Supply Chain Blog

FMCG CEO Christmas Gift: Implement S&OP – Slade style!

Posted by Dave Jordan on Fri, Dec 16, 2016

Christmas is coming around faster than ever and who better than Noddy Holder and Slade to give a Sales & Operational Planning (S&OP) process to your business as a present. This song has been heard at Christmas every year since 1973! If you have been living in a cave on a remote island and don't know the tune you can click here for the original, boring non-S&OP version.

1 2 3 4.......

Are you looking at your sales chart on the wall? Sales and Operational Planning
Is it the time you have to stop the fall?
You’ve tried overpaying salesmen,
You’ve loaded up the trade
Do you need to find a better way?

Chorus:
So here it is S&OP
Everybody should run one
Look to the future; how?
Six months or even one.

Are you guessing how much you’re going to sell?
Are you suffering high out of stock as well?
Does supply chain always tell you, pre-SOP is best?
So why not work together for a test?

Chorus:
So here it is S&OP
Everybody should run one
Look to the future; how?
Six months or even one.

What will the salesmen do
When they see their targets being met?
Ah ah
They’ll be changing the chart gradient on the wall.
Not for them will sales fall and fall.
When you implement S&OP you make quite a change
Looking back the old way will feel so strange.

Chorus:
So here it is S&OP
Everybody should run one
Look to the future ;  how?
Six months or even one.

Noddy knows best so why not find out about S&OP now and give your business the perfect Christmas gift.

Image courtesy of Nora Ashbee at Enchange.com

 

Tags: FMCG, Christmas, Dave Jordan, CEO, Humour, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning

Santa & Opening Presents - S&OP Putting Elves in their place

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Dec 14, 2016

Dear Mr. K Ite,

Thank you for your very short note highlighting some minor points; I can see you are a little aggrieved. On behalf of "Mr Claus I will attempt to minimise your apparent unease with the S&OP process in the context of the very small print in your members employment conditions.

I think we have to manage expectations here. I know your members play an important role in the Christmas S&OP but as far as I am aware there are very few (if any) Christmas songs about Elves. Let me see now:

Dashing through the snow in a one elf open sleigh….I think not!

Good King Elf looked out of the feast of Stephen…..no, not there either.

Rudolf the red nosed elf….not quite eh?

You do not even get a mention in the all encompassing 12 Days of Christmas!!!

Your members are lucky to have assured contracts which guarantee employment every year without fail. Unless the world runs out of children I think we can safely see continued employment into the future. The green hats were part of the 2009 collective bargaining agreement where we agreed to new hats every 5 years instead of the industry standard of every 10 years. You will recall we reversed out decision to change colour of the hats to pink at the same time.

Santa and S&OP Planning Cylcle

The employment market is currently very tough and I urge you to communicate to your members the difficulties you will cause should you withdraw your labour. We are unable to pay you for doing nothing for 46 weeks of the year and I am sure you would agree with this. Frankly, if this is what you and you members expect then I suggest you apply to join the Marketing Department.

Finally, I address your comment on S&OP specifically. In our industry planning is everything to ensure we keep the children happy AND do not enter January with excess stock nobody wants. If you want to see what can happen when you get the planning wrong in our kind of business please check out Vuvuzelas and the Value of S&OP.

I am sure you will communicate our position to your members.

With chilly regards,

Mr. I Cicle

 

Tags: Christmas, Dave Jordan, Supply Chain, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning

Santa & Opening Presents, S&OP & the Elves Respond

Posted by Michael Thompson on Mon, Dec 12, 2016

Dear Mr Santa,

I refer to the recent blog article, "Santa & Opening Presents; Why S&OP is Invaluable at Christmas".

As I mentioned in the consultation process just prior to S&OP implementation, I was prepared on behalf of our members to support the programme, provided and only provided it did not affect our rights as elves.

IncideAngryElfntally, I see that I am not alone in considering that S&OP is not really needed & refer you to Mike Thompson’s excellent series of blogs starting with “What has S&OP ever done for us”.

We were prepared to concede certain rights under the Working Time Directive but now things have gone too far. In particular I would like to draw your attention to our most serious grievances – there are more:
  1. Elves unemployed.  We cannot and will not accept that lack of work is a reason for redundancy.
  2. Season Bonus.  Pah.  When has a new green hat ever been proper recompense for 16 hour working days and such appalling shift patterns?  And let’s not forget that we only received the hats because of overstocking due to a poor sales forecast (see other S&OP blog).

Unless our legitimate grievances are dealt with immediately, you will leave us with no choice other than to consider industrial action.

In the meantime, and to demonstrate just how seriously we consider the current situation to be, we are no longer prepared to sing the Company Song.  “Yo Ho Ho” is old hat (excuse the pun). 

I look forward to your reply.

Yours sincerely,

Fred K. Ite

Shop Steward & Chief Elf

 

Tags: Christmas, Michael Thompson, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning

Supply Chain Analytics: The birth of a new Dawn, or Daniel

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Nov 02, 2016

Anyone expecting their first child has probably been told by a gloating-doting grandparent-to be that their lives are about to change dramatically. This is of course untrue as in reality dramatically is too simple a word and in any event, that “change” is far, far different than granny suggests. Your pre-natal life as you know it will become obsolete at the snip of a chord.

Sleep, sanity, social life and other activities beginning with “s” will soon become history as you become slaves to the mini-me you have created who appears to have over active exhaust systems at both ends. Night and day whizz past in a blur of endless demands for food and cleaning and screaming and that is just the husband.

Did you know what sex the little darling was before the big day or did you wait and see what would be delivered? Did you and the family try to predict boy or girl based on family history? You know, things like the first born is always a boy if the birth takes place in summer. Or, it must be a girl based on the size of the baby bump etc., etc.

Supply_Chain_Analytics_CEO_Planning.jpgDespite all the indicators and family history and old wives’ tales you got the sex of the baby wrong? Dear me, there are only 2 options after all! If you can get that 50/50 prediction wrong how on earth do people cope in the supply chain business when the number and type of variables is enormous? (You knew the segue was coming and there it is!)

What is going to happen in the future is always difficult to predict even remotely accurately.

Hold on a minute but what about all that Supply Chain data? Your Management Information System is running red hot; the KPI Dashboard has digital steam coming out of its ears and you can see numbers bursting out of the air vents on the top of the Data Warehouse. You have more data available than you can shake a USB Data Stick at!

The problem is that all those numbers and colour coded percentages help to tell you everything that has already happened in your Supply Chain. Good to know of course but isn’t it better to know why certain events happened and how they can be avoided in the future?

I can imagine your last S&OP meeting involved making considered changes to plans and activities to correct certain deficiencies or to take advantage of opportunities. All well and good but the internal operational deficiency you have is that you must wait weeks or months or longer to find out if your strategy was successful.

What you need is an analytical tool to take advantage of all that data and convert it into actionable information. A tool which allows you to diagnose the precise causes of past events and which allows you to model the probable results of your decisions into the future. These tools exist as cost effective cloud based solutions but most companies stubbornly remain convinced that their expensively installed MIS/ERP should be sufficient. Put simply, alone, they are not.

When you were thinking about starting a family if you knew which “tadpole” was most likely to win the race you would not be on a ladder hurriedly repainting the nursery blue!

Image courtesy of dream designs at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: CEO, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Supply Chain Analytics, IT

Supply Chain – regular IT to Supply Chain Analytics

Posted by Dave Jordan on Thu, Aug 11, 2016

I am an App-free zone. I have to admit I am not a big App fan but at least I now know what an App is after a lengthy period of ignorant denial. Originally used only by cutting edge, bearded techies (sorry Steve), Apps have become a major part of routine as life seems to revolve around getting more out of mobile phones.

Some of these telephones are more powerful than desktop PC’s and the cameras are certainly as good as mid-range stand-alone versions. In fact, why is a mobile phone called a telephone anymore? The functionality is such a long way from the house brick sized “hand” sets you see on old shows like The Sweeney that another moniker seems appropriate.

Supply_Chain_Analytics_FMCG_PLANNING_PHARMA_IT.jpgWe do not call a modern car a wheel simply because that’s what started things rolling in that technology, do we? Nor do we call our curved, slimline HDTVs cathode ray tubes. Find a new name people!

Apps in industry and supply chain in particular tend to be rather larger in size and far more expensive but do they all do what it says on the tin? Largely, yes.

  • ERPs do bring a high degree of rigour, data collation and transactional integrity to complicated manufacturing and distributive supply chains.
  • WMS systems do provide you with inventory control, performance measurement and stock surety as a basis for excellent customer service.
  • DRP helps you plan the efficient distribution of your finished product.
  • TRP works to ensure your stock is on the move to clients in good time and with efficient fuel and time consumption.
  • APO can certainly help a company improve planning across the extended supply chain.

These and more apps or IT packages are certainly good news for people running complicated regional or global supply chains. While they all have a value and a role to play there is something they do not provide. 

Despite spending millions of Euros in sophisticated and not so sophisticated systems, are there any significant new opportunities to improve supply chain performance? Yes, and here is why:

  • All those increasingly complex IT-led projects have automated ways of working whether they are optimum or not. Generally, this provides incremental improvement at best and with significantly increased variability and caution in the planning processes.
  • The sales forecast is often blamed as the cause of whatever problem is current. In reality the issue lies within the supply chain processes, the set-up of the IT and/or how the various tools are being used in parallel and in tandem.
  • Managing this never ending supply chain complexity becomes the real challenge. Faced with this complexity and increasing uncertainty, planners buffer their supply chains with inventory and lead-times. Inventory becomes that large eared elephant in the room. Everyone knows it reduces free cash and adds unnecessary cost but nobody knows exactly what to do about it and even fewer are brave enough to propose anything.

There really is nothing positive about unnecessary inventory in the supply chain.

The answer? What is needed is better and more accessible data analysis to drive decision making across the supply chain and not in one stand-alone sub function. Decisions need to be taken based on facts and without the emotion or gut feel that is often the default motivation for immediate action.  This is where the App and half that is Supply Chain Analytics can contribute to your business success.

SC Analytics Apps or IT can sit above your existing transactional IT to overcome these challenges and help you ensure all the individual sub-functions are working seamlessly and synergistically. You do not write off your existing systems or put them in a box on a shelf; they all have a major part to play but they would benefit from supply chain analytics help.

Thinking about it, the term “supply chain” actually does reflect the reality for companies yet to operate with some sort of Supply Chain Analytics. Think of a heavy stainless steel chain draped across the desk. Yes, all the functions are indeed joined together but some links are not fully aligned, some lie at odd angles and overlap with others while others are stretched out and only just connect at the extremes. Doesn’t that sound like something that can be further improved?

Maybe the supply chain should actually be the “supply artery” without all the spatial confusion of a chain. The artery would continually supply the precise amount of product required at any time to any location as demand dictates and taking all environmental factors into account. Now, that is an App I would buy!

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles at freedigitalphotos.net

Tags: Performance Improvement, ERP/SAP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Supply Chain Analytics

Postman Pat, Postman Pat, Postman Pat & his Supply Chain hat

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jul 06, 2016

I recently peeped outside of the FMCG and Pharmaceutical world and took a look at the amount of empty beds in the National Health Service in UK and how a little alternative thinking plus basic demand and supply planning expertise could improve bed utilisation. Today it is the turn of the Royal Mail and all those “black and white cat” postie types to be in line for my critique. 

Before you say that the Royal Mail is not a proper supply chain, it is a supply chain and a very complicated one at that. Apart from the reducing but still significant Christmas card peak, this is a business that cannot really forecast how many letters and parcels will be dropped into Post Offices and Post Boxes for delivery on a daily basis. Or perhaps they can or should? Is it any different from the daunting, daily, dynamic demand volatility experienced in Tesco, Asda and Aldi etc.?

Anyway, that is not the issue on this occasion but it is about the Royal Mail redirection service which should be a very straightforward formality. You move to a new address and pay the Royal Mail to keep an eye on your letters and parcels and forward them to your new abode. This is not as simple as it sounds as finding that gas bill in a plain brown envelope must be very close to searching for a needle in a haystack. Nevertheless, they have been doing this for ages and in large numbers so should be very proficient.

FMCG_MAIL_POSTAL_SUPPLY_CHAIN_SERVICE.jpgNot this time. They got it horribly wrong from day one and continued to do so as even “signed for” mail which must be capable of automatic sorting was sent to the old address. Luckily we are still in the locality and in contact with the remaining Neanderthal student residents who in their few conscious periods send vowel-free texts letting us know Postman Pat has left something in the heiress’s name. Before they have the chance to eat or smoke what has arrived we quickly pop down and rescue items that slipped through the redirect net. That net must have holes the size of Ronaldo’s ego.

After repeated telephone calls and emails and the release of only a minor amount of my pent up frustration from afar, Postman Pat has refunded all costs and is now carrying out the service – very efficiently now, incidentally – free of charge. What a waste of time, energy and other resources!

I have no idea what the inside of a sorting office looks like or what processes and procedures are in place or their daily challenges but failure to carry out core advertised service is very disappointing. Delivering enveloped and packaged mail is what they do best; if they cannot get that right then what chance do they have with other value added services?

Walk into a pub on a scorching day (ok, so that is not going to be in UK) to be told sorry, no beer. Step into a supermarket to find no bread, milk, tea or cheese! Pull up at the McDonalds drive-in to be told no fries today - actually no bad thing!

You have to get the basics right or your credibility with existing and potential new clients is severely limited. Some organisations bend over backwards to gain new business and rightly so but why don’t they bend further backwards to keep that business? In FMCG and Pharma I find business retention is far harder than finding it in the first place.

Image courtesy of Ohmega1982 at freedigitalphotos.net

 

 

Tags: Customer service, FMCG, Performance Improvement, Pharma, Forecasting & Demand Planning

UK NHS Supply Chain: bed-busting benefits of patient SKUs

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Jun 29, 2016

Some time ago I looked at the often dreadful customer service offered by FMCG and Telecoms companies in CEE. Of course, this avoidable malaise is not restricted to that part of the world. After being in UK for a few weeks I have experienced really poor service from organisations you would think had top notch, high performing supply chains.

The Royal Mail and all those “black and white cat” types will be the subject of a later blog but first in line for critique is the National Health Service.

The NHS in the UK is a precious gem and really is the envy of most other countries where credit cards have to be produced before you hear the Marigold’s snap on. The NHS is supported by a seriously complex, unpredictable and volatile supply chain. On this occasion supply chain certainly includes the provision of medical supplies, equipment, foods to multiple locations around a hospital site. (I am tempted to bang on about the quality food or to be more exact, the amount of wasted food as most of what I see is not going to win any awards.)

My bone of contention with NHS service is about beds, the availability of which is a constant battle which is seemingly never won. Operations are regularly postponed when there are no beds available for post-op recuperation. Yes, some beds are certainly blocked by long term patient residents but my observations suggest there are actually many beds woefully under utilised. To alleviate the problem, I am certainly not suggesting bed sharing which does occur elsewhere. (I have personally seen a single bed with 4 occupants at the same time in a certain country.)

While it is important patients are treated with the utmost dignity and with the best care in the world I think NHS bed availability would be improved if patients were considered as SKU’s on a supermarket shelf. Just take the emotion away for a moment and consider how this might work.

Each bed is shelf in a shop and the optimum situation is to see all these shelf locations full and more importantly, replenished as soon as stock (patients) moves off the shelves (beds). As with transferring stock from the Lidl back of store to gondola ends, this should not be rocket science. And quite right too as long as decisions are made in the optimum sequence and information is in full flow.

Admittedly based on my massive sample of 1 hospital, I see the following sequence of activities:

  1. NHS_SUPPLY_CHAIN_BED_PLANNING.jpg1. Patient gets ready to leave and sits in a chair waiting for discharge.
  2. 2. Nothing happens at the bed.
  3. 3. A patient leaves the bed and is discharged.
  4. 4. Nothing happens at the bed.
  5. 5. The bed is stripped and all cups, jugs etc. are removed.
  6. 6. Nothing happens at the bed.
  7. 7. Bed and surrounding area are cleaned and the bed re-made.
  8. 8. Nothing happens at the bed.
  9. 9. Eventually, a new patient arrives to fill the bed but this can be several hours and often overnight, after the vacancy was first identified.

Just a little bit of basic demand and supply forecasting plus timely information transfer would see a far higher utilisation of available bed space and over the period of a year, noticeably shorter waiting times.

Ok, so I know little about the intricacies of the NHS and maybe other hospitals are slicker in their bed allocation but I feel it is a huge opportunity. A change in mindset and a willingness to learn from other supply chains could prove invaluable. I did offer my services to look at this acute bed shortage problem and was welcomed as long as I had previous experience of working within the NHS…….

Isn’t that the problem? If you are not open to new ideas and innovative solutions, you will get nowhere while the NHS wastes money on incestuous internal studies and reviews. Remember Einstein, who probably did have good knowledge of rocket science; “Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

Image courtesy of Suriya Kankliang at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: SKU, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Forecasting & Demand Planning, IT, Information

Inventory, inventory, inventory. They’ve all got it – inventory.

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Feb 10, 2016

Amongst the many variables in running a Supply Chain, the one certainty in FMCG, Pharmaceutical and Agri businesses is that inventory is solely in the eye of the beholder. Nobody else but Supply Chain actually sees the full unedited and excuse-free realism on inventory and what this stock is doing (always a negative effect) to overall company costs and service.

I hear lots of Management Accountant types shouting that they know what is going on better than anybody. Complete tosh. They certainly should and do know the total value and the weeks or months cover but that does not begin to tell the full story. Knowing your working capital is below, on or above target is a necessary piece of data for reporting requirements but what information and more importantly, what actions might be prudent and productive?

The Sales & Marketing guys know everything about inventory levels, not! They know and react when something is out of stock but do not care about the underlying causes as it is usually their own woeful forecasting and lack of innovation delivery rigour. Their view of inventory is commonly restricted to what happened to upset the monthly numbers rather than what is possible with some forward looking collaboration and understanding.

Is anyone actually checking what is out of stock or overstocked, what this means now and more importantly, what this means for the future? The future for sales certainly but also the future for demand planning, supply planning and production facilities. One thing is certain, when you do not have full visibility and modelling capability of your inventory chain then you will have too much and what you do have will not be aligned to market demand.

FMCG_INVENTORY_STOCKS_SUPPLYVUE.jpgWithout close attention to such detail you will find inventory follows the JIC or “just in case” principle. Stocks slowly creep up along the chain as non-analytically derived contingency appears. Sooner or later you end up with more stock than Marco Pierre White can shake a cinnamon stick at.

Inevitably, this excess is not helpful and actually hinders the capability to supply the demand. A continuous check and challenge of inventory levels along the chain (including seasonal trends) is required to ensure the correct stock is being held for different SKUs. Not brands or categories or ranges but the individual SKUs shoppers actually want to buy now; not tomorrow or next week.

A majority of the commonly used IT tools do not actually permit meaningful analysis of future possibilities. They can certainly tell you what has taken place in terms of forecast accuracy, bias, inventory level and associated value, out of stocks, service levels etc, etc but they are not designed to help you model future possibilities.

Ok, so what can you do? You can get your best spreadsheet people and throw reams of data at them but that will be wasteful and futile. What you could do is look at a specific tool for modelling your future possibilities, eg see an example here.

If you have applied each and every Supply Chain improvement initiative you can find and still need cost savings to satisfy HQ and shareholders then inventory modelling is where significant benefits to cost and service remain unexploited.

Image courtesy of Sira Anamwong at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: FMCG, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Inventory Management & Stock Control, Supply Chain Analytics

FMCG: S&OP morphing into Integrated Business Planning (IBP)?

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, Sep 23, 2015

I speak to many FMCG companies who tell me they do not need Sales & Operational Planning in their businesses. As a formal process they may not be operating to S&OP norms but if they are getting their products onto shelves then some form of S&OP must be in place. This may not be optimum or efficient but at the end of the day their products are in front of consumers and ready for purchase or not, depending on how successfully your sales and marketing colleagues have stimulated the market.

This leads me to a frequent problem with S&OP – the name, not the process. Reluctantly sales people do get involved in S&OP process but in my experience they have rarely bought into the idea 100%. Nevertheless, they are there at the meetings and they are sharing data and information etc.

To everyone else in a company the “operational” term usually applies solely to those continually moaning Supply Chain types and sometimes in Finance. Colleagues in all other functions including marketing frequently do not see themselves as part of this process yet it is the lack of rigour and discipline in these sales supporting roles that undermines business performance.

This is why I increasingly prefer the term Integrated Business Planning (IBP) as it covers the whole company plus there is no “and” in the process name. The latter point may seem trivial but S and OP triggers a “them and us” mentality whereas there is no debate about the IBP process. We are in this together (not in the current UK government way) including HR who play the important role of providing the right people and the right training opportunities in order to support the overall business objectives.

The use of IBP does not change the objectives of the process significantly but perhaps the benefits are more clearly defined:

IBP helps to transform planning from a boring must-have into a decisive and continually improving competitive advantage by fostering one integrated planning platform across sales, marketing, supply chain and finance and yes, even HR:

  • A clear and unambiguous understanding of business performance drivers.

  • A dynamic understanding of the financial impact and interdependencies of different planning scenarios.

  • Optimisation and balance of the monthly business plan with longer term strategic planning and identification an allocation of skilled resources.

  • Balancing planning for profitability or volume or growth as per the business need.

  • Unambiguous quantification of financial risk and opportunity of planning scenarios.

  • Continually increasing business flexibility and surety of success.

  • One company working as one team.

Of all these desirable benefits the last is the one you really need to pursue. If you get this working within the framework of an IBP you will be hard to stop in the FMCG marketplace.

Image courtesy of Sheelamohan at freedigitalphotos.net

 

Tags: FMCG, S&OP, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Sales, Integrated Business Planning

FMCG: Costs and Supply Chain Excellence

Posted by Dave Jordan on Wed, May 27, 2015

I recently had a lengthy discussion with someone from the UK Armed Forces who was preparing to lead his men into a dangerous part of the world. I enquired about the logistics of delivering people, arms, ammunition and machines to the right place at the right time. Running out of anti-dandruff shampoo may prompt you to select a white shirt in the morning but running out of bullets when under fire provides a very different challenge.

FMCG_Supply_Chain_Army-1

Taking bullets as the focus. Getting bullets to the front and keeping up the supply lines must be an incredible logistical task which simply cannot fail. Just imagine, no weekends or bank holidays to allow the supply chain to catch up or regroup. All FMCG supply chain people will have all had the dubious privilege to call Metro or Asda or Tesco to say “sorry, we are out of stock on Bloggo Powder but it will be with you on Tuesday”. The supply chain in an active military deployment must be a super-slick Rolls-Royce of an organisation……..not!

Well, actually my friend rated the quality of supply chain in the military as ………. Yes, you can probably guess the short but not so sweet military technical term used. Quite simply, the military supply chain does not have to make money or deliver savings nor is it measured against customer service at the often dusty location of a fire-fight. They are tasked to get stuff from A to B and get it there they must or the consequences are potentially lethal. Consequently the military spends far more than is necessary in civilian life to achieve the similar objective of moving stuff around.

FMCG, Brewing and Pharma companies find it hard enough to forecast what domestic consumers will eat, drink and slap on their skin on a daily basis. Compare that to how many bullets are needed or what volume of diesel fuel is required or how many tank tracks are going to be ripped off. If military forecast accuracy and stock levels were the subject of KPIs then the turnover of supply chain people would be very high. So, cost in a military environment may not receive close scrutiny but in FMCG, Brewing and Pharma it certainly and rightly does.

This leads me to this thought. In the relatively mundane field of soaps and shampoos, beer and Bollinger, tablets and tonics, does cost excellence deliver performance excellence or is it the other way around……..?

 

Image courtesy of Surachai at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

Tags: Brewing & Beverages, FMCG, Dave Jordan, Forecasting & Demand Planning, Inventory Management & Stock Control