KFC, a fast food favorite, made headlines last month for suffering a chicken shortage that brought 900 restaurants in the UK to a halt. Recently, the chain announced it was suffering from a gravy shortage as well. Not ideal for a chicken restaurant. No chicken and no gravy mean no customers. The whole debacle could have cost Yum! Brands Inc., KFC’s Parent company, up to £1m in losses per day. Not to mention a PR crisis that, despite a cheeky apology, will follow the company for years to come. What went wrong?
For three decades now I have been helping my clients with their Supply Chain questions….I have seen a lot of change along my journey. Some of my early projects included initiatives like helping large retailers transform from a pure paper-based operation inside their 4 walls to a first-generation Warehouse Management System (WMS). I also helped my clients with Sales & Operations Planning and with Distribution Network Design and Transportation Optimization Projects, to name just a few. In the past, all of these projects shared a few common traits including long, tedious and expensive implementations involving small armies of consultants. It would take a long time and a lot of money before businesses could see improvement. That is not the case any longer. Today, I am happy to say that I am still helping clients make better decisions. The big difference is AIMMS. Today, with our Agile approach and extremely cost-effective cloud native technology, my clients are using our software in a matter of days to improve their business.
The chemical industry is facing some powerful changes that are directly impacting revenues and margins. It’s also highly competitive. Everyone is trying to dominate their niche. This means chemical companies need to be adept at managing costs and profitability. But doing this ad hoc is too difficult. Having the right technology is key.
Spreadsheets and legacy tools are no longer enough
There’s a lot of flux in the chemical industry. Raw material prices fluctuate constantly. Selling prices vary depending on international markets and what’s happening in certain countries. That margin between selling prices and raw material prices needs to be carefully managed.
At the same time, the industry is consolidating and changing rapidly. As mergers and acquisitions increase, managing demand in large geographies becomes even more complex. Companies that spin off due to M&A activity need to find ways to manage their own destiny. Many chemical companies are using S&OP (Sales & Operations Planning) as a tool to tie up operational planning and activity with financial goals and strategy. Many are still using spreadsheets and legacy tools to support this process. These tools may provide a good starting point for S&OP, but do not always provide the sustainability or flexibility that companies require to be agile during times of rapid change.
In today’s business environment, you can’t remain competitive without mastering analytics. Still, most companies are “not very far” when it comes to implementing analytics and garnering benefits from data, as a recent survey from CSCMP suggests. In many cases, organizations haven’t succeeded in making the organizational changes required to become data-driven. Not enough managers are fluent in the language of analytics. Leveraging analytics at scale is hard. As the graph below shows, lack of talent, investment in hardware/software and siloed data are among the most common challenges.
AIMMS has been active in the supply chain space for over 28 years. We’ve seen the evolution of the industry and its ongoing transformation, and have embarked on a transformation ourselves. The skills of the past are no longer sufficient to meet the demands of today’s complex, fast-moving digital environment, or prepare for the future. There is also a talent shortage. As the most experienced supply chain professionals retire, CSCMP estimates that as many as 3.5 million positions may go unfilled by 2020. The competition for talent is tough, as “demand for supply chain professionals is estimated to exceed supply by a ratio of six to one.” Here are three things you can do to attract and leverage talent for the digital supply chain.
According to a recent Wall Street Journal article, finance chiefs are cutting back on Excel because it hasn’t “kept up with the demands of contemporary corporate finance units.” “I don’t want financial planning people spending their time importing and exporting and manipulating data, I want them to focus on what is the data telling us” – Adobe Inc.’s finance chief Mark Garrett tells WSJ journalist Tatyana Shumsky. This mood prevails among supply chain executives as well.
Spreadsheets still dominate planning in the supply chain. We recently commissioned Supply Chain Insights to conduct independent research on supply chain network design, and 65% of the companies surveyed are reportedly using spreadsheets to support this process. Spreadsheets are familiar, inexpensive and convenient. But they pose serious setbacks for organizations:
- They are practically never integrated with other systems
- They are not updated automatically
- The logic behind them is often only clear to those who create them and often dies when somebody leaves, making collaboration difficult
- Analyses are often slow given that you can only work with a certain amount of data
- Version control is hard
Perhaps most importantly, spreadsheets are error prone. In fact, as Market Watch reports, close to 90% of spreadsheet documents contain errors. Even after careful development, spreadsheets “contain errors in 1% or more of all formula cells.” In large spreadsheets with thousands of formulas, there are often dozens of undetected errors.
An interview with Boon Edam’s Aron Waas
Implementing Sales and Operations Planning has many benefits. To truly leverage it to improve business performance and predictability, you need to embark on a change management process and you need the right technology to self-enable your team. Often, teams think they also need plenty of clean and accurate data to do it right. But starting small can pay off. We spoke with Aron Waas, Global Supply Chain Director at Royal Boon Edam International to hear about his company’s experience.
Hello Aron, can you tell me more about Boon Edam and your role as Global Supply Chain Director?
Boon Edam is a private, family-owned company that is over 140 years old. We are a manufacturer of premium entry systems, such as revolving doors and security access gates. We have 3 factories, one in USA, one in China and one in the Netherlands (in the city of Edam). We have over 20 sales subsidiaries and, at this stage, 3 different Distribution & Support Centers. These centers (or D&SCs) support our sales subsidiaries with all their inquiries, service requests and the delivery of products and services.
I am part of the global management team, responsible for everything that has to do with supply chain management. The directors of our D&SCs report directly to me.
Declining letter volumes and parcel competition are serious challenges faced by postal companies. Having a competitive supply chain is key to thrive, and survive, in this environment. How can postal companies make headway? The answer lies on changing culture as much as it does on rethinking technology.
Change should start with culture and organizational alignment
Global e-commerce growth and converging technologies are pushing postal companies to diversify their revenues and increase operational efficiency quickly. To support this change, many postal operators are modernizing their technology stack and relying increasingly on advanced analytics. UPS, for instance, has managed to save up $50 million a year in fuel, vehicle maintenance and time by optimizing vehicle routes with a big data model. The company has also won several awards for providing consumers with more control over deliveries using digital products.
The digital age has just begun. We haven’t seen the full force of disruptive business and operating models and there is no doubt that many more will keep emerging. We are only beginning to see the impact that digital transformation will have on our human resources as well. This will demand the creation of new and higher levels of personal development and organizational effectiveness to manage and sustain this culture transformation.
What are companies looking for in supply chain network design technologies? What works well, and what are the challenges? We commissioned Supply Chain Insights to conduct independent research about this topic and discussed the findings in a recent webinar. Today, we’re pleased to share a more extensive report on this topic. The report covers perceptions about supply chain network design (SCND) as a process and outlines the key benefits and barriers experienced by companies when using SCND technology. Let’s take a look at some of the key findings.