Supply chain planning – it’s time to get personal


When sacrificing family time becomes the norm

Supply Planning Without the Personal Sacrifice Supply planning – to profitably align supply with demand. It sounds like something you could get done during an honest day’s work. As it turns out, it’s not that easy.

When I was planning supply, it wasn’t unusual to have a dinner interrupted, a weekend cut short or a vacation disturbed. That happened to be the norm. It wasn’t a surprise when a supplier shipped late, a machine was suddenly overloaded or a demand planner informed you that you were working off the wrong demand plan. We spent hours, even days sifting through countless spreadsheets and trying to navigate manual processes.

During that time, we also invested in some “just-in-time” techniques we borrowed from the Toyota Production System (TPS). Unfortunately, our planning survival instincts kicked in and our just-in-time processes were supplemented with just-in-case fallbacks. All of a sudden, we had just-in-case inventories,  and an exceptionally high number of expedites which really did nothing more than mask our supply planning deficiencies.

Taking back ownership of the issues

All of that was just business as usual. When we ran into unexpected disruptions like machine breakdowns or weather events that hampered deliveries, then it was goodbye to family time because the scramble was on. We thought we’d be in much better shape if suppliers could just keep their commitments, operations could manage their resources and demand planners could just get it right.

However, when we took a step back, we realized suppliers didn’t have timely information and supply planners were unknowingly overloading resources because they had no visibility into constraints and our manual processes. This meant it took too long for supply planners to understand the impact of demand changes.

Understanding what needs to change

Something needed to change. We needed to connect our supply chain planning to the rest of the network to include demand planning, operations and external suppliers. If there was a top-level demand change, we needed immediate bill of material explosions that would show us impact. We needed to consider all of our planning attributes like sourcing restrictions or material expiry.

We also realized we needed a smarter supply chain.

If we did have material that was going to expire, we needed automatic notifications to alert us so we could plan accordingly to avoid excess and obsolete materials. If we did get hit with the unexpected, we needed to simulate tradeoffs and compromises. By understanding the impact on revenue, delivery and margin, we could make decisions in time to have a positive impact on our performance.

Our latest eBook, Four mission-critical capabilities for navigating supply chain complexities, does a great job of capturing and explaining these supply planning capabilities.

Not only did we do a better job of profitably aligning supply with demand by implementing those critical capabilities, but I got my weekends back.

Check out the eBook here and let us know what you think.

Navigating Supply Planning Complexities


Bill DuBois has enjoyed over 20 years with Kinaxis in a number of roles including his current position as Director of Product and Marketing Content. Prior to his move to Marketing, Bill was a Senior Business Consultant providing pre-sales support to the Kinaxis Sales Team. This included developing and delivering “stand-out” product demonstrations, delivering ROI analysis and conducting pilot projects for prospective customers. Prior to joining Kinaxis, Bill gained 12 years of manufacturing, supply chain and lean experience while with Boeing of Canada. Bill is APICS CPIM certified. And as a qualified APICS instructor, Bill has developed and delivered APICS courses in material planning, master scheduling, capacity management and just-in-time. Bill has also developed and delivered Lean education and training packages for all levels of personnel. Bill studied Electronics Technology at Algonquin College in Ottawa, Ontario, Canada. Bill is also the host of our home-grown Stevie Award Winning Late Late Supply Chain Show. The Late Late Supply Chain Show videos can be found on the Just for Laughs section of the Supply Chain Expert Community. With top-ten list in hand, Bill keys up his late show antics appealing to a broad base of supply chain professionals — those who can laugh at the chaos of their daily lives. Bill has won the plaudits of critics — all one of them – and has proven himself in the ratings — first in Late Late Supply Chain shows! And Bill won’t stop until “this order has been filled.” Check him out for yourself!

More blog posts by Bill DuBois

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