventory company’s investment in inventory. All that’s left is to add a planning system that enables her to work effectively. If you leave her to build reports and metrics that she needs in excel then she’ll spend all her time crunching numbers instead of planning your company’s largest asset. So, what features should you look for in a good planning system?

  1. All your data’s in one place. Your planning system should combine all your company’s data in one system. It should be up-to-date (daily at a minimum), and include all the input data required to make your inventory planning decisions.
  2. Closed Loop. If you don’t execute with your planning system, there should at least be a closed loop between the systems so you don’t spend all your time transcribing after making a decision.
  3. Built in reporting systems should immediately alert your inventory manager to changes requiring response. Agile response can make all the difference.
  4. Your inventory manager needs a dashboard that can give her a clear picture of the current status of the inventory plan and provide insight that guides her actions each day. It’s also useful to have more in-depth tools that provide a visual representation of a wide array of metrics simultaneously to help identify concerning trends and improvement opportunities across all the levers in her toolbox. While it can be hard to find time for it, exploratory analysis often pays big dividends.
  5. I covered this last week, but I really can’t stress enough how important it is to select metrics that support all of your business goals. It’s important that the impact of you planning decisions are visible across all parts of your organization. These metrics should be using live data, and you should instantly see the results of the changes you make.
  6. Interactive charts and graphs. The metrics on your dashboard should be interactive to enhance their analysis value. You should be able to hover your mouse over charts to read key figures, and you should be able to drill into the details with a single click. Metrics should update immediately when you make changes and you should be able to filter the input data to dig in to areas of concern.
  7. Hierarchies. Data hierarchies allow you to see your data at various levels of aggregation. Imagine being able to see your metrics at a global, regional, country, or site specific level with a click of the button. Hierarchies can be built into dashboard and reports to allow instant filtering to look at key details.
  8. What-if scenarios allow you to immediately calculate the results of changes you make so you can evaluate the results before committing the changes to your master data. You can easily lose a whole day if you have to wait for your ERP system to refresh overnight before you can understand the impact of a settings change.

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Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) in the NOW, is happening NOW!

MattBenson
  • by Matt Benson
  • Published

A woman reviews an S&OP related documentAs I was presenting at the European Supply Chain and Logistics Summit last week, the overriding memory I’ll take away was the number of people that were nodding and pointing at the screen when I talked about how unplanned supply chain events that occur need to be addressed immediately and that they cannot wait to be included as part of a new S&OP cycle.

Traditionally, an S&OP cycle is a process geared towards taking a medium/long-term forecast, balancing with aggregate level resources and generating questions/answers to establish preventative action. Usually it’s seen as a monthly process that follows this cycle:

  1. Collate actual data and perform performance analysis
  2. Start demand planning cycle
  3. Establish supply status
  4. Perform balancing and establish variances
  5. Agree on corrective action and present solutions
  6. Executive decision and commit to the business

However, this process makes several broad assumptions:

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Step Three: Stage Five Supply Chain Planning System of Record (SCP SOR)

CarolMcIntosh

Connecting the dots like in the game Simon is step three to stage five SCP SORStep Three – Connecting the Dots

How many of you are familiar with the game Simon? While Simon is really a memory game, what I really want to emphasize is that it is unpredictable. You start by pressing on one color and with every selection you are presented with a random sequence of colors that you must remember and repeat. It is random; not sequential and your decisions have to be made quickly as the game speeds up at every turn. It is just like your supply chain.

So how do you manage an integrated supply chain when you don’t know the sequence of events from day-to-day and any decision you make can impact your next action and also others in the organization?

I like to call this ‘Connecting the Dots’.

I remember starting in supply chain many years ago in procurement, negotiating pricing and managing suppliers. At the beginning, about a month after I had placed a large purchase order I was approached by accounting. It turns out that the supplier didn’t acknowledge the price and invoiced differently than the purchase order. This is one example of many accounting issues that we all know can occur but it taught me very early that everything I do can potentially impact some other part of the business and often you find out much later, often too late.

Have you ever made a bad decision?

How many of you have made quick decisions on meeting forecasts only to find out that you lost a good part of your margin on expedited freight, overtime and premium material costs?

Connecting the dots is very important for a SCP SOR because everything is related to cause and effect – understanding the impact of your decisions before you execute.

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Inventory Metrics: From Insight to Action

AndrewDunbar

Abstract depiction of metricsOver the last several weeks, this blog series on Inventory Management has explored the objectives and roles of inventory managers and outlined several of the improvement levers available to them. This post will discuss some of the metrics and analysis tools that an inventory manager needs to identify risk and opportunities and to make intelligent decisions to optimize the performance of their inventory.

When determining the metrics required for any business process, the first question you need to ask yourself is, “What are the business goals of the process?” Once you can answer that, you need to understand where the business process fits into the organization. What processes are upstream of your current process? Who relies on the outputs, and what are their priorities? These are all important questions to help you select metrics that facilitate a balanced decision making process and allow you to understand the trade-offs between proposed scenarios.

The metrics you choose should answer the questions your organization is asking, without requiring additional analysis. If you find your organization spending too much time completing repetitive ad-hoc analyses, you may want to re-evaluate your metrics. Each metric requires context. This could be a target level, or simply historical data that allows the reader to understand how the current situation compares to the ideal. Your dashboard metrics should highlight issues requiring immediate action and should be supported by details that can tell the whole story. If your organization wants advice on data visualization techniques for dashboard design, communication, or analysis purposes, I highly recommend checking out the work of Stephen Few.

So, what do you need to measure to manage your inventory?

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What your Dad can teach you about effective supply chain

AndrewDunbar

Co-author: Alvaro Fernandez

Dads can teach you a lot about supply chainHappy Father’s Day to all those hardworking dads out there! Ever notice how your dad’s advice always seems to come from a place of experience? He’ll always let you make your own mistakes, unless he’s already made those same mistakes himself. In honor of these dads’ accomplishments in the field of trial and error, I’ve compiled a list of the top 10 lessons your dad can teach you about supply chain.

10. First pants, then shoes – Whether you’re getting dressed for work or increasing your supply chain maturity, it’s important not to get too far ahead of yourself. Make sure your supply chain solutions help you excel at each capability as you progress through the maturity model.

9. Know the risk – Ex. In principle, just-in-time processes are very efficient. You get to hold on to your hard earned money for longer, you don’t have to store extra inventory, and your workspace isn’t cluttered with things you don’t need yet. In practice, these high rewards comes with high risk. Dads have learned this the hard way by applying this approach to things like anniversary gifts, anniversary cards, and sorry-I-missed-our-anniversary flowers. It’s important to understand the risks in your supply chain, and to have the right mitigation strategies in place.

8. Never trust the salesman – As the saying goes, if it looks too good to be true, it probably is. Save yourself the hassle and choose proven and recognized solutions.

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Step Two: Stage Five Supply Chain Planning System of Record (SCP SOR)

CarolMcIntosh

Excellene is step two of a stage five SCP SOR

In my first blog I wrote about the first step to reaching a Stage Five Supply Chain Planning System of Record (SCP SOR) which was securing the right talent.

Step Two is about achieving functional excellence (or is it?).

 

SCP SOR Building Blocks

What is the necessary foundational planning layer required to support demand/supply planning for your industry?

There are specific functional requirements necessary for supply chain planning. The short list includes:

In more detail this can include:

Over the years, you have likely evaluated multiple vendors on their functional capability. However is this enough? Is it really about evaluating and optimizing each individual process?

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Inventory Management Levers – Success Through Collaboration

AndrewDunbar

Inventory management requires a collaborative effortSo you’re an inventory manager, and your CFO just asked you to reduce inventory by 10% before year end to free up some capital for next year’s big investment in R&D. At first glance, it’s not so bad; you’ve got nine months to do it. But then you look at historical trends and see that lately, your inventory has been growing by 3% each quarter. Suddenly, you need to be about 20% below your current year end plan! That’s a big challenge! On top of that, you know you’d better do it without negatively impacting your customer service levels, because you can’t afford to spend all your time fighting fires for your customer service representatives.

So, what improvement levers can you pull to accomplish this goal? Do you have the authority to act on your own? Even if you don’t, you can be sure that you’ll be held accountable anyway!

Below are five levers that I believe should be available to an inventory manager to help them effectively plan and manage inventory. I’ll refer to Figure 1 below, a simple representation of the inventory of over time for a single part with safety stock, to explain the impact that each lever can have on your inventory levels.

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Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference – High Stakes in the Desert

TrevorMiles
  • by Trevor Miles
  • Published

A group of smiling kids just like Trevor Miles was all smiles at the Gartner Supply Chain Executive ConferenceI love attending the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference. Much has changed in supply chain over the past 25 years, though there are many that date from that time, many of whom I run into at the conference, who would deny this. For me it is like a summer camp I have attended for many years. One of my younger colleagues walked with me through the hallways to a meeting and remarked afterwards that he thought we would be late because of the number of times I stopped to talk to people. What he doesn’t realize is that this is due to familiarity, as much as I wish it were true that his assumption of stardom was correct.

What continued presence at the conference has given me is the long view of how supply chain management, and my focus area, supply chain planning has evolved. When I first started attending the Gartner Supply Chain Executive Conference no one had a degree in supply chain management and vendors were not welcome. Most business people were in fact very unfamiliar with computers and the majority of the vendors had advanced degrees in Operations Research. Nevertheless the core focus was on process, with people (skills) coming second, and technology excluded from the conference. This year there must have been 50 exhibitors at the conference, some of whom were more focused on people and process, the majority of whom were focused on planning.

What I find strange in all of this is that almost always the central theme of the Gartner Supply Executive Chain Conference is about technological changes that will drive process changes and the need for skills development. This was as true this year as it was last year, and the years before. And yet within the community of supply chain practitioners the three horsemen of people, process, and technology are often portrayed as being in conflict. In fact the usual mantra is that you have to get the process right first, recruit/train to fill the roles, and then buy technology to satisfy the process. Hogwash.

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