In Part I, we re-introduced you to Kinaxis, one of the most interesting companies in the entire Supply Management space. Billing themselves as a platform for Rapid Response designed to assist supply chain professionals in managing their change-ready supply chains, Kinaxis is actually a very extensive, but deftly integrated, end-to-end cross-functional supply chain what-if platform designed to help supply chain professionals determine how to respond to various unexpected situations. As discussed in Part II, by integrating all of your cross-functional Supply Chain Management applications into one centralized control center application, it has the unique ability to not only optimize production, distribution, and supply network models but to also allow a user to create what-if scenarios in real-time that will allow the user to, among other things,
- model current, projected, and variations to, demand,
- plan how production would have to ramp up, down, or shift to meet demand,
- determine what the impacts would be to other customers if a preferred customer’s order was filled sooner,
- understand the impacts to inventory and production if a certain raw material or part were unavailable for a short, or long, period of time,
- comprehend the impacts to new product development and introduction of there is a delay in production, raw material acquisition, distribution, or if marketing wants to introduce a last minute change, and
- manage the change process associated with demand, inventory, development, or production changes.
The Kinaxis platform does this, and more, because they believe that the key to not only surviving, but thriving, in today’s dynamic, constantly changing, and constantly interrupted global market is to know sooner, act faster. When it takes two days to understand what the impacts of a supply disruption of a material already in short supply will be, that’s too long (as the chances are that your competitor will have locked up the remaining supply before your organization even realizes it needs it). And when it takes a week to understand what the impact of a requested feature change by marketing will be to new product development, that’s too long (as the decision will always be ‘no’ because delaying production will be too risky – and if that results in a key-feature being left out, like e-mail on the Playbook, the resulting lack of marketshare could be devastating). And if you can’t tell your marquis customer whether or not you can expedite their order the day they call, that’s too long (as the end result is that they won’t be a marquis customer for long). That’s why the Kinaxis platform was built to allow these business critical questions to be answered within two-hours or less, on average (in the hands of a knowledgeable user). Many simple questions (such as what if I add this order, change this ship date, or expedite this order) can be answered in just a few minutes — and the full details as to why can be understood in under an hour.
And now the Kinaxis platform does this on a global scale. When SI first reviewed Kinaxis, it was primarily deployed in the English speaking world and single currency. Now, with offices in North America, Asia Pacific, and Europe they are deployed globally in multiple languages and support multiple currencies. In addition, they have added mobile (tablet) support so users can access the application on-the-go, in-the-plant, and on-site when a disruption is detected and has to be dealt with. Furthermore, all of the data is accessed in real time in both the mobile app and the main application. This is another powerful enhancement as what-if scenarios can be re-run as soon as data is updated in the ERP, Inventory Management, or Operations Planning system. No more waiting for the regularly scheduled sync.
Other key enhancements include namespaces, which allow different environments to be set up for different processes, geographic locations, or what-if scenario sets; integrated project management that ties together the project management capabilities of both the Kinaxis platform and the integrated applications (that are already supported by Kinaxis which supports all of the major ERPs); attribute-based planning; variant Bill-of-Materials support which allows multiple options to be considered simultaneously; “fair-share” constraints and additional constraint modeling capability; and process orchestration (that makes sure processes that are supposed to happen in sync happen in sync and those that are supposed to happen in sequence happen in sequence) that allows processes and activities to be defined and compiled in a logical, project-like, manner (that is intuitive to anyone used to using traditional project management tools).
What Kinaxis has built is a framework for modern enterprise-class end-to-end Supply Chain Management through a consolidated control center. It doesn’t replace your ERP, e-Sourcing, e-Procurement, Logistics and Transportation Management, Warehouse and Inventory Management, Trade Management, SRM and Visibility solutions — it allows you to take your operations to the next level by orchestrating their capabilities in an entirely new way (and, in fact, the Kinaxis system won’t reach it’s true potential unless your organization has most, if not all, of these systems in place). If all you have is a suite of best-in-class Supply Management applications, even if each application is 2.0, or even approaching 3.0, your Supply (Chain) Management organization as a whole is still 1.0 as it hasn’t mastered true process orchestration and functional collaboration. This is what Kinaxis gives you, if you are ready and prepared to embark upon the journey.