Daily Archives: November 18, 2008

The Sourcing Maniacs 2008 Vendor Tour Part XII: Kinaxis

This post is a little lengthy, so it’s been broken into Kicking It and Kinaxis, which you can skip to if you’re short on time.

Kicking It

Wakko That hits the spot!
Yakko I hope so! That was your fourth serving of pulled-pork!
The maniancs just finished visiting Integration Point in North Carolina.
Wakko So, where are we off to next?
Dot I think we’re done with the I’s. Time for the J’s.
Yakko I only know of JVKG, who do services, and JDA who do logistics and warehouse management.
Dot I don’t know any J’s. I guess that means we skip straight to the K’s!
Yakko I don’t know many K’s either. What does Kewill Systems do?
Dot More logistics. Kanbay?
Yakko Consulting. Kinaxis?
Dot What do they do?
Yakko Something called Rapid Response Management.
Dot What’s that?
Yakko Honestly, I have no idea!
Wakko even Wakko doesn’t have a snappy combeack!
Dot Should we check them out?
Yakko the doctor says they’re rather unique
Dot That’s interesting … where are they?
Yakko Their US headquarters is back in Chicago.
Wakko Can we go to the Funhouse Maze this time?
Yakko I guess so.
Dot Okay! Let’s head back!
  the maniacs were recently in Chicago visiting FieldGlass
the maniacs head back towards Chicago; we rejoin them a few days later
Wakko Here we are!
out comes the mini-mallet
tap … tap a smiling man opens the door
Smiling Man Greetings!
Wakko quickly putting the mini-mallet away
Hi! We’d like a Rapid Response!
Smiling Man To?
Yakko What Wakko means to ask is, what is “Rapid Response”?
Smiling Man And you are?
Yakko I’m Yakko.
Dot I’m Dot.
Smiling Man And you’re with?
Dot No one at the moment.
Smiling Man So you want?
Yakko To learn!
Smiling Man And you’re here?
Yakko Because the doctor said you had a unique solution.
Smiling Man And?
Dot We’re bored.
Yakko Can you tell us what you do?
Smiling Man I’m not sure it will help you, but ok.


Yakko So what is Rapid Response?
Smiling Man RapidResponse is our demand management platform, available on-demand, that is used by manufacturing supply chain professionals to manage their change-ready supply chains.
Yakko How does it do that?
Smiling Man It integrates with your supply chain systems, monitors data in real time, and automatically detects changes that could have a negative impact on your supply chain. It then alerts the appropriate individuals who can run different scenarios to evaluate their options and come together in the tool to collaboratively solve identified problems. But to really understand what that means, we need to take a step back and make sure you understand the problem.
Dot Sure!
Smiling Man In the past, manufacturing companies would typically forecast demands on an annual basis, cut contracts with suppliers and 3PL companies, and then tweak their operating plans every quarter or every month. These forecasts, and operation plans, would be created by gathering multiple years worth of demand and production data and a sophisticated set of assumptions created by internal experts, which would then be fed into complex planning software which would churn on a big model, often for days on end, and spit out a master plan that the company would adhere to.

But that was when business, and the world around it, moved at a slower, and more predictable, pace. Today, the world is increasingly volatile and dynamic, demand and available supply levels change rapidly, an ever increasing amount of your business is outsourced across an increasingly complex supply network, and yesterday’s plan may no longer be valid today.

Manufacturing operations need to be able to monitor their supply and demand networks in real time and take course corrections as soon as demands change or supply inavailability puts production, and thus revenue, in jeopardy. You can’t do that with your traditional Advanced Planning and Optimizer (APO) tool.

Our tool gives businesses the capability to monitor supply and demand in real time, immediately determine the impact of a demand or supply change from a production and revenue perspective, and react to the changes.

Yakko How does it do that?
Smiling Man We integrate with all of the standard ERP and planning systems on the market using data files in standard file formats and import data in from all of your manufacturing systems at your various locations — be they Oracle, SAP, JD Edwards, or Excel flat files — which is updated as often as you like — every day, every hour, or every minute. Every time data is updated, the relevant supply chain models are updated and any supply or demand discrepancies are immediately detected and the appropriate individuals are alerted through the tool’s message center, if the change doesn’t require an immediate response on behalf of a person, or through e-mail.

The appropriate individual can log into the system and review the impact of the change. She can then create virtual scenarios that, depending on the situation, reduce or delay production, expedite supply shipments, or alter expected demand levels. These can then be shared with colleagues who can collaborate through the tool to determine the right response to a demand change or supply chain disruption. When the appropriate response is decided upon, the supply chain model is updated, and any changes are pushed back to the appropriate systems the raw data was collected from.

Dot So is the tool hard to use? It sounds like it’s based on advanced mathematics. Am I right?
Smiling Man Like the APO systems it is replacing, it is based on very advanced mathematical models that combine the best of optimization and simulation and update themselves in real time on every data change. But, at least in our view, and the view of many of our customers which include some of the largest manufacturing organizations in the world, it’s quite easy to use — even easier than the Excel-based spreadsheets that so many organizations still rely on as their legacy APO systems don’t allow them to centralize all of the relevant data in one application or create virtual scenarios to analyze as many different possibilities as our tool allows.

Our application uses a tree-based table view which, once you’ve modeled the appropriate part of your supply chain network, allows you to quickly drill-in, find, and update the data associated with a product, part, or raw material. No more searching through pages upon pages of workbook data to find that one cell that needs to be corrected. Drill, drill, select the proper cell, update the quantity or delivery date, hit enter, and not only are you done — but the entire plan updates in real time.

Dot So it must be hard to setup the network?
Smiling Man No, that’s quite easy too. Create a “workbook” that represents the supply chain for the products you’re interested in, define the different nodes (factories, warehouses, distribution centers, and raw material supply centers), define the flows and their properties (Beijing to LA, 21 days, etc.), define the products you produce, consume, or transfer (within your production and distribution network) at each point, map inputs (consumables) to output (produced products), collect the demands from your current forecasting system, and you’re done. If you have a large network, and if you’ve never formally modeled your network like this, it might take a bit of time, but it’s quite easy.
Dot You say “workbook”. Does this mean your product supports multiple networks?
Smiling Man It supports multiple supply networks and multiple views of the same supply network.
Dot Why would you want that?
Smiling Man Let’s say you have a processed food division and a household products division. Although the products produced by both divisions might be sold in the same store, chances are that both divisions require very different inputs with little overlap, that use pretty much separate networks. In this situation, you’d want to model your supply chain as different networks.

You want multiple views because different business units — procurement, manufacturing, finance, and management — each care about different aspects of your supply chain at different levels of detail. Our tool allows you to set these views up once and then everyone gets to see what they want to see, how they want to see it, since you can customize the scorecards, and reports, available in each workbook.

And, as you probably figured out, each workbook supports multiple scenarios. The current scenario that represents your current production plan, and any problems that it might have, and multiple “what-if” virtual scenarios that allow you to model different plans, and different responses to changing supply and demand patterns, any one of which can be promoted to the current plan at any time by the individual with the authority to do so.

Dot So how many different workbooks can you have?
Smiling Man As many as you want. Most of our installations have at least 10 to 20, and we have a large number of templates to enable our customers to set up the views their various business units need. Our tool is quite versatile despite the fact it was designed for demand planning. Some organizations even use it for projected purchase price variance analysis because it has the most complete data view of any system in their organization!
Dot And it has lots of reporting?
Smiling Man You can set up scorecards for each workbook and scenario, define which metrics you want to track, and see how you’re performing today versus yesterday or another point in time. And you can create reports off of these scorecards. It’s not a full blown reporting tool, but it gives you what you need — in real time — and if you want something fancy, you can do a data export and create whatever you want in your internal reporting package.
Yakko Is that it?
Smiling Man Well, if we dig in, and open it up, you’ll find a lot of cool features and applications, but that’s pretty much it. Our customers told us what they really needed was a way to synnchronize supply and demand data, monitor it in real time, define corrective actions, and put them into play — quickly — so that’s we focussed on. An on-demand real-time application that solved the one problem no one else was solving for them. And that’s what we continue to focus on as our primary goal. As we identify additional capabilities that will be of use to our customers, we’ll add them over time. But our focus won’t change.
Yakko Makes sense.
Smiling Man We think so. And with that, I have more educational responsibilities to fulfill. Good day.