Category Archives: rants

Sustainable Supply Chains Sacrifice China! (Most of the Time.)

Last Friday we posted China is the Enemy because, especially where your supply chain is concerned, China has just demonstrated what SI has known for over a decade — it is the enemy. (This isn’t the only situation where China or the CCP is the enemy, but those are different rants. Note that we do NOT equate China or CCP with Chinese people. Most Chinese are NOT the enemy of your supply chain or democracy just like most Americans are NOT the enemy of intelligence and common sense.)

Long time readers will know that in the naughts, SI spent a lot of bandwidth telling your deaf ears that you should be investing heavily in nearshoring and home country sourcing because of the dangers of outsourcing in general, and, the dangers of oversourcing to a specific country, like China, in particular — which have finally become very apparent. It’s too bad it took a freakin’ pandemic to make clear how dangerous it is to outsource so many critical products and JIT materials to a country halfway around the globe, especially when such sourcing in bulk across the industry leads to the lack of capacity close to home due to factory closures and talent evaporation.

There’s a reason the doctor told you two weeks ago to remember the 80’s (and the early 80s in particular) … and that’s because that’s the last time most multi-national corporations in the Americas got outsourcing right … when they were near-sourcing to Mexico (who should build the wall just to keep Trump out, but that’s yet another rant for another day).

Let’s face it, some stuff just shouldn’t be sourced from home. Stuff that’s not critical, stuff that’s very expensive to make at home (but easily trucked across a single border) for various reasons (which can go beyond labour to energy costs if there are no affordable renewable sources nearby, transportation costs for raw or unprocessed materials are ridiculous otherwise, etc.), or stuff where most of the raw materials or necessary environmental conditions (for growing, mining, etc.) are just not present at, or near, home.

But when you consider a typical organization, how much stuff really falls into this category? First of all, you have to exclude any product for (re)sale that’s a primary profit line. Then you need to exclude any raw material or component critical to production unless you just can’t get it nearby. Then any product necessary for security or safety. And so on. At the end of the day, you don’t have much left, and if you’re doing the analysis right, you’re going to be left with:


  • raw materials and products just not available nearby (because you need certain growing conditions, large deposits of a mineral only found in certain geographies, etc.)
  • processed materials or chemicals where the raw materials are very expensive or dangerous to transport
  • products unique to a culture or region
  • novelty or other items not critical to your business

which (before the short-sighted wall-street loving common sense hating clueless and unskilled consultants of the late 80’s and early 90’s, like Steve Castle, put everything into the outsourcing bandwagon and blinged it out beyond belief) were the only products a company would outsource halfway around the world and still the only products a company should be sourcing from halfway around the world. Everything else should be near-sourced, and if really critical or the cost differential is small, home-sourced.

This also means that just shifting everything to another country in the BRIC, and India (which is ruled by a more open, transparent, and dependable democracy) in particular, is also NOT the answer. (They may not be the enemy, but they are still NOT the answer.)

So, unless you want your Supply Chain to completely collapse after the next global disaster, go back to basics, remember the smart outsourcing decision from the 80s, reopen those Mexican factories, and start near-sourcing again. And then, where you can, bring it back (close to) home.

Blame China Now!

Oh my God! They Killed Kenny For Real This Time!

Times have changed, the flu is getting worse
It wont respond to our meds, it just wants to make us hurt
Should we blame our government?
Or blame society?
Or should we blame scientists overseas?

No! Blame China NOW!
Blame China NOW!
They want to rule us all
Once all our countries fall!
Blame China NOW!
Blame China NOW!
We need to form a full assault!
It is all China’s fault!

Don’t blame Trump for his slow pace
He did not let this pandemic escape
China’s been planning this since two thousand and two
SARS was just a practice run to see what flus could do

Well, Blame China NOW!
Blame China NOW!
It seems everything’s gone wrong
since China came along
Blame China NOW!
Blame China NOW!
We know they don’t respect our lives anyway!

My grandma could have lived until she was one hundred and two
But she died coughing until her face turned a very deep blue
Should Covid be faulted?
Or the symptoms that couldn’t be halted?
Heck no!

Blame China NOW!
Blame China NOW!
With all their mutated avian flus,
somethings surely gonna get you!
Blame China NOW!
Shame on China NOW!

China must be stopped!
The comms must be stalled!
Global inclusion
must all be undone
We must blame them and cause a fuss
Before China blames all of us!

And to be 100% clear, when we say “China”, in this parody of “Blame Canada“, we specifically and unequivocally mean the CCP (Chinese Communist Party), not the country and not the average Chinese person.

Why?

Because, despite the recent propaganda that has been surfacing over the last few weeks in response to certain American leaders trying to shift the blame for their mounting death rate to China, when all this started, China tried to cover up the epidemic (before it became a full-on global pandemic) and flat out lied, including lying to the WHO who fell for it and issued this, now classic, tweet back in mid-January that stated there was no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel #coronavirus. This resulted in many of the world leaders discounting #coronoavirus and its potential impact and ignoring it until it was too late as #coronoavirus quickly spread unchecked to many of the major travel hubs and first world countries where travelers regularly visited, and returned from, China for business reasons.

CHINA is the ENEMY!

No evolution!
Sometimes it depresses me
The same old same old!
Oh we keep repeating history

The institution curses self-sufficiency
It´s my conviction
CHINA is the ENEMY!

A revolution is the solution

I won’t feel guilty
No matter what they´re telling me
I won’t feel dirty and buy into their misery
I won´t be shamed cause I’m begging you to break free
It fuels the soul and CHINA is the ENEMY!

A revolution is the solution

Home-Sourced is like gold
There is enough to go around
But then there´s greed and doesn´t greed bring disaster?

Give me a choice
Give me a chance to turn the key and find my voice
CHINA is the ENEMY!

A revolution is the solution

CHINA is the enemy!

Vendors They Are Complainin’

come gather ’round vendors
wherever you roam
and admit that the methods
around you have grown
and accept it as truth
tech reviews set the tone
if your time to you
is worth savin’
then you better accept it
or you’ll sink like a stone
for the time’s they are a-changin’

come purchasers, sourcerors
rally the call
don’t stand in the doorway
don’t block up the hall
subjectivity
it will cause you to stall
there’s a battle outside
and it’s ragin’
it’ll shake up you platforms
and rattle your apps
for the times they are a-changin’

come buyers and sellers
throughout the land
don’t let vendors fault
what you can understand
as market assessments
are beyond our command
the old ways are
rapidly agin’
push those out of the new one
if they can’t lend their hand
for the times they are a-changin’

In case you haven’t figured it out, SolutionMaps launched last month to the delight of practitioners who can get a 100% unbiased tech. vs customer view, and the disdain of a handful of vendors who (complain for weeks because they) think we should take more subjective factors such as long-term roadmap, innovation, market size, customer size and complexity, product strategy, market strategy, etc. etc. etc. into account (so our maps will look more like the other tragic quadrant and grave reports).

While we all readily and wholeheartedly agree that these are all extremely important factors in your vendor selection, none of these are relevant in platform due diligence, which is the first thing you need to do before considering a vendor for your shortlist. (If the platform can’t do what you need it to do, it doesn’t matter how great the vendor’s organization is.) Since this is the hardest thing for a relatively non-technical Procurement (or Finance) person to do, this is what, and only what, we focus on — verifying that the foundations of the platform are solid and that key requirements for the module / suite functionality we evaluate are there. If a vendor platform gets a good analyst score, you can be sure it’s solid. If a vendor gets a good customer score, you can be sure the vendor has a history of delivering on what they promise and/or providing great service. If a vendor gets good analyst and customer scores, then, for their target market, they are a great fit.

However, as we make clear in this white paper on How to Use SolutionMaps, just because a vendor is great for their current customers in their target market, that doesn’t mean they’re great for you. If their target market is mid-size companies and you are a F500, or vice versa, then they might not be a good fit for you. That’s where you have to do your market research and focus your pre-qualification RFIs — on the business, market, services/support, and other non-tech factors that are relevant to you. With SolutionMaps you know that if a vendor does well, you don’t have to ask 500 feature/function questions in the pre-qualification RFI, only general questions about the vendor’s confidence and capability to support the key processes you are looking to digitize and automate.

Our goal in creating SolutionMaps (and the doctor led the creation of the majority of the common platform elements; the sourcing, supplier management, and analytics maps; and the first iteration of the CLM map, that has only changed about 30% since) was to flip the traditional technology platform RFI process in Procurement on its end as we saw too many companies focussing too much on tech (usually starting from free meaningless feature/function RFIs), which they didn’t know, and not enough on their business needs, which only they know. With SolutionMaps, they have confidence in the technical capability of the vendors, and can focus on everything else that’s important to their organization (and not the subjective whims of an analyst who has to rate a large number of relatively non quantifiable factors. Since all of the elements we evaluate have a pre-defined technical scoring scale, all analysts evaluate the technical capabilities equally and the maps are computed using pre-defined mathematical formulas with no analyst input whatsoever once the scoring is done).

In other words, the maps were designed to help you as practitioners identify a group of vendors to send a pre-qualification RFI to, not for vendors to use as marketing tools (but they certainly can, as it’s undisputable proof they have a great platform if they show up).

So, as you can imagine, after every release,

The Vendors They Are Complainin’

Remember the 80’s? You should!

And no, I’m not talking about That ’80s Show that was an abysmal failure (as they tried to follow the magic of That ’70s Show too soon with a cast that had no chemistry on set’s that had no style with laugh tracks recorded by people who were clearly trying not to cry), I’m talking about the decade. A decade you should have learned from, not forgotten.

And I’m not talking about the extreme fashions (such as the iconic big hair, the ripped jeans, the leather, the leather, the leather, etc.) the birth of the yuppies, the dominance of a republican regime that was, well, not run by corrupt or inept leadership, breakdancing, the rise of rap (even if it did tell us to fight the power with funky cold medinas), the great nuclear meltdown , or the fall of the Berlin Wall (although that should not be forgotten).

And while relevant, nor am I referring to the end of the Cold War (which indirectly led to more trade and globalism), the mass famine in Ethiopia (which gave us our first mass collaborations between musicians in the modern age), the rise of the personal computer (though very relevant to the world we live in today), the first mobile phones (which have now morphed into mobile computers that do everything, but, apparently make calls in the hands of a millennial), the rise of dungeons and dragons (which would have prepared you well for the endless entrapment in the dungeons we have created for ourselves), or ALF, even though he would make a much better world leader than many countries currently have (who insist on electing celebrities and populists instead of economists and politicians who actually have some idea how to run a country).

No, I’m asking you to remember Mexico, the country the current President of the United States wants to wall up, and the significant contribution they made to the North American economy. More specifically, the contributions Mexico made to the North American economy in particular. As per this graph below, which can be found on Trading Economics, you can see that from about 1982 to 1990, Mexico had a balance of trade consistently in its favour.

Why is this important? It’s important for the same reason that, during the same period, the balance of trade for China was significantly not in China’s favour, as per the graph below also from Trading Economics.

And that reason is …

Something you’d be well aware of if you’ve been reading this blog from the beginning and actually listened to the warnings the doctor gave you last decade about improperly designed supply chains. And that we’ll remind you of in our next post on the subject.