As a classical and jazz musician I understand the need for both structured and artistic abilities when performing. In its basic form music is a mathematical language. What sets a professional musician apart from an amateur often is the ability to express oneself artistically through the instrument and make that special connection with an audience.
Art and science come together in supply chain management, too. While many aspects of supply chain planning are ruled by well-defined mathematical relationships, many areas rely more on “artistic” application of experience. The duality comes into play when addressing the question of how many Stock Keeping Units (SKUs) a demand planner should be able to manage. Like a professional musician, a supply chain professional must use both supply chain expertise and experienced-based artistic ability to answer the question.
The number of products a planner can manage is heavily dependent on how easy or difficult it is to develop a reasonable forecast for those products. Improving a planner’s efficiency depends on a number of industry and company variables:
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To be fair, it’s nearly impossible to predict what will turn out to be the biggest challenges supply chain leaders will encounter in the year ahead. Millions of supply chains face unique challenges that vary across industries, geographies and business strategies. A host of unpredictable factors will certainly arise, such as geopolitical conflict, social and economic upheaval, natural disasters, and more. But despite the difficulty factor, let’s gaze into a crystal ball and make a few predictions about the challenges supply chain leaders should be preparing to face in 2016.
I grew up in a time before people knew much about being eco-friendly, being Green, so the concept of sustainability isn’t usually at the top of my mind.
Supply Chain 2020 will continue collapsing cycles, challenging Supply Chain professionals and taking advantage of exponential technology shifts.
How do you handle stores with space constraints?
As a retailer I recently spoke to said, “we employ special manual processes to hand feed our stores that achieve high sales, but are lacking in space to properly house the usual inventory levels associated with the high sales. These manual processes are time consuming and error prone and the mistakes result in havoc.”
In my experience, just about everyone in retail wants to get out of the spreadsheet trap and leave their error-prone, standalone, manual process behind. No spreadsheet can keep pace with the up-and-down trends of seasonal and fashion-driven demand, as well as demand signals by location—there’s too much uncertainty for spreadsheets to handle.
In the US, Fall means one thing: kicking off the new football season. Of course, since I am a true supply chain geek, when I think about seasons I immediately think of supply chain planning, as I’m sure you do too!? After a particularly difficult football weekend, I pondered the similarities between the struggles of my favorite NFL team and the difficulties of implementing a winning Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) process.
Supply chain convergence certainly sounds like a good thing. After all, in mathematics we talk about converging on a solution, don’t we? In the supply chain world, when the disciplines of planning and optimization converge, it’s like a rising tide of synergy that lifts all boats.
The struggle to balance customer demand with available supply is as old as trade itself. Sales and Operations Planning (S&OP) processes have evolved over the last 30 years to address this age-old problem, yet recently SCM World declared “S&OP is still the top inquiry within the SCM World community.”* Gartner and Aberdeen have also indicated that S&OP innovation is a top priority for companies seeking to balance and align future demand and supply, predict capacity and material problems with enough time to do something about them, and understand the financial consequences of production and purchasing decisions.
Being a huge baseball fan, I was sad to hear about the passing of baseball great, Yogi Berra. Yogi Berra was an 18-time All-Star and appeared in 14 World Series as a member of the Yankees, winning 10 of them. Berra’s contributions to MLB history are legendary, but he might be even more famous for his numerous expressions and turns of phrase that often didn’t make logical sense but still rang true.