Monthly Archives: May 2008

What I Learned From Conference Season I

Last week, a few of my fellow bloggers jumped the gun in their rush to share with you some of what they learned during conference season. Jason “The Prophet” Busch of Spend Matters was the first out of the gate with his post on Three Lessons From Conference Season where he suggested that:

  1. You don’t judge a book by its cover (or an event by past reputation)
    as both ISM and SAP Sapphire (apparently) put on a good show this year
  2. Your attitude is everything
    and the key to successful networking and learning
  3. You really can find examples of innovation at many events to take back to your organization
    and CVM Supply World, SIG, and even Ariba LIVE had numerous examples of innovation

This was quickly followed by Vinnie “The Deal-Maker” Mirchandani’s post on What I Learned From Conference Season on Deal Architect where he echoed Jason’s point about networking and how it generates the greatest value from these types of events. He also noted that the expo floor, which allows you to see many solution providers in a compressed time-frame, is also valuable. But his biggest “aha” was that his clients should also have tickets to the conferences and events so that they could take advantage of the events together, and not be on conference calls when they could be learning and networking on the expo floor.

And then Brian “Service Master” Sommer of Services Safari decided he just couldn’t wait any longer and offered up his humorous post on Traveling During Conference Season where he asked the Lord to save him from the “expert” travelers. (Who are the “expert” travellers? Follow the link to find out!)

But if you want to get technical, David Bush of eSourcing Forum and Tim Minahan and Justin Fogarty of Supply Excellence beat them to the punch with their learnings from reSource 2008 and Ariba Live. These can be found here:

reSource 2008 by David Bush and Michael Lamoureux

Ariba Live by Justin Fogarty and Tim Minahan

And then if you want to get really technical, Jason Busch and I have been blogging about conferences for over a month now!

Spend Matters Event & Conference Posts by Jason Busch

Sourcing Innovation Event & Conference Posts by Michael Lamoureux

Saving Fuel AND Your Pocketbook – Do’s and Don’ts Part II (Do’s)

Yesterday’s post exposed a number of gas saving myths that are floating around the web. Today, we’re going to give you some tips that will save you gas (if they apply to your situation). So, with out further ado, here are real gas savings tips:


  • Don’t idle!
    As much as 1/3 of all fuel consumed is through idling. If you’re picking someone up, unless they’re already at the door on the way to the car, turn the car off and use the 15-second rule. Although it does take more gas to start an engine than to idle it for a few seconds, today’s engines are much more efficient than those built when cars first started to be mass produced and mass consumed in the middle of the 20th century, and the amount of gas required to re-start an engine is roughly equal to a mere 10-seconds of idling time for an average vehicle. (Furthermore, 10 minutes of idling costs you five miles and ten minutes of idling a day adds up to 27 gallons of fuel a year.) Furthermore, don’t idle for more than 30 seconds when starting your car, even in freezing temperatures. (Today’s vehicles don’t need any longer than that.)
  • Don’t speed!
    It might be true that cars are more efficient on highways than on city roads, but that’s because they’re traveling at a constant speed and not constantly stopping and starting. Driving 10 mph faster than the speed limit can increase fuel consumption by as much as 20%! I can’t recall if it’s by design or by accident, but most vehicles hit their fuel efficiency peak somewhere between 45mph and 65mph, a range which covers the speed limit in most states and provinces. (Depending on terrain and, most importantly, wind resistance – which can really start to kick in at speeds as low as 40 mph!) Some tests show fuel savings of over 30% for moderate driving (when compared with aggressive driving).
  • Be easy on the gas and the brake!
    Not all roads are flat, and, for most of us, when we hit a hill on the highway, our natural reflex is to step on the gas – even if the hill is a small one! Furthermore, if we are constantly pushing the limit, our natural reflex is to then brake on the way down. This increases gas consumption by at least 10%. If you’re driving below (or at) the speed limit, the best thing to do is to maintain the current level of fuel flow and rpms. The slight loss in speed on the way up will be mostly made up by the slight increase in speed on the way down, and if you were under (or even at) the speed limit before you started going up, by the time you reach the bottom, you’ll still be under the limit (and have nothing to fear).
  • Don’t be afraid of overdrive!
    On long road trips where you are continually driving at highway speeds at long periods of time, put the engine into a higher gear. Used wisely, the right gear will save gas.
  • Use Cruise Control on the highway
    If you’re a lead foot by nature, or horrible at maintaining a (near) constant speed, use cruise control. Modern systems are incredibly efficient, average fuel savings at 7%, and some systems (especially when paired with lousy drivers) can increase fuel efficiency by as much as 14% on the highway.
  • Change your oil regularly
    A sludge-free engine operates more efficiently, and this reduces fuel consumption at any speed. (However, just like unnecessary air filter changes, unnecessary oil changes have no effect. So, don’t change your oil every three months just because your manual tells you to. It’s a function of time AND mileage.)
  • Don’t use your trunk or flatbed as permanent storage
    Every pound you haul is more work for your engine. Hauling a 50 lb toolbox and 30 lbs of golf equipment around when you don’t need it is equivalent to hauling a youth around all the time. With an average vehicle size of 2500 lbs plus these days, it might not sound like much, but over the course of a year, it adds up. For the really cluttered, it could increase your fuel efficiency by 5% to 10%.
  • Don’t keep your Hummer’s gas tank full in the city.
    Full tanks, like toolboxes and golf clubs, increase vehicle weight, and this is especially true in large vehicles with large tanks that hold well over 100 lbs, or more, of fuel. Although the savings will be negligible in an economy car with a 13 gallon tank, a SUV / truck with a 23 gallon tank can hold 142 lbs of gas (at 6.2 lbs / gallon).
  • Walk to the corner store and bike to your friend’s house.
    If you can walk or bike there in 15 minutes, just do it.

Saving Fuel AND Your Pocketbook – Do’s and Don’ts Part I (Don’ts)

CNN Money recently ran a good article on 6 gas-savings myths which is a good read for any of you who really do want to conserve fuel and the pocket-book it is taking a bigger chunk out of everyday. So, before I get to nine gas-saving tips, here are the six (plus one!) myths:


  • Fill your tank in the morning
    Sure, cold fuel is denser than warm fuel, but we’re talking gas, not water, and unless you’re living in Northern Canada near the arctic, the difference in volume is non-existent. Furthermore, the temperature difference of gasoline coming out of the nozzle varies little over the course of the day, so, as Consumer Reports rightly points out, there is little benefit to pumping during the coldest part of the day.
  • Change your air filter
    Modern engines have computer sensors that automatically adjust the fuel-air mixture as the engine’s air supply is reduced over time by an air filter that slowly clogs. Thus, the fuel savings from replacing your air filter more than necessary will be nonexistent.
  • Use premium fuel
    Premium fuel may be “recommended”, but it is definitely not “required”. Modern engines automatically adjust spark plug timing depending on the grade of fuel detected. You’ll get a slight reduction in horse-power, but you won’t get any fuel savings.
  • Pump-up your tires
    Under-inflated tires will increase fuel consumption, but over-inflated tires will not significantly decrease fuel consumption, because the reduced friction will not be that significant at normal driving speeds. Furthermore, the decreased traction will significantly increase your risk of crashing at speeds where fuel savings (theoretically) starts to kick in.
  • Turn off the A/C
    At slower speeds, modern A/C will cost you about 1 mpg, so, in an average economy vehicle, you could theoretically increase fuel economy about 4% by turning off the A/C in the city. However, at higher speeds rolled-down windows greatly increase aerodynamic drag, which increase fuel consumption, and A/C actually saves you fuel. Thus, if you make efficient use of the A/C (i.e. don’t try to cool your car to 15 and use the recycler feature for a quicker initial cooling once the air in your vehicle reaches a temperature lower than outside), the net is that the fuel consumption by modern A/C technology, on average, is negligible.
  • Use Bolt-ons and Pour-Ins
    Before you buy any device or additive to make your car more fuel-efficient, ask yourself the following “if there was such a device, wouldn’t the car manufacturer or fuel provider be selling this device, especially given the premium they could charge for their car or fuel with today’s fuel prices“? Most are just sugar pills, sold by con-artists who know that many of us will be just as happy with a placebo as a real pill (if we don’t know we’re getting the placebo).

Unfortunately, the article missed my favorite MYTH:

  • Go standard.
    Unless you drive like a pro, you’re not going to save any gas going standard and, in fact, you might actually consume more gas AND wear your engine out faster. Most modern automatic transmissions are so good at detecting when to switch gears that the maximum fuel savings from going standard is about 1 mpg. But chances are, unless you’re a very good driver, you’re not going to see any savings on average.

In our next post, we’ll discuss what you can do.

What I Learned From Conference Season – Prologue

The next Sourcing-Innovtion sponsored cross blog series on “What I Learned From Conference Season” starts next Monday – May 26, 2008. If you have not received an invite and would like to guest-post on this blog, please contact me at thedoctor <at> sourcinginnovation <dot> com.

Unlike previous cross-blog series, this theme is open. The goal is to have the leading bloggers and guest bloggers identify what they think are the most important topics, issues, and messages discussed and delivered in this years conference slate and pass those messages on to you, dear reader. Collectively, we’re going to define what’s coming next and what practitioners need to do to prepare for it! It’s become pretty clear to me of late, with the less than spectacular work coming out from some of the vendors and traditional publications, that us bloggers need to be the ones moving the space forward – and I’d like to think we’re up to the challenge!

As usual, I’ll be cross-indexing all of the posts that appear on the other blogs in the space for your conveinence.

For your reference, the last three cross-blog series were:

What is the State of the Discipline in Supply Chain Talent? Part II

In our last post, we discussed the conclusions drawn by AMR in their survey of 198 organizations to assess the state of the supply chain management discipline, identify key requirements to support a demand-driven curriculum, and construct the first functional talent attribute model (which can be downloaded from the Supply Chain Council). Today we’re going to discuss their new talent “model”.

“Model” is in quotes because I don’t know if “model” is the name for an intersection of seven (7) “functional” talent stations across four (4) “enabler” talent stations supported by three intersecting “networks”. Myself, I’d be tempted to go with “mess”. Take a look for yourself (and select the thumbnail to enlarge).

AMR Talent Model

Now, I’m sure you’re saying “this doesn’t look too bad”, and it doesn’t, until you dive into the sub-attributes, as compiled from respondents. Then you get:

Function Sub-Attributes
  • NPD Planning & Logistics Execution
  • Cross-Functional Collaboration w/ Ongoing Sales & Operations
  • Demand & Capacity Planning
  • Network Design
  • Make-vs-Buy Sourcing Decisions
  • Demand Management
  • Inventory Planning & Optimization
  • Sales & Operations Planning
  • Capacity Management
  • Modeling / What-If Scenarios
  • Sourcing Strategies & Plans
  • Total Cost Analysis
  • Supplier Selection & Development
  • Supplier Collaboration
  • Relationship Management
  • Negotiating & Contracting
  • Risk Management
  • Materials Management
  • Production & Inventory Control
  • Master Production Scheduling
  • Process Control
  • Product Conversion
  • Quality Management
  • Transportation – Strategic & Operational
  • Logistics Planning & Control
  • Warehousing – Strategic & Operational
  • Third Party or Outsource Management
  • Delivery Management
  • Inventory Management & Control
Customer Management
  • Relationship Management
  • Order Management
  • Customer Service

… and you wonder what happened to Post Sales Support, but you also get:

Enabler Sub-Attributes
  • Organizational Planning
  • Business Controls
  • Risk Management
  • Training
  • Fundamental Governmental Controls
Strategy & Change Management
  • Best Practice Analysis & Benchmarking
  • Change Management Techniques
  • Global Manufacturing & Distribution
  • Management Dashboards & Metrics
  • Life-cycle Management Strategy
  • Process Integration
  • Globalization
Performance Measurement & Analytics
  • Development of Dashboards
  • Hierarchy of Performance Measures
  • Presentation & Reporting
  • Ad-Hoc Analysis
Technology Enablement
  • Planning & Execution System Management, Selection & Implementation
  • New Technology Adoption
  • Enterprise Resource Planning System Management
  • IT Communications with Suppliers & Customers
  • Statistical Analysis Tools
  • EDI

And although all of this (and much more) is necessary, I think a layered model, that separates supply chain functions from supply chain technology, and that allows users to dive in on different areas of expertise, is needed – because not everyone needs to acquire such a broad understanding (and this is important because not everyone will be able to). Maybe something similar to what The Logistics Institute, which breaks the state of affairs down into a strategic view and process flow, is proposing.

Strategic View Process Flow

Although it’s arguable as to which model is more complete, the model from The Logistics Institute is easier to understand, and right now, I think that’s key.