Daily Archives: November 22, 2011

Supply Chain Realtime Adaptive Priority Solutions — Where Are They?

In these uncertain times, what the supply chain really needs is Supply Chain Realtime Adaptive Priority Solutions, SCRAPS. Reading article after article that reiterates the age-old need to reduce risk, conserve cash, and target the most-fruitful opportunities first while simultaneously reading article after article about the same-old technology, with no innovation in sight, I am starting to look for the SCRAPS.

After asking who is going to upset the market in 2011, and seeing nothing but solution renovation from a few vendors in 2011, I’m not only wondering where the innovation is, but why for the most part (outside of a few vendors who have been improving their existing platform offerings greatly), there have been no (fundamentally) new technologies for a couple of years now. (Even though I know the answer in a lot of cases, and it’s NDA.)

We need something, even if it is only SCRAPS. And, to be honest, SCRAPS might be just what we need. Given the growing plethora of technology platforms, suppliers, geographies, internal customers, and market segments that we need to manage with very limited resources, we need a better way to stay on top of what is most important — TODAY, tomorrow, and the day after. And it’s no longer as simple as simply tracking promised award dates, contract expiry dates, order dates, shipment dates, delivery dates, promotion dates, and other dates of interest.

If a print media campaign has been delayed because a product has been delayed, how important is it to make an award today? If the contract expiring is for plant watering, is it really urgent? Especially when you could just hire a high school kid to come in once a week. But if you need seven days lead time to get those all-beef patties and you’re supporting restaurant operations where all-beef patties are 40% of orders, unless your cube is on fire, you better get that order in. Similarly, if you’re in the apparel industry and a ship date has been missed, given the lifetime of fashion, you better be ready to jump on a plane if necessary to find out what happened. And if a shipment you need tomorrow gets held in customs, you need to know about that right now, not in two days when the product doesn’t show up as expected. And you better be cognizant of when marketing decides to hold its promotions and be prepared to shift your priorities appropriately. If demand doubles, the last thing you want to do is stock out.

Thus, we need technology solutions that can re-organize and re-prioritize tasks and issues that need your attention based upon what’s the most important today, taking into account risk and opportunity (with immediate risks and short-term opportunities getting the highest priority), and not based upon traditional project timelines. And, more importantly, we need solutions that can take the different tasks and risks being captured by your sourcing (spend analysis, RFX, eAuction, optimization, contract management), procurement (requisition management, invoice management, P2P, etc.), transportation and trade (document management, 3PL & transportation management, regulatory compliance management), and risk management solutions and integrate them into a cohesive picture of what is important now, short term, and long term and that can “calendar” them into daily, weekly, and monthly priorities so that you can focus on what’s important, ignore what’s not, and find time for long term strategic planning (by only focussing on real fires and not prank smoke bombs).

Thoughts? Do we need a few SCRAPS?