Today is ‘Take Your Plant for a Walk Day’ (yes, apparently that is a real thing), and in honor of houseplants everywhere I thought I would look at the supply chain of an industry that has long fascinated me – the nursery industry. What exactly goes in to getting all those lovely shrubs, trees and flowers from the grower to the garden?
Let me start by saying that I personally do not have a garden. Why? Because while I love plants, they do not love me. No matter how enthusiastically the very knowledgeable staff tell me that this plant or that one can survive anything, the sad truth is none has survived my very, very black thumb, despite years of trying.
That of course does not stop me from visiting my local nursery to see what they have in stock. From seeds to shoots to seedlings and fully-grown shrubs, trees and flowers – the complexities of getting these plants to the end consumer are many.
Happy 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.
My wife and I just moved into our new home that we spent a good deal of our lifesavings building. We worked with our builder on every detail—windows, floors, paint, lighting—you name it. We met with so many of the tradespeople who invested so much time with us making everything just right—under my wife’s watchful eye I might add. Shortly after we moved in, one key decision that we were left with was which company to use to install and monitor our alarm system. You see, I travel a lot for work and knowing that all is well at home is something that’s pretty important to me.
These days there are so many security companies to pick from, each one trumping the other with the latest and greatest innovation. From controlling access from your mobile device, to motion detecting camera systems, the common thread is “innovation”. When securing your family and the things you cherish most, would you rely on old technology? Would “Hey, if we detect a burglar in your house, we will let you know tomorrow morning after our next batch run” make you feel good about your security company?
Shouldn’t the same go for your supply chain? Companies have invested hundreds of millions of dollars, pounds, euros and yen in supply chain planning systems since the late eighties. For a few, planning may have improved. For most, however, smart users have figured out ways of working around each of their disparate ERP and planning systems to make their businesses work. It is no secret that Microsoft Excel still remains the number one supply chain planning system in the world today.
Based on the conversations we’ve had with prospects, analysts and others in the field, we believe that most, if not all, are seeing SAP’s plans to discontinue standard support for their APO suite as the equivalent of an end-of-life plan without a directly replaceable product from SAP. That kind of uncertainty can be unnerving to say the least and only builds on existing frustrations in the market as it relates to supply chain planning solutions. As a result, many are reevaluating their solution strategy. We’ve witnessed that directly on a number of occasions, as enterprises have already replaced APO modules with RapidResponse. Given our success in this regard, we’ve established a formal upgrade program, which not only provides a proven technology alternative, but offers it in a way that allows companies to confirm the value before paying any software subscription fees.
This offer demonstrates our confidence that RapidResponse can provide the technology capabilities, SaaS delivery, and innovation cycles that are consistent with the needs of today’s businesses and that are in question with APO’s unsupported future.
In part one of this series I talked about how businesses trading in data as a commodity could be classified as using non-traditional supply chain. It was the most obvious case to prove non-traditional supply chain is actually a valid concept. After giving it some careful consideration, I can come up with an additional area that falls into the non-traditional supply chain category – people.
Take my sister for example. Her job requires her to travel to multiple hospitals in the region to provide a service, and she often has to visit more than one location in a single day. As her employer it would be nice to know exactly where she is, how much she has left to do at each location, and what her ETA is for arriving at the next one. Short of installing a tracking device and camera to monitor her every move (I’m sure she’d love that!), the only option is to put in place a standardized procedure where she checks in with her supervisor at regularly scheduled intervals to give a status update. Great in theory, but full of potential pitfalls in practice.
In honor of Earth Day I thought I’d take the opportunity to outline in my humble opinion why having a green supply chain is no longer a nice-to-have – it’s a necessity. Gone are the days when consumers would look the other way while companies rode roughshod over the environment in pursuit of a more profitable supply chain. Nowadays even governments (the good ones at least), are actively involved in making sure Mother Nature is protected, at least to some extent. Are you doing your part?
There is a growing need for sustainability integration into supply chain management and if you haven’t already started down the path to greener pastures you’re falling dangerously behind the trend, and it could be costing you more than you know.
According to a recent World Economic Forum report written in collaboration with Accenture, companies like UPS, SABMiller, DHL, Unilever and Nestle are among 25 multinational companies that have increased their revenue by up to 20% while cutting supply chain costs as much as 16% thanks to a focus on sustainability. Beyond Supply Chains: Empowering Value Chains outlines 31 best practices for businesses to follow in order to see similar results, in what they’ve termed “the triple supply chai
The following guest blog commentary is contributed by Bob Ferrari, Founder and Executive Editor of the Supply Chain Matters blog and Managing Director of the Ferrari Consulting and Research Group LLC.
We often context and plan supply chain transformation initiatives under the three-pronged perspectives of People, Process and Technology enablers. I would urge transformation teams to seriously consider a fourth component, that being Information, including the velocity, context and clarity of information. While some may be of the mistaken belief that the element of Information is solely the perspective of IT, it is rather a jointly-owned, cross-functional element of transformation.
Across various industry supply chains, a lot of executive level visionary thought and leadership energy is becoming focused on supply chain transformation efforts, namely moving the needle towards more agile or resilient supply chain response capabilities. The reasons are many and varied. Today’s clock speed of rapid and continuous business change requires that industry supply chains be more agile and able to anticipate changes in customer, product, or fulfillment segment needs, quicker than competitors. The complexity and sheer speed of events occurring across the global supply chain implies an exceptions-based focus, allowing advanced technology to monitor and oversee day-to-day customer focused fulfillment. Having a bold vision to the end-state capabilities required across the value-chain is essential. With the increasing demands of online and omni-channel customer fulfillment, the end-state is often defined as the supply chain being more predictive and exceptions-driven in terms of response.
Many of today’s industry supply chain and sales and operations planning (S&OP) teams however, find themselves drowning in too much data while lacking in important insights. Hence transformation efforts can start on the wrong footing.
SupplyChainBrain attended our annual Kinexions user conference, and while there, they completed a number of video interviews with customers, analysts, and Kinaxis executives. And, we’d like to share them!
We know that companies are desperate for new talent to help them achieve supply-chain excellence, as they grapple with ever-larger volumes of data and increasing unpredictability in consumer markets. Companies have been investing in supply-chain technology for 20 years or more – yet many are still far from the goal of creating global, demand-driven networks. “Getting there takes more than a great tool,” says Green.
Check out this recorded roundtable discussion with Benji Green, director of global supply chain operations with Avaya; Trevor Miles, executive vice president of thought leadership with Kinaxis, and Roddy Martin, managing director of Accenture Supply Chain Strategies.