Daily Archives: January 5, 2010

Supply Networks CAN NOT be too flexible

Every now and again I see a headline that really grinds my gears. A recent headline over on Supply Chain Brain that asked can supply networks be too flexible is one of them. Even before I read the article, I can tell you I was quite annoyed because a supply network can never be to flexible. When you consider the almost infinite number of things that can go wrong in today’s supply networks, and that the ability to recover on a dime could be the difference between profit and bankruptcy in today’s economic climate for a company that’s operating on razor thin margins, it’s absurd to even ask this question.

Then I got more annoyed when I read the first line, which quoted MIT professor David Simchi-Levi that said “I will not tell you the obvious”. Great … not! Another ivory-towered academic leaving the question vague and open-ended and further strengthening the stereotype that all of us PhDs are arrogant and don’t understand business and the need to get to the point — quickly. (While the former may be true, the latter is not where those of us that left the ivory tower is concerned.)

The saving grace is that before the paragraph ended, the author noted that “companies can spend too much time and money on achieving total flexibility in their sourcing and fulfillment strategies”, which is true. There is always a trade-off, and after a point, returns will diminish quickly. But the question isn’t whether a supply chain can be too flexible — because it can’t, but whether the cost of adding additional flexibility is justified with respect to the risks you are trying to mitigate, or whether the savings that can be achieved by reducing flexibility is worth the risks you are going to add. After all, any flexibility you can get for free is always worth it. You do need to do a(n optimization supported) total value analysis to figure out whether or not you have enough flexibility, or whether you could sacrifice some for worthwhile cost savings, but you never need to ask yourself whether flexibility is good. It’s always good. It’s just a question of whether or not you can afford it if it has significant operational impacts.

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What Sourcing Innovation IS Going to Do This Year

In my last post, I started off by announcing what sourcing innovation is not going to do this year because I thought it was important that you understood that Sourcing Innovation is going to stay the course it set out on day one, and not give in to the vendor marketers, especially the ones who, whether they realize it or not, are looking to invade your privacy. (Which means, if I were you, I’d be asking just how much that vendor who just cold-called really knows about you, considering they can know a heck of a lot more than what you filled out on that download form if you happened to visit a site, which could include their web-site, that gave in to a BI marketer’s demands.)

In this post, which, for the most part, will be less exciting than yesterday’s, I’m going to tell you what Sourcing Innovation is going to do this year. Hopefully most of it won’t surprise you.

1. Continue to offer FREE Product Reviews to any Vendor who wants them.

Sourcing innovation has never done a sponsored solution review and never will. (It’s all in the FAQ.) I will continue to review any supply management solution a vendor wants to demo in order to better educate you on what your platform options are.

2. Bring you more insights and innovation from the thought leaders.

Sourcing Innovation has always been where thought leaders converge. I intend to keep it that way. If I can’t bring you the best there is to offer on a certain topic, I’m more than willing to invite and publish someone who can. I also hope to announce a couple of new best-in-class contributors in the next month or so.

3. Keep you on the leading edge.

Sourcing Innovation was covering topics like sustainability, supply chain finance, and decision optimization before they became “in”, and was often doing so in what seemed like a void. Sourcing Innovation intends to keep on the leading edge and will continue to cover new topics, technologies, and trade issues as they emerge.

4. Do more deep dives into more technologies and processes.

Sourcing Innovation is known for it’s deep dives into decision optimization, spend analysis, and other sophisticated technology platforms. However, this year, it also branched off and did a deep dive into Overcoming Cultural Differences in International Trade, with the help of Dick Locke, and brought Norman Katz on-board as a contributor to address the rising importance, and risk, of fraud in your supply chain. It will continue to do deep dives into emerging and relevant issues that are not being adequately addressed by the big name publications and other blogs.

5. Get Meaner and Leaner

Up until now, you’ve probably been saying “that’s what I’ve come to expect from Sourcing Innovation — so what’s going to change?“. The answer is, as I tried to make clear in yesterday’s post on what sourcing innovation is not going to do this year, not much. Sourcing Innovation is going to stay true to it’s mission, no matter what the cost.

But it is going to get meaner. I’m fed up with vendors who still:

  • say blogs and other new media are irrelevant,
  • can’t be bothered giving me a demo but yet have their PR firms flood me with all of their trivial and BS press releases, and/or
  • try to pull the wool over our eyes by making much ado about nothing.

So, from now on, if they flood me with trivial and BS press releases but won’t give me the time of day and / or try to pull the wool over your eyes with a big announcement on a “ground-breaking” technology that doesn’t do anything more than a competitor’s solution did five years ago (but does come with a useless flash interface), I’m going to expose their BS for what it is. While I’ve been relatively nice to date, as I’ve been focussed on the innovation and positives in my reviews (as many of the vendors I reviewed were small companies trying very hard to bring value to their customers and deserved some slack), I can just as easily focus on the negative and rip any solution (or press release) to shreds if I want to — and from now on will happily rip into any BS thrown my way (or, if I’m too busy, throw it over to the Sourcing Maniacs). (Remember, I’m the one blogger in this space who can actually build world-class enterprise software systems so I not only know what can be done, but when I’m being BS’d.)

And it’s going to get leaner. Unless I can find more smart marketers who realize that even “qualified” leads are useless without credibility — which starts with visibility, who also work for companies that realize that the best customer is a smart and educated customer (and that their education should be sponsored) and give these smart marketers enough budget to actually do their job properly, the reality, which I made clear in yesterday’s post, is that there’s a chance that I’m not going to be able to afford to spend as much time on the blog as I’d like to this year. So, I’m going to work even harder to cut through the noise and focus in on what really matters to bring to you what no one else does. Even more than before, I’m going to make sure that every post is going to matter.

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