Collaboration and the making of a social supply chain

AgnesRubaj
  • by Agnes Rubaj
  • Published

A man uses a social collaboration interface

I received a somewhat confusing email a few weeks ago – an invitation, from a colleague, for me to join Yammer. The invitation didn’t provide much information about why I should be joining, so naturally a few questions ran through my head. Why have I been invited? Is this related to a project? Am I supposed to know? Did I miss something at the last team meeting?

I bit and created a Yammer account thinking that these burning questions would be answered…not so much. After poking around the home page, which resembled my Facebook news feed, I went straight to the source – the person who invited me. Turns out my colleague had been invited by someone else, and then invited me to join along with a few other team members. Which got me thinking: should a mere invitation be the driver to adopting a new collaboration tool? While Yammer certainly provides some intriguing features, for me the motivation just isn’t there – at least for the time being.

So what does this have to do with supply chain? Well, collaboration in a supply chain organization is essential to pretty much every role, from the customer service rep, to the demand planner, to the supply chain executive. And those are just the roles within the company. Supply chain organizations operate within global networks of external trading partners that require regular back and forth communication.

Social media aids collaboration within a business environment because it can help build trust and closely connect people from different roles, backgrounds, and locations across the globe. Many companies, in the supply chain space or not, are turning to enterprise social networking tools to influence collaboration and open communication throughout their departments. However, research shows that these tools are not getting as much traction as predicted and employees go back to relying on outdated collaboration methods, such as email, review meetings, and phone calls. One of the main cited causes is lack of business context.

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The Millennial Mentality: Is Your Supply Chain Ready for the Shift?

AlexaCheater

A group of millennials jump for joy. They have the purchasing power to change supply chains.It seems like everywhere I look I see mention of millennials, that ‘next generation’ who seems to be shaking things up in a big way. From the way companies do business to the products available on store shelves to the rising stars of the executive world, there’s no mistaking the millennial influence. That got me wondering, what kind of sway does this technology-loving, values-driven, need-to-know right now, group have over your supply chain. And do they deserve the power we’ve given them?

I should start by saying that I am in fact a part of this often talked about demographic, which according to Wikipedia is comprised of anyone born from the early 1980s to the early 2000s. I’ll let you guess where in that range I fall.

So why the big fuss about us up-and-comers? Well, according to Forbes, who agrees that 2015 is the Year of the Millennial, there are 80 million millennials in the U.S. alone, and it’s estimated that by 2017 we’ll be spending $200 billion annually. But it’s not just our spending power that has companies taking note. Here are a few facts from a Forbes and Elite Daily report.

  • A measly 1% are swayed to trust a brand based on advertising
  • 75% believe it’s fairly or very important for a company to give back
  • 62% will engage with brands on social media
  • 60% are often or always loyal to their regular brands
  • 42% are interested in co-creating products with companies
  • 87% use between two and three tech devices at least once a day

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What if there were no limitations to your what-if analysis? What would you simulate?

LoriSmith
  • by Lori Smith
  • Published

What if there were little, to no, limitations to the what-if analysis you could do? What if you could change anything (data, working assumptions, business rules) to explore options and see the impact instantly? What if you could do scenario simulations for any function of your supply chain? What if you didn’t need to make it an IT project to create new scenario parameters? What if I go on and on with these questions… ?

Like many supply chain capabilities discussed in the industry, it is something touted by many, but not all what-if capabilities are created equal. Many advanced supply chain planning systems involve conditions where computing power must be rationed, scenario parameters are limited and collaboration is not built-in. Yet the value of what-if analysis is in the power to put the ability to do scenario simulations in the hands of many.

What-if analysis, in the most optimal condition, would be quick, flexible, extensive, and collaborative. And because it’s fast and easy, the capability would be leveraged fully and often, leading to decision-makers being able to test multiple scenarios projecting the impact of various “what-if” alternatives and evaluating their achievement against relevant operations performance metrics so a team is choosing objectively among a full range of options.

And we would argue that is exactly what happens in RapidResponse. It’s our secret sauce after all – well maybe not so secret given how much we advocate it. The point is that what-if analysis is absolutely foundational to our product and among the most critical capability in delivering on the “Know Sooner, Act Faster” value proposition.

This came through loud and clear in some recent customer interviews, whereby our customers talked about how scenario simulations are being used across business processes (strategic to tactical) to enable new ways to analyze situations and make decisions… fast!

There are several short clips available that I hope you’ll check out, but in the meantime, here is a taste of a few on the topic of what-if.

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From Grower to Garden: The Complexities of the Nursery Supply Chain

AlexaCheater

A woman holding a plant brought by the nursery supply chainToday 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.

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The Fashion Supply Chain: Unraveling the Reality

AlexaCheater

Racks of clothing represent one stop on the fashion supply chainWhether you’re a fashionista or overly fond of the frumpy look, chances are you’re buying into the multi-billion dollar clothing industry. And whether you realize it or not, the garment industry supply chain is changing – both for the better and for the worse.

Cambodia, China, Taiwan, India – look at the ‘made in’ labels on your clothing and you’re likely to find these popular clothing manufacturing countries. A recent Wall Street Journal article reveals African nations such as Ethiopia may soon be added to that list thanks to their lack of minimum wage regulations. Apparently, the $67 a month workers make in Bangladesh was getting to be too costly. This represents what many feel is wrong with the industry – large companies willing to sacrifice human dignity and safety to save on their bottom line.

There have been countless examples of big fashion brands finding themselves caught up in controversy thanks to their supply chain, and the use of factories that pollute, employ child labor, mistreat workers or worse. Sadly, it took a major tragedy to open the eyes of millions to see exactly what goes into making the clothes on their backs.

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The Future of Inventory Management

AndrewDunbar

The future of inventory managementThis post concludes my inventory management blog series.

Throughout this series I’ve proposed an elevated role for the inventory manager that challenges the assumption that an inventory manager is a victim of his colleagues’ business decisions and plays only a limited role in formulating inventory results. Inventory management is not a stand-alone business process that occurs after other processes are complete. It is a high-level process that should be integrated into other supply chain planning processes including, at a minimum, sales and operations planning, master production scheduling and supply action management. Inventory managers should support multiple business objectives and should have business integrated targets related to inventory levels, customer service levels, total inventory cost, and inventory quality.

The inventory manager needs to act like an air traffic controller, effectively collaborating with his management peers to guide and coordinate their processes together in a way that leads to optimized inventory results. They should be able to update safety stock and order policy settings, and they should be able to collaborate on improvement initiatives related to lead-time optimization, supply and demand variability, and supply chain agility. It’s important for the inventory manager to have strong analytic skills and a deep understanding of the principles of supply chain management as a successful inventory manager will understand how to meet his targets without negative consequences in other areas of the business. The company should support the inventory manager with access to continuous learning resources and development courses to ensure they stay current and can take advantage of recent industry advancements.

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Top 3 Supply Chain Visibility Necessities… As Best Explained by Our Customers

LoriSmith
  • by Lori Smith
  • Published

Supply chain visibility… ah, yes, possibly the most over used term in the industry. And as is typical with over used terms, there are as many interpretations as there are colors in a kaleidoscope. What it means, what it involves, and what the goal is can be very different depending on the person, the organization… and even (or especially!) the solution provider.

Below you will find video links to Kinaxis customers that speak to the visibility they have gained from RapidResponse, which so fittingly articulates the three key components we believe are critical to gaining the type of visibility that can produce real value for an organization.

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A Chocolate Addict’s Plea: Know Your Supply Chain Risks!

AlexaCheater

Cocoa powder represents a supply chain riskHi, my name is Alexa and I am a chocoholic. It’s been less than a day since my last indulgence.

There’s no two ways about it. When it comes to the cocoa-laden confectionery, I’m hooked. It doesn’t matter if it’s milk, dark or white. Anything with even a hint of chocolatey goodness will suffice – and sadly for my waist line, one little taste is never enough.

What’s even more unfortunate than the effect on my figure is that it’s about to get a whole lot more difficult to feed my addiction thanks to a lack of insight into supply chain risk. The Wall Street Journal (WSJ) recently posted an article about the huge shortfall in the cocoa crop in Ghana. Dry weather coupled with the late application of vital pesticides to cocoa trees has caused the crop to shrink significantly, and sparked fears growers may not be able to deliver enough cocoa to fulfill their contracts. That means manufacturers will likely be scrambling to find enough cocoa to satisfy their chocolate producing needs.

Skyrocketing prices aside, this latest news is enough to send any chocolate lover to the store to stock up, and really puts the spotlight on a major supply chain risk in the $7 billion cocoa-futures market. As the WSJ points out, there is a drastic over reliance on the Ivory Coast and Ghana when it comes to the global cocoa supply chain. Together they account for more than half of the world’s cocoa supplies!

With that much of the world’s supply coming from one region, it’s no wonder the price and availability of chocolate fluctuates as wildly as it does. Natural disasters, poor growing conditions, pandemics, war, political and social unrest, terrorism and accidents can all have huge consequences on supply chains relying on either a single supplier, or suppliers who are all in the same geographic region.

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