I was very, very, very disappointed to come across this recent article on The “New Normal” and Its Effects on Supply Chain Management in the Supply Chain Management Review because it’s one of the few publications in the place I hold in high regard and, as I pointed out in a recent post, there is no new normal. This means that there is definitely no new new normal either.
The author, who pointed out that senior managers in many businesses are using the catchphrase “The New Normal” as if it were a prescient view of the way things will be from now on, suggested that — since most decisions today are driven by economic conditions — we should consider a New New Normal, defined as a frame of mind where we choose to take the risk of utilizing practices that always work whatever the conditions are. Huh? And double Huh?
First of all, as I said in my last post on the topic, there is no new normal. We’re just in a transitory state on the way to the old normal … coming back after an extended hiatus. Secondly, no practice will always work. Markets always evolve, and practices that work regardless of economic state need to evolve with them. Third, smart companies are already using flexible practices that can adapt with the markets. In short, kill this new normal and new new normal BS and kill the new new new normal BS before it starts. Dust off those old business and economic texts from 20 years ago and start remembering how things in stable economies work — and if you need a reminder, look at the European economies which have been around longer. Then we can get back to the business of running the supply chain.
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As many of you know, there are not many vendors out there that (claim to) offer strategic sourcing decision optimization, and fewer still that meet the doctor‘s basic requirements for a strategic sourcing decision optimization platform. Up until a few days ago, I could only certify six such solutions, though I suspected BravoSolution, especially with its recent acquisition of VerticalNet, made the grade as I knew both were close. However, with the recent addition of the infamous Paul Martyn (formerly of CombineNet fame) as VP Marketing, BravoSolution has been reaching out to analysts and bloggers alike and I received the demo I needed to certify BravoSolution (and it’s Collaborative Sourcing platform) as one of the doctor‘s Optimization Sourcing Samurai.
I’ll keep this post fairly short since, by now, you all know the minimum requirements for a strategic sourcing decision optimization (SSDO) solution, and thus what the BravoSolution Collaborative Optimization platform offers by definition, which are:
- solid mathematical foundations,
- true cost modelling,
- sophisticated constraint analysis, and
- basic allocation
- risk mitigation allocation
- what-if capability.
What I will point out is the following:
- They have one of the easiest-to-use constraint definition UIs
Not only is it wizard-driven, but they have their constraint categories broken down into four primary categories and 15 sub-categories. In addition, their capacity switches and supplier and lane filters make it really easy to define capacity constraints and supplier exclusions.
- Their switches make it incredibly easy to construct scenarios from varied data sets.
They have four types of scenario switches:
which let you determine whether or not you want to include bundles (to allow you to compare bids with and without bundles), volume discounts, and capacity constraints
- Price Component
which allow you to select your baseline scenario data and whether or not to include (projected) fuel surcharges
- Demand Component
which lets you switch between different historical and forecast volumes
which act similar to other providers’ attributes and allow you to determine whether or not you want to include suppliers, groups, carriers etc. and (automatically) define constraints that would exclude new suppliers, intermodal carriers, or suppliers without a valid contract status or force the inclusion of WMOB suppliers, etc.
- They have a very extensive library of built in reports
Not only do they have full-featured comparison reports (like any good SSDO vendor), award detail reports, carrier reports, but they have reports by business unit, geography, bid attribute, lane, incumbent, and scenario detail. The last report makes it easy to determine the differences between two scenarios (which is necessary to understand the cost differential) and their award reports include cost differentials that allow a negotiator to tell a supplier how much their prices would have to decrease in order to get an award.
- They have a very extensive help library.
The help library has information tailored to each screen, each constraint, and each option and includes a discussion of the possible ramifications of each constraint and option on the model as a whole.
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