Saturday, March 9, 2013

"Managing in the Now" by Kinaxis

Kinaxis is a company that provides rapid response solutions to supply chain and sales and operations planning. In his presentation, Trevor Miles, a thought leader at Kinaxis brings out that as much as it is important to plan demand, the planning is not full proof without implementing processes that respond profitably. A company may plan and project to achieve success but there are a couple of things that one may not be able to effectively plan for including supply disruptions and delays, volatile supply prices and demand, changing expectations, constrained resources,order and forecast changes,last minute ordering, more customer inventories, shorter product lifecycles and mass customization where consumers are widely requiring their own product after very short periods governed by the shrinking product life cycles. Responsiveness goes a long way in managing these instances that are not easily predicted and factored in for the success of a supply process. Responding profitably is inclusive but not limited to collaboration with partners with data constantly being in a continuum. He advises that monitoring and planning about the environment in the short term and long term needs to be in a continuum with having the ability to plan variance with a quickly responsive mechanism. The information cycles need to be continuous and one needs to predict the possible errors of their own forecasting to enable the supply chain to be profitably responsive. He advises that there are costs involved in making a supply chain responsive, for instance in the technology that would be required, but the gain to be made is the flexibility of a supply chain to be able to satisfy customer demand. Trevor describes the concept of multitude visibility and collaboration where data needs to be shared with everyone involved in the supply chain and in a timely manner to enable smooth operation. When everyone involved, in internal and external operations is on the same page as far as a supply chain is concerned, they are able to perceive the chain and its needs and problems in a similar way, thereby enabling problem solving as situations arise. The same data should be used in making decisions and specifying the patterns of a supply chain. In this way decision makers are able to integrate the different steps of the supply chain in one continuum as they use a similar set of data. Bringing everybody in every step of the supply chain together in a single data model with a single set of analyics can enable them to understand information that is specific to them. In conclusion, it is important to plan ahead and make critical decisions in the supply chain. However, it is important to note that there might be hurdles that are unforseeable. It would therefore be very important to be able to design the supply chain in a manner that ensures that it is able to respond rapidly and profitably irregardless of any volatility. Information sharing amongst the different players in the supply chain where similar data is consolidated and a similar framework of understanding is developed and communicated along all the steps is important to facilitate a situation where problems do not disrupt the process irreparably. The supply chain can be understood as a whole by the different players in the supply chain and issues arising can be managed in the moment. Planning and responsiveness do come hand in hand, would you agree so?

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