3 Ways Crowdsourcing Is Revolutionizing Supply Chain Management

KirstenWatson

Visual representation of crowdourcing using heads made of mechanical gearsThe term crowdsourcing—the process of obtaining ideas, services or information by soliciting feedback from a large group of people—has existed since 2005. But its fundamental concept predates the name by centuries. In 1714, the British government offered the public a monetary prize to the person who created the best solution for measuring a ship’s longitude.

As has been this case with so many concepts, the internet has given crowdsourcing phenomenal reach and influence. We’ve already seen the significant impact that crowdsourcing has on modern business product development, production and delivery, and that effect will undoubtedly only grow over time. Here are three ways that crowdsourcing is revolutionizing supply chain management today—and in the future.

Crowdsourcing increases on-time, cost-effective delivery.

Amazon consistently ranks on or near the top of lists touting the best supply chains—and for good reason. It drives an innovative fulfillment strategy through its vast distribution center network and independent delivery fleet that enables it to guarantee two-day delivery. Amazon’s achievements in supply chain management have led consumers to establish an incredibly high bar for timely and accurate product delivery. The Amazon customer satisfaction standard has changed the game for every retailer of every size.

Crowdsourcing transportation presents a solution for smaller enterprises to compete in this environment. One such service provider is Cargomatic, who connects local shippers with carrier companies who have extra space in their trucks. The “last-mile” phase of the traditional fulfillment process is often the most expensive (accounting for as much as 50 percent of a company’s logistics costs), but crowdsourced transportation can sometimes enable same-day delivery at the cost of standard shipping. And crowdsourced traffic apps like Waze are helping a multitude of delivery drivers find the most efficient routes with real-time help from other drivers.

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Four Keys to S&OP Effectiveness

LoriSmith
  • by Lori Smith
  • Published

an airplane cockpitIn a previous post, I talked about the ineffectiveness of Excel, ERP, and legacy planning for S&OP. If those aren’t the right tools for the job, what is?

I heard a colleague once give the following analogy: Imagine a pilot flying from New York to Los Angeles at night without any navigation systems or instruments to measure his location, wind speed, or altitude. Instead, every two hours he checks the stars with a sextant, extracts data from the flight recorder about his throttle settings, and draws in the plane’s likely location on a map.

What are the chances of that pilot actually getting to LA? Can he arrive on any predictable timetable? You’ll likely agree his chances are slim to none.

A modern pilot embarks with a general flight plan, but then monitors a continuous readout of key metrics, which he uses to make numerous small course corrections to arrive at the proper destination on schedule.

It’s the same for business. Successful S&OP provides a navigation system to help determine where you are going, where you have been, when you are off course, and how to get back on course.

The four keys to highly effective S&OP are:

  1. East-West integration – bringing together demand and supply planning
  2. North-South integration – bringing together Finance and Operations
  3. Tying together volume and mix plans
  4. S&OP on-demand, not only on-schedule

With this model of S&OP, process execution evolves into operational orchestration, efficiency goals are coupled with measures of effectiveness, and cost control objectives are appropriately balanced with mandates for delivering business performance and value-based outcomes.

In this post, I’ll tackle the first two keys and I’ll follow-up with a second blog post for the latter two.

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Learn from the Supply Chain Masters – Q&A with Ron Stappert

AlexaCheater

Ron StappertContinuing with our ‘Learn from the Masters’ series, which features answers to your burning supply chain-related questions from our talented business consultants, we bring you the sarcastic wisdom of Ron Stappert. Ron has been a business consultant with Kinaxis for the past four years, and despite what his answers below may portray, he really does love his job. We promise!

How did you come to find yourself in a supply chain software business consultant role – what was your path to here?
Climbing mountains wasn’t challenging enough, so I picked supply chain management.

What’s the biggest lesson about supply chain management you’ve learned?
If it was easy, anybody could do it.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in supply chain?
Your greatest recurring challenge will be overcoming resistance to change.

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Tapping the Power of Many – The Application of Social Enabled Supply Chain Processes

BobFerrari
  • by Bob Ferrari
  • Published

hand touching touch pad, social media conceptThe 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.

In March of 2011, I had the opportunity to join fellow supply chain management bloggers Trevor Miles and Lora Cecere in a Kinaxis sponsored thought-leadership webcast focusing on the potential of the social supply chain. The concept of the social supply chain was relatively new, not well understood, and lacking many specific examples to cite. The closest context was one articulated by noted IT author Geoffrey Moore, who labeled the term “systems of engagement”. Back then, supply chain organizations were becoming aware of Facebook and Twitter, but not in the context of business. Many businesses were banning the use of social media on work premises.

Yet, we all believed that the potential leveraging of social media tools in demand, supply and risk management elements of supply chain business processes had enormous potential. I noted in a Supply Chain Expert Community posting at the time that: “social concepts do not equate to endless 120 character streams of unrelated or broadcasted information, but rather a context to a business process need.”

Indeed, four years later, after much market education and early adopter successes, leveraging social supply chain applications to enhance business processes has far more meaning and applied uses. The notion of social tools as mechanisms for matching people possessing respective skills, expertise, and knowledge with specific internal or external process and decision-making needs has more meaning and application. That is especially pertinent to today’s reality of increasingly complex and fast moving globally based supply chain networks.

It is about tapping the expertise and power of the extended supply chain network.

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Excel, ERP and Legacy Apps, Oh My! What Technology is Supporting Your S&OP Process?

LoriSmith
  • by Lori Smith
  • Published

Can the S&OP process be done without technology?

The answer to that question has certainly evolved over the years, and while there are still some holdouts, most will now agree that technology is indeed required. Whether its objective should be to support the process or help define the process remains a healthy debate.

Fundamentally, the more complex the organization and the more mature the process, the greater the need for technology. So what technologies are today’s supply chain teams using to support the critical S&OP process? Amazingly, it seems most organizations are running their process with spreadsheets.

It never ceases to surprise me when I hear how many enterprises entrust a mission-critical task to the desktop spreadsheet software Excel®. On the other hand, the fact that so many turn to Excel is proof that despite the plentitude of systems (or perhaps because of it), existing ERP and legacy planning apps are not meeting the requirements for S&OP processes regardless of where that process is positioned on the maturity curve.

Consider the Supply Chain Insights report, Research in Review (Nov 2014), that states:

“Many companies have five to 30 Enterprise Resource Planning systems and two to three supply chain planning systems. In addition, companies will have two to five S&OP processes working independently.”

This demonstrates an enormous level of complexity, from both a process and data perspective.

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Learn from the Supply Chain Masters – Q&A with Dominic Thomas

AlexaCheater
  • by Alexa Cheater
  • Published

Dominic ThomasMoving along with our ‘Learn from the Masters’ series, which features answers to your burning supply chain-related questions from our talented business consultants, we bring you the newbie – Dominic Thomas. Dominic has only been with Kinaxis a few short months, but he’s no slouch in the supply chain field, with more than 20 years experience!

How did you come to find yourself in a supply chain software business consultant role – what was your path to here?
I applied for a co-op job in university in which the description said “opportunity to travel”. A few years and several software implementations later, I switched over to business consulting and have done this ever since.

What’s the biggest lesson about supply chain management you’ve learned?
After being in this business for 20 years, I know that developing the “perfect” plan is a fruitless exercise. Supply chains are getting more complex, competition is increasing and consumers are becoming more demanding. The only certainties in life are death, taxes and that (supply chain) plans change all the time. Responding to these changes in a timely way is what matters.

What advice would you give to anyone considering a career in supply chain?
It’s a fascinating area to focus on. The supply chain matters! It delivers things that you and your family use every single day. Learning about it and being creative in your approach to problem solving can be very rewarding.

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A Collection of Bad Supply Chain Poems

AlexaCheater
  • by Alexa Cheater
  • Published

supply chain poetry bookYes, you read that title right. In honor of Bad Poetry Day I asked my colleagues to send me their best (and worst!) supply chain-related sonnets, odes, limericks, haikus – well you get the point. It turns out I work with quite a creative crowd.

Now keep in mind this is BAD poetry day. So if you’re looking for Shakespeare quality prose, I suggest you just keep on looking. Without further ado, enjoy these supply chain poems written by Kinaxis staff just for you!

 

An Ode to Supply Chains
By Alexa Cheater

O supply chain, how I do appreciate thee,
always working hard to bring things to me.

From raw goods to finished, and everything in-between,
your complexities are many, especially when you’re lean.

Don’t let anyone dismiss you or belittle your worth,
because without you supply chain, nothing could ever circumvent the Earth!

 

Supply Chain on the Brain
By Lori Smith

I’ve got supply chain on the brain
I’m trying to stay sane
Amid my supply-demand pain
I don’t want to plan in vain
So I need to refrain
From forcing only one lane
Go against the grain
The key is to bend and change
Flexibility without strain
Old supply chain models slained!
My determination will not wane

 

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Tackling Life’s Big Questions… What is S&OP

LoriSmith
  • by Lori Smith
  • Published

Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) has been around for a long time. It’s been called “old hat” and “the new kid on the block.” Both are true. And despite having been around for decades, S&OP continues to gain momentum and grow in maturity.

Most of us in the supply chain industry have a conceptual and common understanding of what S&OP represents, however the variety of ways in which S&OP is executed demonstrates that it can mean very different things to different organizations.

A typical/traditional Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) process is primarily:

  • Operations led
  • Mainly focused on satisfying revenue and margin goals
  • Aimed at attempting to meet a forecast for a discrete planning horizon, usually 6-24 months
  • Sequential and involves isolated planning activities consolidated at a high level and then pushed up to management for approval, and pushed down to manufacturing for execution

And most experts agree that S&OP has four ingredients:

  • People: the cross-functional teams involved
  • Process: the way you make decisions and manage meetings
  • Information: the data from your demand and supply chain
  • Technology: the systems that support planning and decision-making

Not everyone agrees on the correct proportions of these ingredients, but everyone agrees that S&OP needs all four. Knowing exactly what is required for each of these areas, and potentially most importantly, finding the right balance between them is the key to effective and efficient planning cycles that drive maximized value for the enterprise.

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